Limerick to be centre of smart manufacturing with new SFI Confirm centre

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Limerick’s prowess in all things engineering is about to be bolstered with the launch of SFI’s Confirm smart manufacturing research centre.

Last September saw a big moment for Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) as it marked the launch of four new research centres representing an investment of €74m from the Government over six years, with a €40m investment from industry.

Now, one of those centres has received its grand opening with the aim of not only boosting Ireland’s achievements in the field of smart manufacturing, but Limerick’s in particular.

Led by the University of Limerick (UL), the SFI-funded Confirm centre is to be one of the largest new research and development centres in Ireland, representing a manufacturing sector that accounts for 24pc of the country’s total economic output.

It also will also be supported by 42 industry partners, including technology providers and end users from both major corporations and SMEs across Ireland.

Once open, it aims to optimise the industry with added intelligence and enhanced information technology to shorten supply chains and speed up development of new innovations across the board.

This includes, SFI said, adding intelligence to Ireland’s production systems and creating the factories of the future where products can be fully customised and adaptable.

‘A game-changer for Irish manufacturing’

Commenting ahead of the launch, UL’s Prof Conor McCarthy, Confirm centre director, said: “This truly is a game-changer for Irish manufacturing competitiveness.

“The establishment of this SFI research centre will position Ireland to play a leading role in the global smart manufacturing revolution. This innovation will enable consumer-driven mass customisation, where future Irish products will be tailored to individual needs and delivered directly to them just hours after placing orders.”

He continued: “Confirm will act as a beacon for international talent in the areas of advanced manufacturing, from robotics to artificial intelligence.

“Ireland enjoys a highly skilled and highly motivated workforce in the manufacturing sector; this workforce is the envy of other nations. Confirm builds upon this reputation and seeks to establish a world-leading centre for smart manufacturing.”

Researcher openings

Minister of State for Training, Skills and Innovation John Halligan, TD, also welcomed the news as a sign of Ireland’s ability to attract top international researchers.

“Confirm will bring top researchers across higher-level institutes in Ireland together with key industry partners to drive the future of smart manufacturing,” he said.

Its opening will be a boon to researchers, with a total of 87 PhD students to be recruited to Confirm both at UL and its partner institutions nationwide.

A further 97 senior research fellows and postdoctoral researchers will also be working with the centre.

Colm Gorey is a journalist with Siliconrepublic.com

editorial@siliconrepublic.com