9 reasons why Ireland is the natural home for the internet of things

28 Jul 2016

Ireland is the natural home for investing in internet of things technologies

Sea, land, cities and sky – Ireland has an abundance of resources, brains and infrastructure that make it the natural home for researching and investing in the internet of things.

The news this week of 50 new R&D jobs in Dublin from internet of things (IoT) mastermind company PTC – which builds the platforms to run entire networks and constellations of IoT devices – was the latest jewel to be added to Ireland’s IoT crown.

As well as creating highly skilled roles including DevOps engineers, cloud architects and security architects, the interesting insight was how PTC’s technology is already part of the curriculum in institutions across Ireland, including academic institutions such as Trinity College Dublin, Dublin Institute of Technology, Institute of Technology Tallaght, Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology, Athlone Institute of Technology, and University of Limerick – all of which teach PTC’s 3D-modelling software solution, Creo.

The global value of the IoT sector is predicted to exceed £25bn a year (€34.2bn) 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 Ireland will be at its heart.


 1. We have the companies

Dermot O'Shea, Taoglas

Taoglas co-founder and president of Taoglas USA, Dermot O’Shea

This week, Irish firm DecaWave revealed that it now  has 1m installations of its internet of things chips that are capable of finding anything to within 10 centimetres.

A chip designed by Dublin firm Movidius is at the heart of Google’s billion-dollar bet on IoT, while the most energy-efficient, high-speed analogue-to-digital converter was created by Irish company S3.

Cubic Telecom is behind the technology powering the wireless hotspots in the newest Audi vehicles and has attracted an €18m co-investment from the German car giant and Qualcomm.

Irishman Liam Casey’s PCH is integral to the design and delivery of the high-end smart devices consumers crave globally, while IBM, HP, SAP, Vodafone, Analog Devices, Intel, Qualcomm, SAS, EMC and many others are working on IoT in Ireland.

Ireland has been selected as the latest location for an Intel internet of things (IoT) Innovation & Development Ignition Lab, where Intel will collaborate with local companies to develop technologies for the IoT marketplace.

Dairymaster, a Kerry company investing big time in agri-tech R&D, utilises sensors, accelerometers and GPS to good effect with genuinely innovative devices that help with the complex nature of farming.

There is also the $2m investment by Taoglas in an internet of things (IoT) centre in San Diego. The Wexford company’s IoTx Centre is the first facility of its kind in North America. Taoglas, which develops antenna technologies for IoT, actually makes an annual turnover of around €32m and has ploughed its profits back into the company.

2. We have the students and researchers

WIT self drive car 2016 team

Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) students built their own driverless vehicle. Photo via Ann Power

On the research front, academic and industrial collaborations facilitated by research groups like Tyndall, AMBER, CRANN, Insight, Connect, Adapt and TSSG have put Ireland on the world stage for IoT-related breakthroughs.

WIT has created one of the first IoT-specialised computer science degrees and, this year, students developed a driverless car. TSSG, a WIT research centre, is leading a €30m EU-wide pilot focused on how IoT and other smart technologies could transform agriculture and food production.

TSSG is also partnering with Cork’s Tyndall Institute to create an €82m fund to support 10 brand new IoT start-ups.

3. We have the smart cities and towns

Croke Park

Croke Park will effectively become the first internet of things stadium in Europe

National Geographic recently named Dublin as the capital for the internet of things.

Intel has spearheaded plans to turn Dublin into one of the world’s first “internet of things cities” and, in September last year, revealed plans to make Croke Park the world’s first IoT stadium. Current projects focus on enriching the stadium and fan experience by monitoring pitch quality and stadium microclimate, analysing athlete performance, predicting traffic to and from the stadium, and developing apps that indicate queueing times at refreshment and convenience facilities.

The Nimbus Centre at Cork institute of Technology is home to the Litmus Technology Trialling Centre, which is a public facility for the development, testing, trialling and demonstration of applications for energy, water and community technologies, core to the smart cities of the future.

In Crossmollina in Mayo, on Ireland’s west coast, US smart energy player Silver Springs Networks has commenced the roll-out of an internet of things smart city and energy-efficiency platform.

4. We have the breakthroughs

Intel Curie module

Intel’s Curie SOC, named after Marie Curie and designed here in Ireland

Two years ago, a skunkworks team led by Philip Moynagh – a former Intel lab manager and, up until recently, the company’s vice-president in charge of IoT – unveiled the Galileo board at the Maker Faire in Rome, which was powered by the Intel Quark SoC (system on a chip) X1000. That board was aimed at makers and inventors and was Intel’s first real stab at enabling the internet of things revolution.

Last October, at the 2015 Maker Faire, Intel announced the release of the Genuino 101 dev board for entry-level makers and educators.

The heart of the board is the tiny, low-power Intel Curie module that was also designed in Ireland by the same team that developed the Quark Soc for the Galileo board. The Curie chip stole the show at CES earlier this year and could pave the way for Intel into the world of wearables.

 5. We have the spectrum


Wireless image via Shutterstock

Because Ireland is an island with only one border and an abundance of wireless spectrum, it is the ideal testbed for future networks related to IoT.

In recent weeks, it emerged that VT Networks completed the roll-out of a nationwide Sigfox network across Ireland.

Last year, Vodafone and EMC jointly invested €2m to create an industrial testbed for IoT in Cork.

 6. We have the start-ups

Cortechs, founder, Aine Behan

Áine Behan, founder of Cortechs

Recently featured start-up of the week companies on Siliconrepublic.com include a range of interesting players. Cortechs, led by brilliant young entrepreneur Áine Behan, is focused on using brainwaves and digital tools such as gameplay to improve attention in kids, especially those with ADHD.

HUB Controls is the creator of what it claims to be a first-of-its-kind household bills controller and the only smart thermostat that shows customers how much they are spending.

Start-up Moocall’s device – which alerts farmers when cows are about to birth –has massive potential as it would do away with the need for regular, time-consuming site visits and CCTV monitoring by farmers.

And NDRC-based Wia is a start-up that aims to fuel and transform the maker revolution with readily accessible tools.

7. We have the oceans

SmartBay_marine intenet of things

SmartBay general manager Dr John Breslin

The SmartBay Subsea Observatory, supported by the Marine Institute, Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland and Science Foundation Ireland, will be used to collect valuable data from the ocean and will be a critical component of a world-class maritime infrastructure in Ireland. Think of it as IoT on the ocean floor.

8. We have the mountains and skies


Mount Errigal image via Shutterstock

In April, it emerged that the mountains of Donegal are to be the testing ground for Chinese drone giant DJI’s future search and rescue drones.

According to a joint statement from drone manufacturer DJI and rescue research organisation European Emergency Number Association, the Donegal Mountain Rescue Team was recruited to test the latest developments in drone technology in the most difficult of terrain.

“The team in Ireland is already using advanced software applications through DJI’s software development kits (SDKs) to co-ordinate search and rescue missions in remote areas,” the statement said, “and the focus will be to improve real-time networking techniques and crowdsourcing capabilities.”

 9. We have the heritage


Valentia Island, Co Kerry. Image via Shutterstock

Transatlantic communications was born in Ireland when the first transatlantic cable became active in 1866 on Valentia Island. The island off Kerry’s Atlantic coast was the epicentre of global communications until it was overtaken by satellite comms. Now, a campaign is underway to secure World Heritage Site status for the island.

Main image of Leitrim via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years