Mapping Ireland’s vast internet of things network reveals a web of collaboration and innovation.
The internet of things (IoT) has grown from distant concept to near-realisation owing to the collaboration of many moving parts. Network providers, electronics manufacturers, R&D labs, multinational corporations, start-ups, innovators and strategic advisers have each made their contribution to the act of ushering in this new age of connected devices.
In Ireland alone we can see how tightly knit the IoT ecosystem is, weaving together a broad spectrum of players. From networks to infrastructure to research to software, we can see how each component interacts with the others to make integral systems such as machine-to-machine communication (M2M) and the industrial internet of things (IIoT) happen.
Entrepreneurs and commercial partners are collaborating with universities and research centres. Forward-looking consultancies are not only writing the reports on IoT and its impact, they’re also working with their clients to develop and implement solutions. It’s all one big interconnected IoT family on this, the ‘island of things’.
Global consultancy Accenture needs to stay on top of business-transforming technology. At its recently opened multidisciplinary research and incubation hub, The Dock, the company focuses its research on artificial intelligence, advanced analytics and the internet of things, hiring widely for talent interested in developing new IoT technologies.
Last year, the Advanced Materials and Bio-Engineering Research (AMBER) centre at Trinity College Dublin (TCD) won a €4.4m Horizon 2020 research contract to develop a new class of magnetic materials for electronics. Led by TCD’s Prof Plamen Stamenov, the TRANSPIRE project could lead to on-chip and chip-to-chip data links at least 100 times faster than current standards, enabling speedier data transfer for the internet of things.
For the past 40 years, Analog Devices has been developing semiconductors – particularly within IoT – in Ireland, with a staff of 1,200. Twenty per cent of the company’s patents are filed by Ireland-based workers. In November last year, Analog acquired solid-state laser beam steering technology from Vescent Photonics for future autonomous vehicles.
Software company ArtOfUs aims to put people at the heart of the IoT ecosystem with its pioneering human operating system platform. Based in London, ArtOfUs recently opened an office at The Digital Hub in Dublin, creating 18 jobs and establishing its presence in Ireland’s IoT community.
With its headquarters in Dublin, Asavie is one of Ireland’s biggest IoT connectivity providers through platforms like PassBridge. At the recent Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, the company with over 100 staff unveiled an Industrial IoT Accelerator Kit to speed up IoT adoption in the wider world.
Network provider BT is establishing itself on new footing with IoT. BT is offering a support ecosystem for IoT initiatives, encompassing cloud, a global network and data centres. In the UK, the company is involved with the Milton Keynes smart city project and has published a white paper detailing its work in this area.
With its head office in south Dublin, Comtrade is engineering the software behind IoT – particularly within Ireland’s medtech sector, which it hopes will provide 25pc growth year-on-year by 2020. Currently, its Irish team of engineers is developing software that will benefit advanced wearables and in vitro diagnostics.
With €50m through Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) and other funders, Connect’s Irish reach is extensive, with 250 researchers spread across TCD, University College Cork (UCC), Dublin City University (DCU), University College Dublin (UCD), University of Limerick (UL), Cork Institute of Technology, Maynooth University, Dublin Institute of Technology, Tyndall National Institute and TSSG. An example of Connect’s work is its Pervasive Nation which, when finished, will be a national-scale IoT research infrastructure.
Croke Park is Ireland’s first (and only) smart stadium. The centrepiece of a collaborative project from Intel and DCU, the home of the GAA is now also home to myriad companies using it as a test bed for new IoT ideas.
Employing over 100 staff at its Dublin office, Cubic Telecom has created a global connectivity platform in all new Audi road cars. On a visit to Dublin last year, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella referred to the company as “a fantastic example of an Irish start-up”.
Dairymaster brings the internet of things to dairy farms. The company is behind MooMonitor+ and Swiftflo Commander, designed to give farmers up-to-date information on herd health and milk yield. A shining light of agritech R&D, Dairymaster provided tech for a €2.3m UCD dairy research facility in Kildare.
With an array of smart devices on offer, Daqri wants to create “the gateway to augmented reality”. Of particular interest is its AR helmet, which could revolutionise the IIoT world. In 2015, Daqri opened its European headquarters at Dublin’s Silicon Docks, the epicentre of Irish IoT innovation.
Award-winning start-up Davra Networks is taking the IoT world by storm in Ireland and abroad. It has already worked with Cisco to create an end-to-end IoT platform in Texas. This year, it launched ConnecThing.io, a platform dedicated to solution providers.
Croke Park is not where DCU’s IoT ties end. The university runs an electronic systems course, allowing students to ‘major in IoT’. At its Ryan Academy, an accelerator supports IoT start-ups. And DCU researchers are currently working on a €4.6m cloud project that will support next-gen IoT development.
DCU Alpha (formerly DCU Innovation Campus), is a commercial innovation campus housing 35 companies working across emerging technologies in the connected health, clean energy and IoT spheres. The campus promotes the growth of these research-intensive businesses, supporting companies as they scale and innovate.
Dublin-based DecaWave – a company creating wireless sensors for indoor use – appears to be on a rapid rise to success in the coming year. Having already deployed over 1m IoT sensors last year with over $22m in funding, it now aims to deploy 5m devices by the end of this year.
Data storage company Dell EMC has firmly inked its IoT stamp on Ireland. Dell opened its first European IoT lab in Limerick in 2015 and, last month, the merged brand partnered with Asavie to create an end-to-end connectivity experience, helping to interweave the key players that make Ireland an IoT hub.
Deloitte Digital – the consultancy firm’s digital and IoT service provider – is considered a leader in its field internationally, but has also influenced development in Ireland. Last month, the company revealed it was partnering with Dublin-based PTC to accelerate IoT adoption with the ThingWorx IIoT platform.
Also at MWC 2017, home-grown Irish IoT success story Druid announced that its software is in use in a road safety test environment in Sweden, in IoT devices on oil and gas platforms in the Dutch North Sea, and in automation systems at the port of Rotterdam.
Eir has been expanding its IoT capabilities over the past year through partnerships with companies like Asavie to build an IoT Connect platform that can be used by small and large companies. This will see Eir’s cellular network be employed by businesses to connect machines in the field.
With 1,600 people employed across its Athlone and Dublin hubs, Ericsson’s global focus matches that of its Irish push, with 5G, IoT, fibre and VR just some of its areas of interest. The company currently has 800 people focused on next-generation software, and 400 involved in a global consulting hub.
From its Dublin base, Firmwave specialises in designing ultra-low power hardware and firmware for IoT and wearable devices. With aims of breaking into the sensor market – predicted to be worth as much as $34.75bn by 2023 – Firmwave’s Edge is the first low-power, wireless sensor network platform using the Intel Quark microcontroller.
One of the major global players in the IoT space, through both development and investment, IBM’s fingerprints are all over the industry. Claire Penny, IoT leader for IBM, recently told Siliconrepublic.com about the potential of the Watson supercomputer in industries such as healthcare, though its true reach could prove limitless.
One of the greatest proponents of making Ireland the ‘island of things’ has been IDA Ireland, the country’s foreign direct investment agency. When not encouraging companies like PTC to open a new IIoT R&D centre in Dublin, it is partnering with AT&T to collaborate and develop smart cities technologies.
Insight is one of the biggest data analytics centres in Europe and its researchers have significantly contributed to Europe’s strategic agenda for the internet of things. With 400 researchers across health, social media analytics and smart cities, Insight has ties to several institutes and universities, including UCD, DCU, NUI Galway and Tyndall National Institute.
One of Ireland’s finest companies, Movidius’ chip technology – low-powered and in demand across huge swathes of the IoT landscape – saw Intel snap it up last year. Intel is one of the top employers in the country at its Leixlip base, from where it supplies a significant proportion of the company’s 14nm chips globally.
Lero, also known as the Irish Software Research Centre, is an industry-focused SFI research centre based at the University of Limerick. Following a €46.4m investment last year, Lero’s scope expanded beyond pure software engineering research to a wider range of disciplines, combining its core research with targeted projects in hot sectors such as IoT, medical devices and smart cities.
Limerick IT has recently put itself at the forefront of IoT in Ireland, with newly received planning permission for a new IoT campus at Coonagh. The €14m campus will deliver graduates trained for the future of IoT in state-of-the-art facilities.
Following a 2016 merger with Irish security systems company Tyco, Johnson Controls, a leader in the building technology space in energy, HVAC, fire and security, moved its global HQ to Cork. The company also leverage IoT to deliver intelligent buildings, efficient energy solutions integrated infrastructure and next generation transportation systems that work seamlessly together to deliver on the promise of smart cities.
Along with being tied to a number of SFI research centres, Maynooth University was announced as the site for a new national radio test facility in January 2016. The centre, named RadioSpace, is part of Connect, SFI’s aforementioned national research centre for telecommunications, and aims to develop devices for 5G connectivity and IoT.
The Nimbus Centre at Cork Institute of Technology is Ireland’s dedicated IoT research centre. It conducts research in wireless embedded systems, data analytics, cloud-based software, and IoT-based systems integration. Nimbus improves companies’ goods and services with IoT, with clients including Philips, Bord Gáis and various start-ups.
Nokia Bell Labs
Nokia Bell Labs works on a significant amount of IoT projects throughout the country, becoming a subsidiary of Nokia when the latter revealed plans to acquire Alcatel-Lucent for €15.6bn. In recent months, Bell Labs has strengthened its partnership with Trinity College-based AMBER, with a project looking at the latest in laser technology.
Cork is the global headquarters of Liam Casey’s PCH, a $1bn-a-year supply chain player focused on professional services around IoT. The company, which also has offices in San Francisco and Shenzhen, devises the design and manufacture of connected devices, and has cultivated specialised relationships with brands such as Johnson & Johnson and L’Oréal.
PTC, a global provider of industrial IoT solutions, has played an important part in guiding Irish IoT research within the curriculum of institutions like TCD and Dublin Institute of Technology with its 3D modelling software solution, Creo. Last July, PTC created 50 jobs at a new Dublin R&D centre with support from IDA Ireland.
