Ireland’s IoT offering: ‘Small enough to trial, large enough to prove’

16 Nov 2016

Leo Clancy, head of technology at IDA Ireland. Image: Connor McKenna

How is Ireland positioned as global industries pour fortunes into the internet of things? According to Leo Clancy, head of technology at IDA Ireland, it’s doing pretty well.

“Collect. Connect. Transform.” These three words define Ireland’s base targets for creating an environment for the impending internet of things (IoT) revolution.

That’s according to Leo Clancy, a man who credits Ireland as a great place for “the different layers of IoT”.

This means that devices to collect data, networks that communicate that data back to central points, and analytics that look at the data can all be created, trialled and ultimately commercialised in Ireland.


The global value of the IoT sector is predicted to exceed €34bn a year by 2020, with an expectation that 4.9bn devices will be connected in 2015, rising to 25bn by 2025.

Through evolution, design and policy – as well as an abundance of raw talent – IoT portends the dawn of a new industrial revolution, and John Kennedy recently wrote of how Ireland could well be at its heart.

An abundance of research centres, smart city projects and natural geographical benefits were each highlighted as potential tools with which the country could thrive. However Kennedy’s first point, that of a plethora of key companies based in Ireland, is perhaps the most notable.

Clancy, namechecking one company in particular, agreed.

“Movidius is a great Irish company, a brilliant success story,” he said. IoT, AI and computer vision are three trends the IDA is constantly seeing as it canvasses the industrial environment.

Every company has one or more of these topics in mind. Movidius, though, has all three. “It has an IoT device,” said Clancy, “advanced computer vision and strong AI capabilities.”

“Movidius is not an overnight success. They came out of previous ecosystems, they’re very supported by the likes of Tyndall; creating that environment probably goes back 35 years… to the creation of Tyndall.”

In general, Clancy thinks Ireland’s offering is such that testing in the country is a no-brainer. Calling Ireland “small enough to trial, large enough to prove”, he thinks the test bed examples already in place show that.

One of the main obstacles facing the whole world when it comes to IoT creation and implementation is the supply of skilled engineers.

In Ireland that is also true, though Clancy sees changes afoot.

“We’ve reacted to the skills gap, we’ve grown the number of computer science enrolments by close to 20pc over the past five years. We’re reacting the right way.”

Positioning yourself to benefit is one thing, but benefiting is quite something else. Should Clancy’s views stand the test of time, Ireland could soon achieve the latter.

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic