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The Feik School of Pharmacy, within the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas, was founded in 2004 with the mission of educating and graduating a new generation of highly-trained, culturally-competent, caring pharmacists and patient advocates to serve communities across Texas and beyond. The Feik School of Pharmacy is a learner-centered community dedicated to advancing healthcare quality in diverse populations through innovative methods.

To best provide for the continuity and safety of students and staff, the University of the Incarnate Word Feik School of Pharmacy (UIWFSOP) recently partnered with SEAtS Software to deliver a powerful student engagement software that tracks student attendance as well as provides COVID-19 Early Alert contact tracing.

Ireland-based SEAtS Software is a leading global vendor of student success solutions, helping educational facilities of all types engage and retain more students.

“Enterprise Ireland is thrilled to support SEAtS as they deliver this innovative platform for students, academics, and staff in order to encourage better student engagement and retention. Better, safer attendance and participation is very likely to lead to improved overall academic achievement and outcomes,” said Jessica Baker, Vice President of Digital Technologies, Enterprise Ireland.

The University of the Incarnate Word wanted to enable students to capture attendance online and on-campus, saving time for both students and staff. With online attendance tools, the students can check-in through live links for all online Zoom lectures. For in-class attendance, students can check-in using the SEAtS Attend Mobile App using Bluetooth iBeacons located in each teaching space.

Research has shown that attendance increases success in an academic program, and it is essential to help pharmacy students learn professionalism. UIWFSOP wanted a faculty- and student-friendly method to take attendance and promote the importance of time management.

The university had been searching for a faculty- and student-friendly method of taking attendance. They first discovered SEAtS in January 2020, then the COVID-19 pandemic struck. With the SEAtS introduction of thermal devices to monitor student temperature and a change in university policy requiring mandatory attendance tracking, the platform provided the necessary solutions.

“This meant that we could automatically check students’ temperatures as they arrived on campus and utilize contact tracing methods using the attendance data,” said Maize. “We saw SEAtS as an option to track attendance and temperature with a strong automated system in their workflows.”

Regarding pandemic safeguards, with SEAtS Contact Tracing tools, UIWFSOP will track and trace community transmission and move swiftly to alert students and staff of any potential risk. The platform also provides an Early Alert, where the workflow emails alert staff to “at-risk” students, so the staff can prioritize critical early-intervention steps to maintain the highest standards. With available SEAtS thermal scanners, the university can capture the students’ temperatures as they present themselves to campus for an additional level of screening.

“The SEAtS automated workflow will reduce the need for staff to monitor and communicate with students, faculty, and student services,” said David Maize, Dean of the University of the Incarnate, Word Feik School of Pharmacy. “It will greatly save us time so that the reason for the student’s attendance problem can be solved instead of the time-consuming task of determining who is actually absent.”

Additionally, the platform has helped the university reduce paperwork by moving away from manual attendance systems, saving the staff valuable time and improving accuracy. The platform’s cloud- and mobile-ready tools have increased student engagement and attendance, promoting student success and operational excellence.

“SEAtS is delighted to add Incarnate Word to our student success family, and we are excited to partner together in driving student engagement, retention, and better outcomes,” said Noel Dooley, CEO, SEAtS Software. “Incarnate Word is committed to continuous improvement. SEAtS Students Attendance App and Dashboards puts the shared information that Incarnate Word Leadership, Staff, and Students need to succeed at their fingertips every day.”

SEAtS Software was established with the vision of building the world’s most effective student success software in higher education, making it possible for each student on campus to achieve their full potential. Today, SEAtS Software delivers solutions to world-renowned institutions in the UK, the US, and New Zealand.

Galway-based Siren has developed a market-leading investigative intelligence technology that is shaping the future direction of law enforcement, cybersecurity, and financial fraud detection. The Siren platform enables large-scale interconnected data analysis in real-time at a scale that companies and government organizations require as they seek to deal with ever-more sophisticated fraudsters and cybercriminals.

The Siren platform merges functionalities that were previously disconnected, such as big data dashboards, link analysis, search engines, and operational monitoring. It brings new capabilities to data analysis that uncover relationships between datasets that were previously not visible.

The name Siren stands for semantic information retrieval, explains CEO John Randles. “The company spun out from NUI Galway,” he adds. “It was founded by Dr. Giovanni Tummarello and Dr. Renaud Delbru who had spent 10 years researching the semantic web and had thousands of academic citations between them.”

Put simply, the semantic web is a way in which data in web pages is structured and tagged in such a way that it can be read directly by computers.

Randles joined the company in 2017 having spent five years with Bloomberg and been involved in a number of fintech start-ups. “Siren wanted someone with a commercial background, so I joined as CEO and invested in the company,” he says.

The main applications for the technology are in the areas of law enforcement and intelligence, financial crime prevention and detection, cyber threat hunting, and life sciences, Randles adds.

“It’s about criminality and bad actors,” he says. “Looking for the bad guys who are trying to hide themselves. We are helping analysts solve the problem. We take four technologies usually deployed on their own – business intelligence (BI) dashboards, link analysis, content search, and operational monitoring – and put them together coherently for analysts. This changes how they solve problems and solve cases.”

Siren became a product company from 2016. “It was a consulting company before that,” says Randles. “We raised about $14 million in venture capital from Atlantic Bridge, Frontline Ventures, DVI Equity Partners, and others.”

Business has grown strongly since. “Revenues are up over 3X and bookings are up 5X in the last 12 months compared to the 12 months prior. We have our headquarters in Galway and now have offices in Dublin, Cambridge, Bordeaux, and Trento in Northern Italy. We also have a presence in Philadelphia and Washington DC and have just under 50 employees. Our market spread is global, and we have partners in the US, Brazil, Mexico, the Middle East, France, The Netherlands, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Korea.”

Growth prospects remain very exciting, according to Randles. “We have established a global distribution network. Some of our partners are quite mature and some are at the early stages of development. Some are specialists in law enforcement, some in the cyber area, and some in other areas. We look for partners with strong domain expertise in one of our key market areas and good connections into their local markets. Most have very good clearance from a security point of view. Very often, smaller vendors are very focused and very well trusted. We work with the big players as well, including PwC and its fraud and investigations practice in the US.”

Covid-19 has had an impact on the company, but in different ways, with demand for Siren’s platform growing of late. “Initially we were helping customers with contact tracing, but in the middle of the year things slowed down as people paused to make up their minds on what they were going to do. Security issues have come to the fore since then, as cyber threats have increased during the pandemic. Hacking attempts against Italian hospitals increased during the crisis, for example, as they were seen as being vulnerable. Organizations need to make better use of data in defending against cyberthreats.”

Enterprise Ireland’s support has been very important to the company. “Enterprise Ireland was part of our Series A funding round,” says Randles. “But their fantastic global network has been even more important than that. We were a global company from day one and it was fantastic to have access to Enterprise Ireland’s people around the world who knew the local markets and were able to provide introductions to governments.”
The value of those introductions was amplified by Enterprise Ireland’s investment in Siren. “Those governments trust Ireland,” Randles explains. “It is very good to be able to say to them that a government they trust is a shareholder in the company.”

Further validation for the company and its technology has come from Garter, which named Siren a 2020 ‘Cool Vendor’ in its Analytics and Data Science Report published earlier this year. In addition, Elastic, the company behind Elasticsearch, the open-source search and analytics engine for all types of data, is actively promoting Siren to its customer base due to an OEM deal between both companies.

“Elastic is a new breed of search database company, has a $10 billion market capitalization and its endorsement and validation is very important to us,” Randles adds.

Future growth and success will be firmly rooted in continued investment in research and development. “The reason I got involved and interested in Siren was the depth of the intellectual property coming out of the university into the company,” Randles explains. “We continue to invest in more research than most companies our size normally would. We have four patents pending and are involved in a number of EU research projects.”

FieldAware, a leader in made-for-mobile, cloud-based field service hub solutions, and Occly, manufacturer of the first wearable alarm system with cameras, have announced a partnership to provide superior safety and regulatory documentation for all field service organizations. The new partnership extends FieldAware‘s video capabilities allowing customers to leverage best-of-breed video capability through the FieldAware field service hub strategy. Field service dispatchers and the clients they serve now have full transparency into the completion of all safety protocols in real-time or anytime. 

“We are thrilled that our friends at Occly are taking this journey with us,” said FieldAware COO, Steve Mason. “In addition to FieldAware’s dynamic health and safety mobile forms, our customers can leverage best-of-breed video capability through our field service hub strategy as field service dispatchers and the clients they serve now have full transparency into the completion of all safety protocols in real-time or anytime. This additional safety monitoring is even more invaluable during this COVID period where social distancing is vital for field-based workers.” 

With Occly’s all-day safety wearable, service technicians can now record a 280-degree view around their users for risk management and loss mitigation, amongst other things. The lightweight device with a 22-hour battery life captures the surroundings and exactly what the technician is doing at all times.

The experience not only protects the safety of the technician, but it provides clients with the satisfaction of a job performed on time, correctly, and at regulatory standards.

“We designed our body cams to make sure remote workers are safe every moment they are on the job. Our real-time video access solution allows businesses to document events, store securely encrypted data to the cloud, and act immediately if they see a problem,” said Occly CEO, Marc Harris. “Our customers find that in addition to improving the safety of their workforce, end customer claims for damaged property or poor service are dramatically reduced and quickly settled due to definitive video evidence.”

 FieldAware is a cutting-edge, cloud-based, mobile field service management hub, empowering companies to transform their field service with automated processes and streamlined operations. FieldAware is advancing field service with comprehensive solutions including optimized scheduling, dynamic and intelligent forms capture, robust reporting and analytics, AR, and IoT.

FieldAware’s flexible platform streamlines technician enablement and digitizes business processes while automating the collection and dissemination of field and back-office information. Combining award-winning, easy to use/easy to adopt software with the industry’s best implementation and support services, FieldAware provides rapid ROI, accelerating improvements in productivity, safety, compliance, customer satisfaction, and revenue growth. 

Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, Occly creates technology that enhances the safety and security of users with the most comprehensive, proactive, and wearable alarm system available. In addition to safety, Occly offers workforce management tools to help employees and employers increase their efficiency and production. Occly offers management the option to incorporate reporting tools, these can range from tracking hours, days worked, distance traveled, speed violations, and a plethora of other features.

Bookings slowly increasing as vaccine wait continues, but international standards needed to get things moving properly

“What’s happened to the industry is just… horrible,” says Máire P. Walsh with a shake of the head. “On every level, nobody in the travel business has ever seen anything like it.”

It has indeed been tough. An immediate wave of cancellations hammered cash reserves across the sector, with travel restrictions prolonging the fear factor and hampering recovery. Six months on, where does the industry stand?

“Although the numbers still don’t look good, they are better than they were six months ago, with airlines and hotels reporting an increase in its US bookings,” says Máire P. Walsh, SVP of Digital Technologies with Enterprise Ireland. “At the Skift Global Forum, we heard Arne Sorenson (CEO of Marriott) report that their US bookings have improved from 10% of normal in March, back up to 35%.

“Delta Airlines is also coming back, mainly on foot of domestic travel,” says Walsh. “They are at 50% compared to this time last year and while that sounds bad, when you look at the wider context it does represent progress. There are reasons to be optimistic.”

She points to China, which “has a good story to tell” and where life is all but back to normal, with a QR code system allowing people to display their health status and go about their daily business. (“Bear in mind this is China, where Government has greater, and not always wanted, control,” she notes.)

“Marriott in China is back up to 90% in terms of bookings,” says Walsh. “Leisure was the first to come back, followed by business and now events, and that will largely be the case everywhere. Domestic air travel has now surpassed 2019 numbers.

“But international travel is at a standstill,” she says. “And that’s not going to improve until we have a global set of standards, with consensus over things like restrictions and quarantine. Different countries are doing different things and that uncertainty is holding back on international recovery.”

Walsh, one of the leading voices in travel tech, says that testing can help to get things moving.

“Absolutely it can, and we’re seeing that already,” she says. “Recently, San Francisco Airport (SFO) started rapid testing passengers on United flights to Hawaii, you can take a rapid test in SFO before your flight to Hawaii and bypass quarantine requirements, if you’re negative. United experienced a surge in demand and testing was oversubscribed. For the first three days, 18,000 people flew from SFO to Hawaii—a huge vote of confidence and an indication that it will work for longer distance international flights. Lufthansa is also set to begin testing and Emirates has been testing since April. Alitalia has two flights every day from Rome to Milan that will be strictly reserved for passengers who have tested negative for Covid-19 in the past 72 hours. This will become a new standard as we move forward and it will help drive confidence and recovery.

Even with increased testing, many people may simply be afraid to return to flying. How is consumer sentiment?

“We’ve seen two very encouraging pieces of research on that front,” Walsh says. “Southwest Airlines surveyed passengers and found that 50% of them ‘intended’ to fly. They followed up and found that, of the 50% that did take a flight, 80% of them said they would fly again. So, the appetite is there.

“There’s also been a study by Harvard that’s interesting,” she says. “They discovered that between HEPA filters [High-Efficiency Particulate Air filters; standard equipment on most commercial aircraft] and mask compliance, there’s only a 1% chance of contracting the virus on a plane.

“It’s promising,” she adds. “But I think most senior industry people would agree that, apart from a vaccine, a uniform set of guidelines is how travel is going to properly restart.”

Going forward, rapid testing, biometrics and contactless technology, and even an immunity passport will ensure a very different travel experience: flights just for people who have tested negative for Covid-19, fewer touchpoints, less human interaction, a more seamless experience. Here, Irish innovation is playing a leading role with airports, airlines and hotels.

“When we do come out the other side of this, travel as we have known it will be transformed due to innovation and the renewed drive and need for stakeholders to test new technologies,” says Walsh.

“We’re lucky in Ireland to have a thriving portfolio of companies with solutions to rebuild travel,” she goes on. Let’sGetChecked is a rapid PCR testing solution that was selected by American Airlines to restart their demand to Hawaii and The Caribbean. They have on average a 48 hour turnaround time and the test can be done at home or at the airport, all with FDA approval and an end-to-end solution.

Daon just launched a really exciting partnership with Denver International Airport to reduce passengers’ anxieties about social distancing at the airport.  VeriFLY allows passengers to make a reservation to access a dedicated TSA screening lane and a reserved limited-capacity train car to the concourse. Then we continue to build out this partnership to take advantage of their position as a leader in biometric and contactless technology.

“Another great example of Irish tech is the hygiene and accessibility solution from Mobility Mojo, which is now being used by Virgin Hotels,” says Walsh. “Richard Branson actually dedicated a LinkedIn post to how their solutions are helping to restore traveler confidence… a huge feather in their cap. Other companies like P3 Hotel Software are offering an interconnected and seamless online guest journey. This ensures an experience with limited or no interaction if desired by the traveler”.

Some of Enterprise Ireland’s most promising start-ups – as well as more established brands such as CarTrawler and Datalex – took part in the (virtual) World Aviation Festival recently, offering a glimpse of what we can expect from the of future travel.

“There was VRAI, a really interesting company that specializes virtual and augmented reality,” says Walsh. “VRAI already ran a successful test with IAG Cargo but their sweet spot is remotely verifying training, which is not only safer but can help airlines reduce costs.

“We also had Urban Fox, which is helping companies to deal with synthetic fraud,” she says. “And there’s the whole area of customer care where firms like Cation Consulting and EdgeTier are using AI, machine learning, and human power to help brands engage with customers at the right time through the right channel.”

Other Enterprise Ireland clients that were selected to take part include Noa, which translates written journalism into audio formats, as well as Coras and TripAdmit, both events-based ticketing firms.

“Now is the time for travel brands to look for ways to create additional revenue streams, particularly through new forms of ancillary like entertainment and ticketing,” says Walsh. “Travel will return, and operators need to be planning for the future.”

In terms of a recovery timeframe, she is understandably circumspect.

“It’s a tough one. IATA (International Air Transport Association) is projecting that we’ll be back to 2019 levels in 2024,” she says. “I think we’re going to see a number of jumps in demand and even further innovations that will hopefully get us back where we were.

“We’re all waiting for science to make the primary breakthrough,” she goes on. “In the meantime, once people take that first trip and see for themselves how brands are innovating to protect their customers, I think the reassurance will start to come back.

“Travel is a lot safer than many things people around the world are continuing to do,” says Walsh. “And technology is working overtime to help make it even safer.”

To learn more about Irish travel tech innovators contact Maire.Walsh@enterprise-ireland.com.

Technology is always evolving and throughout the global pandemic, it has proven its worth in more ways than one. Industry across every sector has relied on digital communication tools and innovative new ideas to help keep business moving – and the agricultural sector is no exception.

Brian McArdle of ProDig Attachments has many years of experience in the agritech industry and says technology is very much a part of the future of farming. “The main areas placing pressure on the agriculture sector are population growth, urbanization, climate change, scarcity of natural water, floods and droughts and food waste,” he says.

“Whether looking at it from a political or farming perspective, the conclusion points to the need for advanced technology for sustainability and profitability.”

Robbie Walker, CEO of Keenan agrees and says technology has never been more important in the sector.

“Everyone is really pressed for time – so lifestyle is a big issue as is farm economics and profitability,” he says. “And from a consumer agenda, all of these things can be much better achieved with new technology, be it digital, biotech or robotics.  So farmers need to start using new tech to achieve these goals.

“The advantages to customer are primarily around trying to drive farm efficiency, profitability, time management and also the green agenda – as a more efficient farm will be a greener farm if it produces less carbon and nitrogen. We have moved from an era of just selling products and now entered an era where we also sell a service.  And in these modern times it is not just a face-to-face consultancy – when we think about marketing in the past, it was all brochures and trade shows, whereas marketing for the future is about delivering insights to customers so they can make businesses more profitable and efficient.

“InTouch collects data on-farm and allows us to know what is happening on a day-to-day basis and provide feedback to the farm so we can help them be more efficient and also provide an overall solution of machinery and consultancy.  But we can also supply nutritional products so it’s a bundled offer as the farmer gets much more out of their machine – they are not simply buying a still, they are also getting a positive output on life, business and environment.”

James Maloney says the right R&D has led to some great innovations and brilliant products, but traditional engineering companies have to meet the changing needs of farmers.

“They need to align themselves with what is happening within the community and sector as profitability and efficiency go hand in hand,” he says. “If you create a machine which can make a farmer’s life easier and can solve a problem, it will be more profitable and reduce the time spent deciding what has to be done. R&D is massively important, but the return of investment has to be there for farmers who have to pay for everything, so the sector has to be innovative.

“Indeed the sector has gone through many different periods of transition, and I think the next one will be focused on the low carbon agenda, protecting soils and environment but also making sure to maintain profitability because we have to remain economically viable for our companies to be able to expand.”

While it is obvious that the agricultural sector needs to constantly innovate, Brian McArdle says it’s important to understand the driving factors behind digital farming – and manufacturers should be leading the way and listening to what farmers are requesting.

“It’s all about efficiency and making their lives simpler while increasing profitability within farming,” he says. “Things are changing at a rapid pace – with automation, sensors, disruptive technology, and cultivator methods and we have to listen to what farmers require and be proactive as you have to stay ahead to be in the game.”

Drones, robots which work 24 hours a day, platforms for exchanging knowledge, and understanding what is going on in the soil are just some of the ways in which technology is assisting modern farming methods. But while there are plenty of opportunities to be had, James Maloney says bringing ideas to market isn’t always straightforward.

“We have seen some challenges coming through and to be quite frank, the biggest challenge is commercial savvy or access,” he says. “Sometimes it’s a closed shop as it can be difficult to get into large companies or even countries. So it’s about relying on a network and figuring out where you can access into those markets.

“Also what companies offer those markets will vary in different countries and they will need to access different things. For example, Europe is definitely on the Green Deal and looking at environmental stuff but Americans are not there yet, so talking about Green in North America won’t get you far, but if you talk about efficiency you will. It’s the same thing but how you present and position it is very important.”

The experts agree that the European market is getting ‘pretty crowded’ with manufacturers but there are plenty of other areas with potential including the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America. The Asia/Pacific region is also deemed an exciting prospect from an ag-tech perspective

Environmental issues are also very topical; with issues including reducing nitrogen and carbon emissions, ammonia pollution in barns, farm nitrates leeching into water, and the requirements and regulations around these topics all looking set to be very relevant in the coming months.

Technology can not only help with providing answers to these problems but also enables communication and information-sharing between relevant parties.

And while the onset of Covid-19 was certainly a game-changer for the sector, it also provided some benefits.

“We are all aware of the challenges it presented from an operational perspective and it drastically changed the way we interact with the customer,” says Robbie Walker. “And the cancellation of major international trade shows played havoc with traditional marketing campaigns.”

But Brian McArdle says key account management across the world has become better and webinars and conference calls have made it possible to reach a wider audience with more frequency.

“Of course it does take training as people need to be savvy to know how to do it and it’s different as it’s a very sharp meeting with a strict agenda and a quick follow up,” he says. “But collaboration has been better across the board – and with more people from different parts of the world coming together at the same time, you can move things along, so we have sped up some of our initiatives.

“This is a very unique opportunity for ag-tech. The cost and time involved with attending shows is colossal – so if we can achieve substantial sales without those costs we can innovate and develop products more.”

Industry experts from TikTok, Microsoft, and more talk about the latest trends on cybersecurity & public policy

Enterprise Ireland hosted a virtual Cyber Security & Public Policy panel discussion with several industry-leading experts. The roundtable discussion allowed cybersecurity executives from leading organizations to come together and discuss The Nexus of Cyber Security and Public Policy.

The panel included Roland Cloutier, the Global Chief Security Officer of TikTok, Ann Johnson, the CVP of Business Development – Security, Compliance & Identity at Microsoft, Richard Browne, the Director of Ireland’s National Cyber Security Centre, and Melissa Hathaway, the President of Hathaway Global Strategies LLC who formerly spearheaded the Cyberspace Policy Review for President Barack Obama and lead the Comprehensive National Cyber Security Initiative (CNCI) for President George W. Bush.

Panelists discussed the European Cloud and the misconception companies have of complete safety and security when migrating to the Cloud and whether it is a good move for a company versus a big mistake. Each panelist also brought valuable perspective and experience to the table on other discussion topics including cyber security’s recent rapid growth and changes; the difference between U.S. and EU policies and regulations; who holds the responsibility for protecting consumer data and privacy; and more.

“As more nations and states continue to improve upon cybersecurity regulations, the conversation between those developing policy and those implementing it within the industry becomes more important,” said Aoife O’Leary, Vice President of Digital Technologies, Enterprise Ireland. “We were thrilled to bring together this panel from both sides of the conversation and continue to highlight the importance of these discussions for both Enterprise Ireland portfolio companies and North American executives and thought leaders.”

This panel discussion was the second of three events in Enterprise Ireland’s Cyber Demo Day 2020 series, inclusive of over 60 leading Irish cyber companies, public policy leaders, and cyber executives from many of the largest organizations in North America and Ireland.

To view a recording of the Cyber Security & Public Policy Panel Discussion from September 23rd, please click here.

Standing still during the lockdown earlier this year was neither an option nor a reality for XOCEAN. Remote teams dotted around the world came together to organize the logistics and operation of Unmanned Surface Vessels (USVs) to complete projects.

Since 2017, ocean data collection company, XOCEAN, has grown rapidly and excelled in delivering expert solutions within specialized sectors. The Louth-based outfit offers a range of turnkey data collection services to surveyors, companies, and agencies.

“We’re an ocean data company,” XOCEAN CEO, James Ives says. “We’ve developed unmanned technology and systems to collect different types of ocean data. Everything from mapping the seabed to inspecting subsea assets like cables and foundations for wind farms. We also collect environmental data for several sectors like offshore renewables, particularly offshore wind. And we operate globally.”

XOCEAN’s mission is to transform ocean data collection by bridging the knowledge gap that lies in 95% of the world’s oceans being unmapped. In doing so, they aim to support the sustainable and economic growth of our oceans. With goals like these, there’s no time to slow down, and the company has been busy fulfilling multiple projects for clients lately. They are supporting clients with asset integrity inspections, deep-sea sensor data transfer missions in the UK and Norway, and seabed mapping to improve nautical chart accuracy, safety, and marine environment understanding. Ives tells us they have also delivered projects in an area that he finds particularly exciting: offshore wind.

One such project involved remotely delivering and launching a USV to the sea off Suffolk to undertake survey work for the Greater Gabbard Offshore Wind Farm, a joint venture between SSE Renewables and innogy SE. The vessel carried out seabed surveys on multiple turbines at the 140-turbine wind farm, located 23 kilometers off the UK coast.

Ives believes that the use of unmanned systems holds three key advantages that will be even more relevant in a post-COVID world. “First of all, safety. If nobody needs to go offshore, that removes people from harm’s way. Second is carbon emissions. We generate about a 1,000th of the emissions of a conventional survey ship, and we offset all of those emissions. The data we collect is fully carbon neutral. Finally, we believe we can deliver the data at a lower cost.”

Offshore wind reaping the benefits of data experts

As an industry that requires vast amounts of data, offshore wind is an area where XOCEAN can offer real value. Throughout a typical offshore wind project, Ives tells us, ocean data collection and analysis is essential.

“Before an offshore wind farm is built, it needs many years of environmental data and detailed studies of the seabed to determine where to place foundations and cables. Then throughout construction, there’s a need for multiple surveys. After it’s built and is operational, there’s a 25-year period of maintaining those assets.”

Offshore wind is a crucial technology leading the charge in the face of an energy system undergoing rapid change. Globally, investment in the area quadrupled in the first half of 2020 as governments look towards sustainable futures and meeting international energy targets in an economically viable way.

“The offshore wind sector has transitioned from perhaps being a more expensive form of energy than traditional forms of fossil fuel generation, to become a huge economic way of generating electricity at large volumes,” Ives says. The growth of the industry is a testament to this: Offshore wind is anticipated to grow from 22 Gigawatts (GW) in 2018 to 177 GW by 2030.

The Irish offshore wind potential

Ireland has the potential to power itself, surrounded by a resource yet to be fully harnessed. Irish companies are perfectly positioned to offer specialized services and capabilities such as IoT, robotics, and wireless communications to the industry. Enterprise Ireland’s offshore wind industry cluster aims to empower Irish capabilities within the space, partnering to deliver global projects, and bring the expertise back to develop the domestic industry in Ireland.

Ives believes the Irish potential to become leaders in the field is strong. “Ireland is very fortunate that it has a lot of the ingredients needed for a very significant offshore wind market, particularly in the Irish Sea, where the water depths and wind resources are good. It’s an ideal place for very significant developments offshore.”

XOCEAN is building towards international success

Keeping cogs turning during a global pandemic is a sure sign of a bright future for XOCEAN. As well as having a keen eye on the offshore wind sector, Ives tells us that their focus is on fleet growth and entering new markets. “We’re working on the 10th and 11th vessels at the moment, and we continue to plan to build more units. We’re working further and further afield; in North America, throughout Europe, and we’re looking at several projects in the Asia Pacific region. We’re very excited about the future.”

Partnering with Enterprise Ireland

XOCEAN has maintained a close relationship with Enterprise Ireland since Ives flicked the switch in 2017. Through financial and market-entry supports, he says that the help they have received has been crucial and hopes to continue the relationship.

“We work very closely with Enterprise Ireland on a lot of activities, such as exhibitions and trade missions. And they’re very helpful for us in terms of introducing us to new clients in new markets. The international offices are fantastic at being able to provide that introductory service. We’re very grateful for the support we receive, and we look forward to continuing the relationship.”

XOCEAN is one of the 50 Irish companies currently involved with the EI offshore wind industry cluster, aiding in the development of expertise, the sharing of sector knowledge, and the introductions between new global partners.

“The Enterprise Ireland team is very focused on the offshore wind market. We’ve participated in offshore wind seminars, trade shows, and trade events. It’s an important market for Enterprise Ireland, and we agree. We feel that it has huge potential, so we would look forward to continuing that.”

Spearline and U.S. based Avaya have announced a partnership, which will maximize connectivity and connection quality supporting Avaya OneCloud video and collaboration apps, providing an exceptional user experience with better audio and video.

Enterprise Ireland- supported Spearline is a technology company that proactively monitors toll and toll-free numbers for audio quality and connectivity globally. The Spearline Platform enables enterprises and telecommunications service providers to test connectivity and audio quality on global telecoms networks, testing automatically at volume. Working with large enterprises across diverse sectors, Spearline has conducted millions of test calls worldwide, resulting in billions of data points.

Speaking about the partnership between Spearline and Avaya, Matthew Lawlor, Co-Founder and Chief Technical Officer (CTO) at Spearline said, “Avaya prides itself on providing businesses with innovative cloud-based applications that support collaboration and engagement with their customers and employees. Connection issues can severely impact interactions in contact center and remote working situations to the extent that not all calls may connect. By partnering with Spearline, Avaya has the tools to monitor their telecoms infrastructure both inside and outside of their network to help ensure call quality and connectivity, leading to positive customer and employee engagement.”

Powered by automation and layered innovation, Avaya OneCloud connects businesses, their customers, and their employees with everything they need, at the speed they need it.

Speaking about the partnership, Mehdi Nezarati, VP Cloud Operations and Platform at Avaya said, “Avaya OneCloud is a multi-cloud application ecosystem that enables organizations to deliver experiences that matter. Our telecoms infrastructure is critical to customer engagement capabilities for our collaboration solutions, and working with Spearline has helped increase visibility into the health of toll-free standard and conference numbers, allowing our users to seamlessly connect with their customers and employees.”

Spearline continues to grow and develop the company through its product, team, and customer base. Regular innovations in line with customer requirements are at the core of Spearline.

Founded in 2000 and based near Dublin, Ireland, Druid has grown to become a global leader in 5G, 4G, 3G, and 2G core network technology. The company has built its reputation on developing cellular network products for enterprise and custom mobile technology design and development services. Druid Software is now a core cellular network software company, and the Druid “Raemis” application has been deployed on some of the largest private network sites in the world. Druid offers a wide range of solutions covering Enterprise Communications, IoT Cellular Technology, Mobile Edge Computing, Public Safety, and more.

Recently, Druid Software successfully supported partners Federated Wireless — a pioneer in CBRS, OnGo shared spectrum technology — in their latest testing with Amazon Web Services (AMS) Snowcone devices for edge computing using 3.5Ghz CBRS (Citizens Broadband Radio Spectrum) spectrum in the United States. Snowcone is the smallest of the AWS Snow Family of edge computing devices. It is used for edge storage and data transfer and is ideal for use outside of a traditional data center with its ruggedized, secure, and purpose-built design.

According to Druid CEO, Liam Kenny, the company’s ability to scale down a complete 5G and 4G cellular core network to run on a very small, portable device make the collaboration a perfect fit for tight spaces or where portability is a necessity. Applications can include uses such as within the backpacks of first responders or IoT, vehicular, and even drone applications. Snowcone is designed for data migration needs up to dozens of terabytes (with up to 8 terabytes per device) and from space-constrained environments where AWS Snowball devices will not fit.

“Federated Wireless is a very innovative partner,” said Kenny. “It’s great to work with their team on another CBRS opportunity for Industry with this ideal edge computing device.”

Druid Software’s ability to develop and integrate leading business process applications with its dedicated coverage solutions is a key advantage. These applications are often essential to enterprises in vertical segments like Public Utilities, Healthcare, Transport, Manufacturing, Hospitality, Security and Public Safety/Emergency services, etc.

“Druid’s ability to deliver an MEC+ experience where they have scaled their Raemis 5G/4G core platform down to run on one the smallest devices in the AWS Snow family, is a great example of the agility and the ease of management and control of their core platform,” said Iyad Tarazi, President and CEO of Federated Wireless.

Druid’s portfolio includes enterprise-scale implementations of all network elements needed to run and operate a 5G/4G/3G/2G Private Cellular Networks. Virtual deployments are supported, and the technology can be hosted and delivered as a service.

“For almost twenty years, Druid has been implementing innovative mobile edge computing solutions to deliver the next generation of wireless broadband services,” said Michael Morgenstern, Enterprise Ireland SVP of Industrial Technologies. “We’re proud to support Druid in their work to make cellular networks more secure, efficient, and effective for a wide range of connectivity applications.”

Dublin based insurtech start-up Describe Data helps insurance underwriters develop a better understanding of risk, enabling them to price it properly and avoid the bad deals. “In the insurance industry there is a saying that there is no such thing as bad risk, just a bad price,” says Describe Data Chief Operating Officer Gerard de Vere.

The company uses data analytics to provide insights into financial lines risks such as directors and officers, employers practice liability, intellectual property, and mergers and acquisitions. “Our particular focus is on the directors and officers line,” says Chief Executive Michael Crawford. “This is insurance against companies being sued and provides protection for their directors and officers. Fifty percent of the world market for that cover is in the US, due to the existence of class action suits there as well as the country’s highly litigious culture. We gather data on companies and their sectors and analyze it to help insurance underwriters assess the risks.”

This particular type of insurance is very specific to large corporations. “We are talking about very big risks,” Crawford adds. “The policies are being written by underwriters who analyze the risk in a qualitative way. We are putting in a quantitive overlay which helps them price the risk better and do it quicker.”

The insurance industry is not noted for its early embrace of technology, however. “That can be a challenge,” says Crawford. “The industry has been around for 300 years and it never really felt that it needed technology while there was still plenty of money to be made.”

But it couldn’t resist forever. “It has been happening in capital markets for the past 30 years,” says Crawford. “And we have seen technology and data analytics being applied to catastrophe insurance for quite a long time. A lot of those tools and techniques have matured and the cost of computational power has fallen through the floor. We now have access to computing power that would have been the preserve of large academic institutions or governments 15 years ago and we can deploy these advanced techniques and tools at an affordable cost. At the same time, open-source software has been developed that allows people to share the latest solutions. It’s been a perfect storm.”

The Describe Data product is a risk engine that produces insights across four levels. The first is the financial level where it gives financial information on the company and its sector. The next is litigation and the likelihood of lawsuits against the company or within the sector.

The risk evaluation level looks at what happens if different aspects of the risk are adjusted. “The underlying market for risk is highly sophisticated,” de Vere explains. “People in the industry trade bits of risk with each other all the time and it is possible to reduce exposure in this way.”

The final level is portfolio analysis. A company may have written hundreds of these policies and the system can slice and dice the portfolio to find risk hotspots. For example, companies in the same sector, or sectors with high levels of litigation, or companies with a poor track record, can be identified for the insurer either to increase premiums or cease cover at the next renewal date.

“It’s quite a dynamic market,” says de Vere. “We have met a lot of people in London who are very savvy at this sort of thing. They have an innate skill and are very good at it. We put technology in to make it better, quicker, stronger. We call it bionic underwriting.”

That emphasis on supporting the people in the industry is very important. “People come in with robotic process automation and try to say it will replace underwriters,” Crawford notes. “But you can’t replace 300 years of underwriting experience and the instincts and innate knowledge that comes with that. What we are offering is intelligent decision support tools that help people make better decisions faster.”

Crawford explains the value of these tools. “If a company takes 100 risks, four or five might claim. Three of those will be quite minor, one will be quite large, and one will be huge. We offer the ability to understand the risks and identify the bad ones. Avoiding the one with the very large claim can transform a portfolio from a margin of 5% or 6% to 20% or 25%.”

The company is now marketing the product following a delay caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. “We spent a couple of years developing the product after we started up in 2018,” says de Vere. “Towards the end of last year, we were looking for a large insurance company to partner with to take the product and prove it. We had a couple of promising leads and then the pandemic hit and the appetite for a pilot disappeared. We decided to double down and continue product development, and we completed that work during the lockdown. We now have a product ready to go to market and we are talking to a number of potential clients.”

Looking ahead, Crawford says the company will probably go to the market for a funding round next year. “We have been self-funded so far and will probably take on investment at the beginning of next year to sustain our growth. Enterprise Ireland has been amazing in helping us. We want to continue research and development and move into other lines of insurance. It’s a very interesting time to be doing this.”

Ireland’s long heritage in call centers, its position as a global technology hub, and its highly supportive customer experience ecosystem place it at the leading edge of the rapidly transforming business process outsourcing (BPO) and global business services sector.

Today, more than 60,000 people are employed by over 250 business process outsourcing providers in Ireland. They provide global customers with a range of complex, high-value services, including multilingual customer support, regulated foreign exchange transactions, insurance claim handling, pre-sales and sales functions, social media monitoring, technical support, and healthcare management.

Ireland’s track record in the industry stretches back almost 40 decades to the 1980s when the strong communications skills and interpersonal strengths of its people helped to establish the country as one of the world’s first call center hubs. Indeed, by the mid-1990s Ireland was recognized as Europe’s undisputed contact center capital.

Contact centers have grown in scale and scope since then and now provide a wide variety of customer support services through phone calls as well as an array of channels ranging from social media to web chat. This omnichannel customer engagement is now referred to as customer experience or CX.

That combination of technology and the natural interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence of the Irish people has seen the industry here move from dealing with relatively simple issues to solving highly complex problems for customers around the world.

In today’s intensely competitive world, the most valuable part of many businesses is their brand, and customer experience is a key contributor to brand value. The fact that many of the world’s leading companies have chosen to entrust that customer experience to Irish partners is an indication of the regard in which the industry is held internationally.

The industry in Ireland is now characterized by the large cohort of multinational companies that have a presence here, as well as the strength of its indigenous CX sector. Leading multinationals in the sector include PayPal with its major customer experience center in Dundalk and Voxpro.

Originally founded in Cork, Voxpro is an international business process outsourcing specialist with Irish operations in Dublin and Cork, as well as centers of excellence in North and Central America, Europe, and Asia. This highly innovative company was acquired by TELUS International in 2017 and now employs over 34,000 people.

Leading Irish companies in the sector include AriseAremaAbtranCovalenForward EmphasisFexcoPageboyRigney DolphinRelateCareSalesSenseZevas, and CarTrawler.

CarTrawler is the world’s largest online marketplace for car hire, processing over 900 million hires per year across the globe. It employs 450 people, including 42 different nationalities, and covers 20 languages. In the past number of years, it has transformed itself from a call center operation to a digital contact center.

This critical mass of technologically advanced global business services and customer experience companies is backed by an equally advanced support ecosystem which includes Ireland’s internationally renowned research capability. Support in areas such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and advanced data analytics is provided by the Adapt and Insight Science Foundation Ireland Research Centres, while the Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland-backed CeADAR Technology Centre work with CX companies in areas such as customer, text, social media, location-based, and sentiment analytics.

The close collaboration between research and industry has propelled the Irish CX and business process outsourcing sector to the front rank internationally when it comes to the application of leading-edge technologies.

Ireland’s status as a global technology hub, with all of the major technology giants including Google, Amazon, Facebook, and so on located here, has given the global business services sector an inside line on the latest customer experience technologies.

That technological advantage is overlaid by a skills base unrivaled internationally when it comes to depth and quality. The country’s education system is ranked in the top 10 globally for quality and relevance to industry. Ireland’s IT specialists are among the best educated in the EU, with 82% having a third-level qualification – compared with an EU average of 62%. In addition, 56% of 30–34 year-olds have a third-level qualification, as opposed to 40% in the EU.

In addition, Skillnet Ireland, a specialist in workforce learning, has created a number of industry-led programs for the sector right up to master’s degree level. The strength of this unique ecosystem is why the Global Innovation Index ranks Ireland 10th in the world.

That ecosystem is rounded off by support from Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland. Around 90% of the firms in the sector are now engaged in some form of technology or process innovation with Enterprise Ireland support. This includes firms of every size and stage of development.

The industry is also highly proactive when it comes to promotion and development initiatives. The Customer Contact Management Association (CCMA) works to ensure that Ireland continues to lead the way in CX development, while Crios, a group of long-established and experienced global services providers, facilitates the continued growth of the industry by offering international customers a single access point for a highly professional partnering solution for their customer contact needs. Service offerings from Crios members cover all major sectors, including finance, public sector, technology, utility, and communication.

The inherent strengths of the Irish industry place it in an ideal position to be one of the winners from the wave of disruption that will result from the increasing use of AI, machine learning, chatbots, and natural language processing.

The Irish industry has consistently moved towards higher-value activities over the years and despite increasing automation, employment has continued to grow. Ireland’s highly educated workforce is ideally suited to solving very complex problems for customers. Robotic process automation and other technologies facilitate them by freeing up time to spend on delivering those solutions.

The same technologies also make the industry uniquely suited to the new world of work being created by the Covid-19 pandemic. The great majority of roles can be performed remotely with no impact on quality or productivity. This in turn makes companies in the industry more attractive as employers and more capable of retaining key talent.

The stars are aligning perfectly, giving Ireland a unique opportunity to strengthen its position as the location of choice for companies looking for global business services partners or to expand their own customer experience operations. Ireland’s workforce is continuing to upskill into higher-value roles, and this is helping to position Ireland as a globally recognized location where complex customer interaction and experience intersects with technology.

To slightly rephrase an old proverb, innovation is born out of necessity – and never has the world been more in need than now, as Covid 19 continues to rage across the globe. But once again, Ireland is proving its worth as a nation of inventors by coming up with some truly life-changing responses to the pandemic – so much so that we are now ranked fifth in the world for global exports of Covid 19-related goods, according to the OECD.

recent report from the OECD revealed that exports of Covid 19-related goods are concentrated in a few key countries. The top five global exporters, which together account for 49% of trade, are Germany, the United States, Switzerland, China, and Ireland.

This report backs up the findings of a previous survey by StartupBlink, a Swiss-Israeli producer of global startup ecosystem maps, that named Ireland as sixth in a global ranking of countries responding best in terms of innovation to the pandemic

Flexibility is key

The pandemic has shown once more how important it is for companies to be flexible in our rapidly changing world, in order to respond to the needs of the market. Many of Enterprise Ireland’s client companies have pivoted to develop solutions in areas such as contact tracing, traveler safety, Medtech, and hygiene transparency in the hospitality sector.

Ireland is ranked as one of the top five global MedTech hubs, and many of our top companies have ramped up production in order to meet the world’s demands for nebulizers, ventilators, and other treatment and protection equipment. For example, Medtronic, the world’s largest standalone medical device maker, produces ventilators in Galway and has more than doubled its workforce of 250 and moved to round-the-clock production. Enterprise Ireland client company Aerogen has also increased production of its aerosol drug delivery products through ventilators to patients in critical and intensive care. And, Galway-based M&M Qualtech, which produces ventilators, nebulizers, and medical monitoring equipment for Medtech customers including Aerogen and Medtronic, has reported capacity demand three to five times higher than pre-crisis levels.

Technology innovations

Many Irish companies have also come up with technology solutions in a number of areas to help us through the crisis. Software development company NearForm worked with the HSE to develop Ireland’s national Covid Tracker app, which rapidly notifies those who have been in contact with someone who subsequently tested positive for Covid 19. This technology is now being used in apps in Northern Ireland, Gibraltar, and Scotland, and in several states in the US, including Delaware and Philadelphia.

Other Irish technology companies producing innovative solutions during the crisis include:

  • Scheduling software company Swiftqueue – optimizing appointments at Covid-19 urgent test centers
  • Irish identity technology firm Daon– working with Denver International Airport to pilot a multi-faceted ‘seamless travel’ program, designed to solve the challenges of bringing passengers and employees back to airports
  • Internet of Things specialist Taoglas – helping public and private sector organizations to manage crowd sizes in order to maintain social distancing
  • Digital mental health providers SilverCloud Health – opened up part of its platform free of charge to help millions of people cope with the mental impact of Covid 19
  • News story tracker company NewsWhip – its Covid19 Live Story Tracker ensures its users receive accurate, real-time data and analytics
  • Dublin-based software company Aerospace Software Developments – providing software to airline FlyDubai to monitor the cleanliness of aircraft seat covers
  • Cybersecurity exporter Edgescan – helping its clients understand, prioritize and mitigate cybersecurity risks for a remote workforce
  • Surface innovations company Kastus– its pioneering patent 24/7 antimicrobial coating technology for touchscreen/other surfaces has been proven to be effective against Covid-19 on surfaces

Innovative solutions

Other Irish companies are responding to the crisis by using their flair for innovation to come up with answers to help the crisis. Irish engineering firm Combilift is a world leader in forklift trucks and a specialist in solutions for challenging situations such as long loads or in limited space. Its team applied the same kind of ‘outside the box’ thinking to develop the Combi-Ventilate, a splitter device that turns one ventilator into multiple ventilator stations.

Irish biotech company Aalto Bio has announced the availability of a new protein, SARS-CoV-2 nucleocapsid protein (code CK 6404), for diagnostic test manufacturers, vaccine developers, and researchers globally, for use in the fight against Covid 19.

Novaerus, an Irish company specializing in medical-grade clean air solutions, produces a patented, portable air disinfection device, the Defend 1050, which has been proven to reduce MS2 Bacteriophage (a surrogate for Covid 19) by 99.99% in just 15 minutes.

Finally, Hibergene Diagnostics has developed an innovative new test for Covid 19, which delivers positive results in just 30 minutes – significantly faster than current tests.

These are just a few of the Irish companies that have responded positively to the current crisis, proving once again that innovation and flexibility are part of our DNA as a country.