One of the Big Four firms, PwC is known best for its consultancy work. Less well known is its digital research arm, which examines how organisations can maximise and profit from tech investment. This involves substantial research into emerging technologies, such as augmented and virtual reality, artificial intelligence and the internet of things.
Founded in Dublin back in 1986, S3 has focused its business on two areas: the design and supply chain management of advanced semiconductors, and cloud and data analytics services for the health sector. Of particular interest to S3 is the design of semiconductors for satellite communications and the field of industrial IoT.
As well as handling myriad business support functions for German software giant SAP, Dublin is also home to SAP’s App Haus, as well as its BusinessObjects’ R&D centre, which develops business analytics. Specifically, App Haus works with start-ups on SAP’s next-generation in-memory computing platform SAP HANA, which can be harnessed to manage and deploy real-time IoT and M2M applications.
The Irish arm of Europe’s biggest industrial group was established in 1925 and has been involved in many of the country’s key infrastructure projects. These days, Siemens is experimenting in smart parking systems using Intel software, while its MindSphere IoT ecosystem can help improve industrial plant efficiency through the acquisition and analysis of large quantities of production data.
Silver Spring Networks
US smart energy player Silver Springs Networks has quite a presence in Mayo, last year bringing its smart city and energy efficiency programme to the town of Crossmolina. The company viewed the project as such a success that a comparable initiative began in Dundrum, Dublin, earlier this year.
SmartBay Subsea Observatory
Supported by the Marine Institute, Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland and SFI, the SmartBay Subsea Observatory is the IoT answer to the question of marine data. It collects data deep underwater using sensors, platforms and robotics and is a critical component of gathering information about the sea.
Wexford-headquartered Taoglas designs and manufactures antennas that enable M2M connectivity for wireless devices. Early last year, the company announced a $2m investment in a state-of-the-art San Diego IoT centre. Other investments in Taiwan, Germany and France give the company an international footprint.
Three is one of Ireland’s most prolific data carriers and had the largest market share of M2M subscriptions in Q2 2016 at 50.1pc, according to ComReg. Last year, Three’s Karim Benabdallah explained the brand’s sensor-centric view of IoT. “Our approach isn’t to brand former machine-to-machine solutions using cellular SIM cards with the IoT logo, which others may look to do, but rather distinguishing a new market,” he said.
TSSG, the Telecommunications Software & Systems Group at Waterford Institute of Technology, is a research centre dedicated to IoT development. The body claims to have delivered solutions to more than 210 start-ups in the past five years, with 14 spin-out companies emerging from its campus. In 2014, TSSG partnered with Tyndall to target €82m worth of EU funding for IoT start-ups.
The Tyndall National Institute, based at UCC, is one of Ireland’s leading IoT centres, with Siliconrepublic.com recently featuring 13 pioneering technology projects currently underway there. As mentioned above, Tyndall paired with TSSG to source EU funding for IoT start-ups in 2014 and, today, the centre continues to drive conversations and innovation in this space.
Ulster University is very active in the IoT space. In the past three years, it has spearheaded 20 projects, with a value exceeding £10m. Two particular areas of focus are robotics and healthcare, reflecting general industry trends. In January, the university hosted an Internet of Things Alliance event.
Switzerland-headquartered U-blox invests heavily in the development of IoT products and solutions, and its facility in Cork is one of its global R&D centres. U-blox’s chips, modules and software solutions can be used to locate a device’s exact position and communicate wirelessly over mobile and short-range networks.
University of Limerick
University of Limerick plays a big role in Ireland’s IoT ecosystem with strong links to a number of SFI research centres investigating this sector. This summer, the university will host an Internet of Things Summer School, offering a unique opportunity for students to learn about fundamental and state-of-the-art technology from UL’s industry experts.
Beyond offering mobile and fixed data connections to Irish consumers, Vodafone also uses its networks to support IoT. ComReg reported that, in Q2 2016, Vodafone had a 43.9pc share of M2M subscriptions in Ireland and, recently, Madalina Suceveanu, CTO of Vodafone Ireland, said, “IoT is a key component of the Gigabit Society and 5G.”
Supported by Enterprise Ireland’s New Frontiers programme, VT Networks successfully raised €1.2m last year to roll out Ireland’s first IoT network. Using Sigfox technology, the nationwide network went live in June 2016 and aims to connect 1m devices by the end of this year. Co-founder Mark Bannon believes that the future of IoT lies in creating products with zero battery consumption, noting specific potential with sensors in the agricultural sector.
Wia, led by Conall Laverty, is an NDRC-based IoT start-up that originated in Belfast, and aims to provide makers with a platform to bring home and school projects to life. Targeting both consumers and businesses, Wia’s SDK provides an interface between a hardware device and its real-time service. With just a few lines of code, a developer can create a production-ready product, as well as a complementary mobile app.
Want stories like this and more direct to your inbox? Sign up for Tech Trends, Silicon Republic’s weekly digest of need-to-know tech news.