Irish innovators and start-ups get top prizes at AI Awards

25 Nov 2021

Anne Sheehan of Microsoft Ireland and Tiago de Melo Malaquias of StatSports. Image: Conor McCabe Photography

UCC’s Infant research centre has won best application of AI in an academic research body for the third year in a row.

Several Irish innovators have been recognised for their use of artificial intelligence at the third annual AI Awards.

Held at Tangent, the Trinity College Dublin ideas workspace, the awards are organised by not-for-profit organisation AI Ireland and sponsored by Microsoft. They aim to recognise how AI can be ethically used to help solve challenges across multiple sectors.

For the third year in a row, the Infant research centre at University College Cork has won best application of AI in an academic research body for its work using deep learning in neonatal seizure detection.

University College Dublin PhD student Eoin Kenny took home the prize for best application of AI in a student project for his work on predictive AI modelling, explainable AI and precision agriculture.

Real-time electronic payments company ACI Worldwide took home the prize for best application of AI in a large enterprise. The US company has developed a new patented technology that aims to transform fraud prevention within the payments sector. It has its EMEA base and a state-of-the-art European data centre in Limerick.

The best of Irish start-ups

Outside of the large enterprise and academic prizes, there was also plenty of Irish AI start-up talent featured at the annual award ceremony.

Conversational AI start-up Webio was awarded best use of AI in a consumer service application. Its service enables organisations to connect applications across different communications platforms.

In June of this year, the Dublin-based start-up raised €500,000 in funding from Finch Capital to top off an investment round at €1.5m.

Fire1 Foundry took the prize of best use of robotic process automation and cognitive AI, having developed an implantable sensor for the remote monitoring of congestive heart failure patients.

The company raised €40m in a Series C round in 2018 to develop this sensor, having previously raised $7.5m in a Series B round in 2016.

Dublin start-up EdgeTier was awarded best application of AI in a start-up. Founded in 2015, this company aims to improve customer service by using AI to analyse the contents of emails and chats between customers and agents in real time, detect issues and alert contact centre managers ahead of time.

The start-up won the Google Adopt a Startup programme in 2019.

Sports technology company StatSports took the title of best use of AI in sector for its wearable player tracking devices and analysis software.

In 2018, the Northern Irish company scored a major deal worth $1.5bn with the US Soccer Federation and later that year secured another lucrative deal with the Chinese Football Association.

The award for best use of AI to achieve social good went to Terrain-AI. The Maynooth University-led research project was launched last year and aims to give a better understanding of the impact of human activity on land use and how it relates to the climate crisis.

Anne Sheehan, general manager of Microsoft Ireland, said it’s impressive to witness the growth of innovation and creativity when using ethical AI to solve complex societal challenges.

“Today’s winners demonstrate the positive impact that AI can bring to different sectors, from finance to health, from security and fraud prevention, to even addressing our most pressing environmental challenges.”

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Jenny Darmody is the editor of Silicon Republic