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Irish-led company WaterWipes, will, this summer, make available a new wipe product specifically developed for all adults and those with sensitive skin

When it comes to matters of the skin, we all want to use products that are kind, gentle, and healthy. Baby wipes from, Irish-led company, WaterWipes are the world’s purest wipes specifically designed to be as mild and as pure as using cotton, wool and water, and are safe for even the most delicate skin. This summer, WaterWipes will release a new range of wipes designed specifically for adults with aging and sensitive skin.

“As we age, our skin becomes much thinner and less pliable, mature and older skin can become dry and fragile,” said Jill Sommerville, Global Medical Manager, WaterWipes. “Because of this, healthcare professionals recommend that carers be aware of the ingredients present in any product when cleaning delicate skin. WaterWipes with minimal ingredients is an ideal cleansing choice.”

WaterWipes are developed through a unique and patented technology that alters the molecular structure of normal water, causing energy to be released within the pack, which results in sterilized wipe material. This process also slightly alters the surface tension of the water, allowing for a unique “soft feel” on the skin and making WaterWipes even more effective at cleaning than dry wipes or cloth and regular water. They eliminate the risk of cross-infection present in reusable towels and are soft, gentle and clean effectively.

WaterWipes are a fresh, natural product that contains just two ingredients—99.9% Water and a drop of fruit extract—so they are suitable for older, delicate skin.

“WaterWipes do not contain any unnecessary ingredients, they are fragrance-free, and do not leave any harmful residue or sticky feeling on the skin,” said Sommerville. “Suitable for sensitive skin, our larger adult wipes can be used anywhere on the body and are ideal for hygiene cleansing.”

Specifically designed with a textured finish to be gentle on all skin areas, WaterWipes Professional Care wipes are safe for cleaning the face and hands, intimate areas as well as incontinence related issues.

“WaterWipes is a great example of an Irish company on the leading edge of hygienic technology,” said Catie Riordan, VP Consumer Retail, Enterprise Ireland. “There is a great deal of innovation involved, and we’re very proud to support WaterWipes mission to help us all be more healthy, clean, and comfortable and to use minimal ingredients.”

Scientific research in the area of deeptech is increasingly driving success for top fintech companies.

Deeptech is the term applied to technologies that result from the commercial application of cutting-edge scientific research. They are the technologies that create radically new solutions, the kind that can upend existing products, processes and even markets.

It is little wonder then that deep technology, the kind that emerges from scientific breakthroughs, is now driving innovation in Ireland’s fintech sector.

Ireland is an established fintech hub. It’s also a country where government policy actively supports the fostering of links between industry and academia.

What deeptech offers top fintech companies

Right now deeptech such as blockchain, artificial intelligence, and machine learning are being used to drive business performance and to create and capture new commercial opportunities across a range of sectors.

But deeptech is having particular resonance for top fintech companies, as both new and existing financial services players respond to the challenges and opportunities emerging from the increased digitization of banking, the advent of new payment platforms and ever-changing compliance requirements.

Fintech is an area in which Ireland excels

“Ireland is really good at fintech. Enterprise Ireland [the trade and innovation agency] has a really strong portfolio of top fintech companies in this space and, indeed, is one of the largest investors in fintech start-ups in the world,” says Eoin Fitzgerald, Enterprise Ireland’s senior advisor for fintech.

Enterprise Ireland has invested in over 80 fintech start-ups since 2014. Its portfolio of more than 200 financial services and fintech clients generated over €1 billion in revenue in 2017.

“Ireland is now showing strength in deeptech for the same reasons that it developed its strength in fintech – because it has both a strong international financial services sector and a strong technology sector,” he says.

Ireland is the fourth-largest exporter of financial services in the EU. More than 250 of the world’s leading financial services firms operate in the country. Almost half of all global hedge fund assets are serviced from Ireland.

It is also home to the operations of nine of the world’s top 10 technology companies, including Facebook, Google, and Amazon.

But while Ireland plays host to the world’s leading technology and financial services companies, none of them competes for customers there, a fact that has allowed for an extraordinary culture of collaboration to grow here.

Research excellence driving deeptech developments

This culture extends to the third and perhaps most important driver of Ireland’s strength in deeptech – its strong academic research base.

“Ireland’s most successful deeptech start-ups are either university spin-outs or are created through the commercialization of the really good fundamental research being carried out here,” says Fitzgerald.

Right now much of this academic research is going into fintech, an area that enjoys enormous support in Ireland.

This was evidenced most recently by the announcement that ADAPT, the Science Foundation Ireland center for research in digital content, has launched a new financial technology research program, called Fintech Fusion.

The four-year program is headquartered at Trinity College Dublin. It involves researchers from Ireland’s Insight Centre for Data Analytics, itself a joint initiative between researchers at Dublin City UniversityNUI GalwayUniversity College Cork, and University College Dublin. It also involves researchers from Lero, the Irish Software Research Centre.

FinTech Fusion is supported by such partners as Ireland’s Industrial Development Authority, the Fintech and Payments Association of IrelandInsurance Ireland, and Columbia University.

Its researchers are working with more than a dozen companies to drive breakthroughs in payments, regulation and insurance technologies. The goal is to create fintech innovations with the potential to impact economies, markets, companies, and individuals.

It’s just one example of the way in which Ireland’s collaborative culture is enabling deeptech to drive fintech innovation.

Enterprise Ireland supports fintechs

Enterprise Ireland is to the fore in this process, having recently launched a major new fund to support those fintech and deeptech start-ups that it believes has the capacity to succeed in global markets, in a bid to further innovation in the area.

The new fund is aimed at companies working in areas such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, augmented and virtual reality, the internet of things (IoT), and blockchain, with a view to helping them achieve key technical and commercial milestones.

It was launched by Ireland’s Minister of State for Financial Services, Michael D’Arcy TD, who affirmed that “developing and supporting the fintech sector is a national priority”.

All this work to support the commercialization of research is coming to fruition through the success of Enterprise Ireland’s deeptech clients.

“There is a lot of innovation going on, a lot of really interesting technologies emerging and a lot of really good research being commercialized,” says Fitzgerald.

This includes the success of award-winning start-up RecommenderX, who uses machine learning to guide enterprise teams to better data-driven decision-making, and which has worked with companies such as Mastercard.

It includes start-ups such as DataChemist, a Trinity College Dublin spin-out that helps organizations to find new insights that up until now were hidden in their existing data. It is currently building enterprise knowledge graphs for some of Europe’s largest financial organizations.

It also includes groundbreaking companies such as AID:Tech, who uses a combination of blockchain, artificial intelligence, and machine learning to create a decentralized digital identity platform that empowers people to manage their own data securely and privately.

AID:Tech pioneered the delivery of international aid using blockchain technology, doing so first for Syrian refugees in Lebanon, on behalf of the Irish Red Cross.

Today it brings transparency to the distribution of aid, welfare, remittances, and donations around the world, being nominated as one of Europe’s 100 Digital Champions by the Financial Times in the process.

It’s just one of a growing number of Irish fintech start-ups that have been sparked into life by scientific breakthroughs. It’s also just one more example of how, in Ireland, fintech’s foundations run deep.

Total Store Expo is a one-of-a-kind opportunity for retailers and their suppliers to gather for networking opportunities, share information, and discuss best practices for advancing business. It is the seminal show for the drug store industry. By addressing multiple functions and encompassing all products and categories available in today’s stores, attendees gain new insights into all facets of retail operation.

The TSE expo format includes formal business programs featuring renowned experts and speakers, as well as a variety of Insight Sessions which feature industry experts and panels on some of today’s most important issues. This year, the Total Store Expo is being held in Boston, Massachusetts, Aug 24 thru 26, and several Enterprise Ireland-supported clients will be exhibiting.

“This is our second year bringing a delegation to Total Store Expo,” said Catie Riordan, Enterprise Ireland Vice President and Market Advisor for Consumer Retail. “We’re proud to support a strong cohort of Irish companies this year, with unique products and technology of high interest to U.S. stores and consumers. All of these Irish companies are leaders in their respective verticals in Europe and are expanding rapidly in the U.S. market.”

The following Irish companies will be on-hand at Total Store Expo to preview their latest innovations in areas including consumer-packaged goods, store/pharmacy technology, pharmaceutical products and more.

WaterWipes

WaterWipes was created by founder Edward McCloskey after his newborn daughter suffered with a bad rash. WaterWipes are the world’s purest wipes specifically designed to be as mild and pure as using cotton, wool, and water, and are safe for even the most delicate skin. WaterWipes are a fresh, natural product that contains just two ingredients — 99.9 percent water and a drop of fruit extract. This summer, WaterWipes will release a new range of wipes designed specifically for adults with aging and sensitive skin.

Scope

Scope is an eyecare company that is dedicated to providing healthcare professionals and patients with high-quality, effective and innovative products. This family-run company has a very successful history in healthcare within Ireland stretching back over 80 years. Scope offers a range of innovative products for Dry Eye and Blepharitis a category that is growing very strongly in the U.S. Scope products are market leaders in their categories and recommended by all leading Eyecare Professionals.

Freezadome

The Freezadome is the world’s coolest glass and is a patented innovation which was born at the crossroads of science and design. The cooling technology of Freezadome was developed by a scientist who formerly worked with NASA and the European Space Agency, while the design was crafted by leading Irish crystal designers. The company also developed a range of cooling and warming personal “Therma” products for people in need of comfort solutions. The company has developed many items suitable for sports enthusiasts to keep them either cool when present in a stadium or outside in very warm climates.

Carter Beauty

Formulated by CEO and beauty expert Marissa Carter, CocoaBrown Tan founder, Carter Beauty is the evolution of the award-winning brand ‘by Marissa Carter’. Just like Cocoa Brown, Carter Beauty is cruelty-free (and PETA approved), fuss-free (no complicated techniques here), and value for money. From long-lasting, jet-black gel liner, to high pigment, easy to blend shadows and color-pop matte lipsticks, the Carter Beauty brand has something for everyone, without the hefty price tag

Fleming Medical

A family-owned innovator of healthcare devices for Home Diagnostics, Sport Care, First Aid, and Wound Care Sectors. In business for over 30 years, Fleming Medical designs and produces high-quality healthcare products under the Medicare, Physiologix, and LifeSense Brands.

Pointy

Used by over 6,000 retailers across all 50 U.S. states to effortlessly list their store inventory online, Pointy technology automatically finds product images and descriptions for products sold and hosts them online in a manner that indexes well in local search results.

Intouch.com

The Intouch mission is to empower every retailer with technology, data, and insights to better serve their customers. Since 2015, Intouch.com has been helping physical retailers better connect customers to products. The company’s award-winning patented technology is the leading Retail Personalization Platform.

GoContractor jumpstarts new brand with contractor orientation solution to be used on the largest construction site in the U.S.

Safety first! Particularly in the construction industry, where mistakes on the worksite can truly mean life, death or a hefty medical bill.

It’s better to be safe than sorry, right? Safety keeps site-projects profitable while ensuring a positive brand reception.

As mechanization evolves and more tech-solutions are introduced, construction has become easier, quicker and cheaper. As a result, safety training, now more than ever, is an essential and effective way to cut costs and maximize workforce potential.

An Irish company GoContractor (formerly Initiafy), has designed an online orientation platform for employees that ensures compliance with safety regulations while reducing the likelihood of accidents.  This means less time wasted in classrooms and a better (and more comfortable) learning environment for electricians, plumbers, contractors and more.

GoContractor eliminates hours wasted on on-site orientation by enabling crews to do their training online before they hit the ground. With GoContractor, orientation is all done in advance, on a smartphone, tablet or computer, freeing up time for the important stuff – like getting the job done.

Major construction companies, such as Gilbane, Lendlease, and Skanska are now turning to this technology to achieve compliance across all on-site sub-contractors, keeping workers safe and cost and risk low.

CEO John Naughton

 

“Sub-contractors can be verified and inducted from the comfort of their own homes and offices, and they arrive at the project on day one ready to hit the ground running,” said John Naughton, the new CEO of GoContractor. “Our technology helps harness the dynamism within construction companies and helps to prevent accidents, delays and cost overruns.”

Since opening offices in Manhattan four years ago, GoContractor is now used by half of the top-20 general contractors across America. The company has also launched what will become the largest construction site in the U.S. – the development of a new $10 billion LCD screen factory complex in Wisconsin, for the Taiwanese company, Foxconn.

The 20-million-square-foot campus is the largest greenfield investment by a foreign-based company in U.S. history. The project will be managed by a long-term customer of GoContractor, Gilbane Construction Company.

“GoContractor gives us control over the first steps contractors take to become safe and knowledgeable members of our workforce,” said Pat Conlon, Project Executive, Gilbane. “Now we have a robust induction and registration process that ensures No Induction = No Work Badge.”

Rather than sitting in a classroom for an hour before attending site, workers take the orientation at their own pace, via a laptop, tablet or smartphone. Having the training done in advance frees up valuable hours each day for superintendents, safety managers, and project managers by eliminating paperwork and face-to-face training requirements. This can reduce onboarding costs by as much as 50 percent.

Over the past 12 months, GoContractor has doubled the number of construction projects coming on board and is projecting headcount growth to reach 50 people across Ireland and North America by the end of 2019. According to GoContractor Co-founder, Julie Currid, the focus is now on sharing best practices and partnerships across the Atlantic.

“We’re working with the best of the best in both regions, and we have really strong relationships with all of our customers,” said Currid. “we’re in a unique position of being able to add value in terms of what works well when it comes to the adoption of new technology into a fairly traditional market.”

GoContractor is part of a growing cohort of Irish construction technology companies that are operating in several international markets.

Consolidation will continue in the global airline sector, as full-service carriers are increasingly forced to compete with low-cost competitors, Irish aviation expert Patrick Murphy told delegates at a Travel Massive event in Dublin.

Murphy is a former chairman of Ryanair, began his aviation career at flag carrier Aer Lingus, and worked for IATA before providing consultancy to clients such as Gulf Air and All Nippon Airways. He currently works with Peach Aviation, the Japanese low-cost airline.

He was interviewed at Travel Massive Dublin by Ornagh Hoban, CMO of Datalex, in a packed auditorium containing representatives of Ireland’s travel tech industry.

Ireland is an established travel tech hub that includes companies such as Arvoia, which provides AI-driven technology to travel companies, ASD (Aerospace Software Development), and Flightman, developer of a suite of software products that synchronize data exchanges between aircraft and airline ground systems.

How low-cost carriers have disrupted the global airline sector

Murphy was appointed chairman of Ryanair in 1991. Three decades later, the turbulence caused by its arrival – and that of South West before it – are still being felt.

The dominant trend is now the efforts established airlines are being forced to make to compete with low-cost carriers. “They have to, their profitability depends on it,” said Murphy.

That’s a process that’s not going to stop. Low-cost carriers have already disrupted full-service airlines in Europe and the US, and are now doing the same in Asia, he said.

Consolidation will remain the order of the day. “There were 12 major carriers in the United States in 1990. There are now effectively three, plus three low-cost airlines,” he said.

“Consolidation is part of the inevitable effect of trying to get more competitive as a full-service airline. In Asia, we are seeing exactly the same phenomenon. Meanwhile, low-cost carriers can continue to do things differently.”

Will an ‘Amazon of travel’ emerge?

They are developing their offering and attracting passengers. Peach has been in business for seven years and is one of the few airlines that has been consistently profitable in Asia.

But while it may appear as if low cost and full-service airlines are fated to “meet in the middle”, homogeneity is in fact unlikely.

“There has to be differentiation. If you want to succeed in business, you have to differentiate in terms of your quality or your services or what you’re offering,” he said.

In what Hoban refers to as today’s “platform economy”, which is leaving businesses in all sectors grappling with the effects of the rise of businesses such as Uber and Amazon, which can deliver products and services with precision, how feasible is it for airlines to have a vision “of becoming the Amazon of travel?” she asked.

“The principle of doing that is absolutely right but the ability of becoming an Amazon is very doubtful because of the range and scope of what is involved,” he said.

That said, what is open to every carrier, whether low cost or full service, is the ability to offer “the complete package, including the transport to the airport from downtown, the changed bookings, the advertising, the promotion of other services, the hotel,” he said.

The days of consumers going to their airline website to book and then heading off to another site to book their hotel are now coming to an end.

While the likes of Google and Amazon are competitors coming at airline passengers with a comprehensive range of services, the airlines in fact still have a golden opportunity, “because you have the customer, you’re in direct contact with them, they are your customers,” said Murphy.

Opportunities for travel tech start-ups in Asia and beyond

He is optimistic about the opportunities currently open to travel technology companies. Even Google can’t move into travel by itself, he points out, it will need acquisitions to do so.

He advised travel tech companies keen to enter the Asian market to liaise with Enterprise Ireland, both for key introductions and for access to its extensive market research.

The market opportunities are enormous. Taking China as an example, whereas people previously traveled just once a year to visit parents, today they fly for holidays, parties and events. “It’s like the old days when the only reason Irish people traveled on ferries was price. Lower the price of air travel and they’d fly, and that’s exactly what happened,” said Murphy.

All airlines have begun driving non-ticket revenue growth, but are still only at the tip of the iceberg, he reckons. This too creates an opportunity for travel tech companies.

“We’re dependent on technology companies to help us provide all the personalization, the retailing platform, the integration with passenger booking systems, and all that essentially needs to be pulled together,” he said.

Airlines, which have traditionally been characterized by silos, will need help doing that so that the data can be comprehensively brought together. By their nature, airlines are not good at retailing either, he said, which creates further opportunities for travel tech.

Those airlines that don’t innovate “are out of the game,” he said.

“We are going to see more and more consolidation. So the prospects are good for everyone who is profitable and can continue to grow profitably. But anyone who slips up, slows down or doesn’t put the investment in – they’ll be out and there’ll be more for the rest. I’m confident the big low-cost airlines will be the survivors but the traditional FSAs still need to adapt and change to the competitive environment.”

Certiport and Prodigy Learning launch Coding in Minecraft, a new computer science curriculum and credentials  

Prodigy Learning and Certiport, a Pearson VUE business, recently announced the worldwide launch of Coding in Minecraft at the Certiport Global Partner Summit at the New York City Marriott Marquis.

Prodigy Learning (Prodigy), is a multi-award winning global edtech business providing digital skills certifications and learning solutions for Adobe, Autodesk, Microsoft, and other technologies. These IT certifications deliver job-ready skills, improving employability for students and productivity for employees.

Developed by Prodigy Learning, Coding in Minecraft is a new computer science curriculum, skills assessment, and credential program delivered through Minecraft: Education Edition with assessments hosted on Microsoft’s Azure cloud computing platform.  According to Microsoft, Minecraft is the best-selling video game of all time and 51% of U.S. children age 9 to 11 play the game.

The program provides teachers with a revolutionary end-to-end teaching and assessment solution for their students to develop and prove skills in coding. Certiport will distribute Coding in Minecraft initially in the United States and then through the 12,000 Certiport Authorized Testing Centers worldwide.

Prodigy Learning developed Coding in Minecraft to engage school children from age 9 to 16 in computer science through game-based learning. With Coding in Minecraft, children are introduced to coding through an immersive, collaborative and creative learning environment that opens opportunities to fulfilling careers in technology. By earning evidence-based credentials, students are prepared for industry-recognized certification programs such as Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA).

Coding in Minecraft was launched in the United Kingdom in June 2018 and has been piloted among 114 schools, 200 teachers and 4,000 students in the U.K. and U.S. over the past 12 months.

Engaging students in computer science from an early age is a growing challenge worldwide. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a major shortage of computer science graduates for the 1.4 million computer science jobs that will be available by 2020, with less than a third of these jobs likely to be filled by qualified graduates. A 2018 Microsoft/YouGov survey of K-12 teachers in the United States found that 2 out of every 10 teachers said their students were not taught computer science at all, with the lack of a supporting computer science curriculum being one of the primary reasons given.

“Our vision for Coding in Minecraft is to break down the barriers for students and teachers to increase uptake of computer science in schools,” said Andrew Flood, CEO of Prodigy Learning. “By immersing the curriculum and assessment in Minecraft: Education Edition, we capture the imagination of young learners through one of the most popular games in the world and support them to learn to code, design, and problem solve. The program is designed to be delivered in a teacher-facilitated model, making it easy for teachers of all abilities to deliver computer science in their school.”

The Coding in Minecraft program is comprised of three courses that include a curriculum, Minecraft World, assessments, and evidence-based micro-credentials to position students to continue their path to a rewarding computer science education and industry certifications.  The first two courses use block-based coding in MakeCode and progress learners to the third course using text-based coding in JavaScript with courses in additional popular coding technologies in development.

The curriculum has been aligned with teaching and computer science standards in the U.S. (Computer Science Teachers Association-CSTA) and the U.K. (Ofqual).

“We are pleased to be working with Prodigy Learning to support the Coding in Minecraft credentials as a precursor to additional computer science study and certification programs,” said Ray Murray, Vice President and General Manager – IT, Pearson VUE. “By exposing children to coding at a young age, educators can increase the number who love computer science and encourage them to continue on to earn more advanced coding certifications such as Unity, Microsoft Technology Associate, App Development with Swift from Apple and more.”

Commenting on their experiences in using Coding in Minecraft, Nicole Roche, a teacher from the Davis School District in Utah who piloted the program, said: “Prodigy has created an amazing and engaging way to learn coding through Minecraft. The students are engaged and eager to use a platform familiar to them. With Prodigy’s easy to use curriculum and their provided worlds, the students can explore with the teacher or at their own pace.”

The product is already inspiring students to learn computer science. Martyn Silizen, a Strategy Officer from Rhondda Cynon Taf Education Authority in Wales where the first students worldwide achieved their skills credentials through Coding in Minecraft, commented: “97% of students who have completed a Coding in Minecraft credential expressed an interest in going on to study computer science at a higher level as their next step on their learning journey.”

Commenting, Julie Sinnamon, CEO, Enterprise Ireland said: “It can be an immense challenge for any company to achieve growth in the digital software sector, particularly given the demand for skills and expertise in this area. The growth that has been reached by award-winning, Irish EdTech business, Prodigy, will ultimately deliver skills to a whole new generation and improve both their future employability and productivity.

“Software, computing and games development are essential elements of Ireland’s digital and creative economy. Our ambition is to support similar companies in this sector to expand their global footprint by connecting them to some of the world’s best markets. We are excited about Prodigy’s growth to date and look forward to seeing what is next to come for this company,” Ms. Sinnamon added.

Coding in Minecraft is hosted on the GMetrix platform which leverages the power of Microsoft Azure.  The GMetrix platform makes it easy for educators to manage student progress, provide formative feedback and award the credential upon successful completion of all assessment objectives.

For access to a free demo and to learn more about Coding in Minecraft visit: www.codingcredentials.com

Ireland may not be the center of the universe but when it comes to travel tech, it should be.

As an island nation, travel – and travel technology in all its forms – has always been of vital importance to Ireland. It’s why St. Brendan pipped Christopher Columbus in voyaging to America by a mere 900 years.

Being an island on Europe’s western periphery ensured Ireland played a central role in the history of aviation too. Iconic aviators from Alcock and Brown to Charles Lindbergh all made a beeline for these shores.

Antrim’s Lilian Bland was the world’s first female aviation engineer and when the Atlantic was first crossed from east to west in 1928, an Irishman, James Fitzmaurice, was on board. For a time, the modest Limerick port of Foynes, still famous for its flying boats, was the actual epicenter of commercial aviation.

Ireland’s journey to becoming one of the world’s great travel tech hubs

This aviation heritage helped inspire further successes, from creating the modern duty-free shopping concept to developing aircraft leasing as a standalone business. Today, well over 50% of the world’s leased commercial airlines are managed from Ireland.

“It’s why, if you look around at the key figures who dominate air travel, you’ll see people such as Michael O’Leary of Ryanair, Alan Joyce at Qantas, and Willie Walsh at IAG,” says John Magill, senior development advisor with Enterprise Ireland, the trade and innovation agency.

Certainly, as a country with a widespread diaspora, the Irish are well used to traveling. And as the land of the “Hundred Thousand Welcomes”, it is renowned for its hospitality too.

All of this helps explain why Ireland is today one of the world’s great travel tech hubs.

Meet Ireland’s travel tech innovators

In recent years, it has given rise to world-beating innovators, such as Hostelworld, the world’s leading hostel-focused online booking platform.

It has helped spawn CarTrawler too, the world’s leading B2B travel technology platform providing transport solutions to almost one billion passengers annually, and Roomex, a leading hotel booking platform for business travel.

“We have a cohort of people who love this industry and who have a passion for it,” explains Magill.

It’s why Ireland is home to one of the most active Travel Massive chapters in the world, he reckons. Travel Massive is the community for travel industry founders, leaders, and creators. “In Ireland, it’s all about getting people to events so that they can help each other out.”

This collegiate spirit is very strong across all of Ireland’s start-up ecosystem, but particularly so in travel tech, he says.

Ireland’s traditional strength in ICT feeds into travel technology too. “When you tell the world you are writing your software in Ireland, nobody blinks. For the last 40 years we have been the second-largest exporter of software in the world,” he says.

The fact that artificial intelligence is increasingly driving the travel industry plays to Ireland’s strengths, giving rise to a new crop of high flyers.

These include companies such as Boxever, developer of a personalization platform that uses data and AI to make customer interactions smarter. It works with airlines around the world, including Ryanair, Viva Air Group, and Hong Kong Express.

Specialist room revenue agency Revanista provides AI-supported yield optimization and channel management to hoteliers.

Planitas provides leading airlines with total flight revenue optimization software, while Arvoia’s AI technology is used by travel companies to deliver a personalized booking experience to customers.

Datalex is a leading provider of e-commerce and retail software solutions to major airlines such as Delta, JetBlue, and Virgin Atlantic, while Aerospace Software Developments (ASD) develops applications based on RFID identity chip technology for the aviation and aerospace sectors.

“From engineering and technology right through to innovative tour operators such as Topflight, who have expanded into new markets such as UK school tours, travel is something we are really good at,” says Magill.

Global reach of Irish travel tech companies

The fact that major travel tech companies such as Airbnb, Google, Lonely Planet and Trip Advisor all have their European hubs, and in many cases EMEA HQs, in Ireland also feeds into its unique travel tech ecosystem, points out Máire P. Walsh, SVP Digital Technologies at Enterprise Ireland.

Irish travel tech companies have global reach too. CarTrawler is working with Alaska Airlines, Datalex with Air China, and Likewhere, which provides travelers with a personalized content experience, is working with the Hilton Hotels group.

Flightman, whose software syncs data exchange between aircraft and airline ground systems, is working with Delta Air LinesCoras is revolutionizing the way event tickets are sold online.

Campsite booking specialist Campsited has secured funding from Motley Fool Ventures, a clear sign that “major US venture players are interested in Irish capability,” she says.

“In essence, Irish travel tech companies have core technologies to empower stakeholders to transform the customer journey, drive operational efficiencies, and unlock greater profitability through dynamic pricing, ancillary revenues, and personalization,” says Walsh.

“Ireland is a travel tech hub with very many leading companies in the market – across ancillary revenues, dynamic pricing and booking technology – taking you along the entire customer journey, from pre-ticket booking to post-trip.”

Máire P. Walsh, SVP Digital Technologies, Enterprise Ireland

Máire P. Walsh, SVP Digital Technologies, Enterprise Ireland

Ireland’s travel heritage enables it to see clearly the problems travel companies have, while its tech heritage helps it to develop innovative solutions.

“It’s not just transforming the customer journey but driving operational efficiencies and building new revenue streams – brand new opportunities are opening up that really have an impact on the bottom line,” says Walsh.

The advent of Online Travel Agents (OTAs) has long since shaken up the travel industry, disintermediating the traditional connection between providers and customers.

The right travel tech can bridge this gap. “The travel industry has realized that the most important part of their business is their customer. They recognize the need to own the customer journey. To do that they have to make sure that the journey is seamless, that they are able to meet customers across every device, in their own time zones, reaching out to them at the right time, with the right offer,” says Walsh.

Irish travel tech companies are helping them do just that. “Airlines have figured out the value of ancillary revenues but hotels and cruise ships have not. There is now a massive opportunity for them to do so, and to further extend that relationship so that the customer doesn’t have to go to loads of different places to get things done.”

Irish travel tech companies already have a wealth of experience in the core areas “where there is an urgency for revenues”, she says.

Enterprise Ireland can connect you with these market leaders and the advanced technologies they have developed that are driving profitability across the travel industry.”

For travel tech, Ireland is the premier destination. Learn more.

Sustainable finance requires sustainable solutions. Read how Irish fintechs are delivering them.

Sustainable finance covers everything from environmental issues and climate change, to anti-money laundering (AML) and cyber protection measures. It is an increasingly critical agenda item for institutional investors, asset managers, banks, and the insurance sector.

Ireland’s innovative fintech start-ups are playing their part, helping to ensure the world benefits from sustainable finance.

Ireland’s Year of Sustainable Finance

Fittingly, 2019 is Ireland’s Year of Sustainable Finance. This has seen a rolling series of domestic and international events taking place, highlighting and developing Ireland’s growth as a global center of excellence in sustainable finance.

Ireland’s Financial Services Minister Michael D’Arcy has made sustainable finance a key theme in the Irish government’s IFS 2020 Strategy action plan for 2019.

Its objectives include the development of a national roadmap to support the continued growth of sustainable finance activities in Ireland, organizing Climate Finance Week in November and exploring the development of a sustainable finance innovation program of activities, including in the area of green fintech.

Ireland is increasingly seen as a center of excellence in the area of sustainable finance, with regard to the huge sums of capital required to finance projects to tackle climate change in Ireland and globally.

But sustainable finance isn’t only about environmental issues. It is also about ensuring financial services companies engage in good corporate governance, ensure regulatory compliance, safeguard cybersecurity and customer privacy and mitigate fraud.

This is a space in which Irish fintech innovators are particularly proactive, creating innovative and robust new tools for Know Your Customer and AML.

Green fintechs leading from Ireland

Irish company Sedicii’s AML monitoring solution enables banks to collaborate without sharing data, helping to reduce false positives and identify risks in real-time, as well as enabling real-time digital customer onboarding.

Banks can also verify customers in minutes with Sedicii’s fully compliant consent-driven KYC solution.

Daon is a leader in biometric authentication and identity assurance solutions worldwide. It has pioneered methods for securely and conveniently combining biometric and identity capabilities across multiple channels.

Daon has activated large-scale deployments spanning payments verification, digital banking and wealth management for financial services customers that include BNP Paribas Wealth Management in Luxembourg.

Irish fintech giant Fexco has developed ENCASH (Electronic Network Cash Tellers), the world’s first-ever mobile cash withdrawal solution. It has been launched in the Philippines, a country in which more than 95% of all transactions are completed in cash and yet is poorly served by ATMs.

Fexco EasyDebit is a unique service that uses a mobile Point of Sale (or mPOS pin entry device) and a mobile phone to allow customers to withdraw cash using their ATM card at any number of local accredited merchants including payment and remittance centers, retailers, rural banks and cooperatives, instead of needing to travel to an ATM.

PiP iT, a fintech start-up, has developed a unique B2B platform that powers international cash transactions so that its partners and their customers can accept cash for cross-border bill payments, load cash onto eWallets, accept cash for e-commerce orders and lodge cash into bank accounts across borders.

PiP iT’s platform clients use it to generate and issue bills or vouchers to their customers, who receive them on their mobile phone – or can print them out – and then take them to PiP iT collection agents worldwide, such as retailers and post offices, to make their payments. These are then settled to PiP iT, and on to the client’s bank.

Payments are made offline, so there are fewer security risks. It is designed to be easy to use, operating via the sending of a barcode. But crucially, the end-user doesn’t need banks or cards to make payments. This makes it of particular value in those parts of the world where significant numbers of people remain unbanked.

Irish start-up AID: Tech uses a combination of blockchain, artificial intelligence, and machine learning to create a decentralized digital identity platform, which empowers people to manage their own data securely and privately.

It was the first company in the world to deliver international aid using blockchain technology, when it did so for Syrian refugees in Lebanon, on behalf of the Irish Red Cross.

Today it brings transparency to the distribution of aid, welfare, remittances, and donations around the world, and has been nominated as one of Europe’s 100 Digital Champions by the Financial Times.

Priviti helps companies to manage individuals’ consent for data sharing and transactions, to reduce data privacy and regulatory compliance risk.

It ensures organizations have a regulatory compliant audit trail with irrefutable evidence that their customer had provided explicit consent when sharing customer data. It also ensures customers have full control over which private information is to be shared with whom, while Priviti never sees, stores or monetizes customer identifiable data.

Award-winning start-up DX Compliance Solutions offers artificially intelligent, efficiency-enhancing software solutions for AML, anti-financial crime and anti-terrorist financing compliance and has customers that include banks, fintechs, and insurance companies.

These, like so many other Irish fintechs, are creating sustainable solutions that help to power sustainable finance worldwide.

By Brendan Kelly, Market Executive, Enterprise Ireland, New York

The recent growth of the education technology industry has been sensational. Last year, we saw the U.S. market peak with venture capital and private equity firms investing close to $1.5 billion into start-ups. This trend has been steadily increasing for close to 10 years. Primarily, the evolution of EdTech is driven by the demand of a new generation of users who want their education experience to harmonize with their digital connectedness, and insist that their learning must be easier and more accessible. Entrepreneurs and investors are looking to meet this demand.

While EdTech investment interest is up, there are some issues which we see slowing industry progress. One is a lack of end-user resources. Users want to try new technologies but don’t always have the time to explore, or may not have access to the necessary equipment.

There is also significant resistance to change. EdTech is radically changing the way people learn, and many within the industry mistakenly see this as a threat to traditional forms of learning. And finally, privacy issues are of great importance when collecting and using learner data. Companies must invest significant resources in managing this data responsibly and in meeting global privacy, regulatory requirements.

The global importance of EdTech

EdTech is revolutionizing learning! It’s making teaching and learning better, and therefore it’s helping to shape the workforce of tomorrow. To understand this, take a look at the most significant trends in employment. More and more, organizations require people with digital skills. These skills change rapidly, but it’s not feasible to have people repeatedly return to full-time study. Instead, EdTech provides a solution. EdTech can help people keep their digital skills up to date as required.

Technology can take each learner’s identity into account and teach them the way that is most effective for them. For example, if I require visual cues to learn, then perhaps an augmented or virtual reality approach will become an option to help me grasp concepts more readily.

Data and learning analytics are also becoming increasingly more prevalent. It’s now possible to track things like the users’ learning engagement. We will be better able to monitor what users find effective in their learning experience, and what they don’t. AI will then be able to customize the learning experience for each user – making it the most efficient teacher possible.

Unique successes

It’s interesting to see that Irish companies have done very well to get past these obstacles. They are able to partner up with their users and understand how users learn and the resources that are available to them and tailor their products to fit. Irish companies have a strong ability for figuring out what their users genuinely need.

And when we talk about users not having the time or resources to learn new technology, Irish tech companies understand that they make it easy for the user. LearnUpon, for example, is one of the LMS industry’s most disruptive players. LearnUpon‘s robust platform is designed to make managing training efficient and effective, so it adds real value to businesses. The team focuses on building a modern, user-friendly platform for its customers and their learners. Quick to implement and easy-to-use, with this platform, organizations can create a learning portal in minutes and can start training immediately.

Irish companies bring world-class innovation to the table. Our companies have fantastic and diverse offerings across K-12, higher education, and corporate learning. In the K-12 space, we have companies like Soapbox Labs, who have created speech recognition technology for children using state-of-the-art, deep neural network machine learning.

In Higher education, Immersive VR Education is a VR software company dedicated to creating quality educational experiences for all students. Since they opened their doors in 2014, the company has moved in leaps and bounds, releasing a range of educational experiences, and has won several international awards for their software.

In corporate learning, every year, Interactive Services rolls out compliance learning to over 3 million corporate learners across 120 countries in more than 40 languages. They are working with companies such as American Express, Goldman Sachs, Oracle, and Facebook.

Unmistakenly Irish

The EdTech sector is heavily research-driven, as it should be. Irish companies place significant emphasis on research – this is one of the reasons Irish subject matter experts are consistently rated as some of the most innovative in the world.

Ireland supports 12 national research centers, and we are the leading country in Europe for getting economic value out of the research. EdTech is strong in this area, as we see many of our clients working alongside universities and other higher education institutes to align their offering with scientific research. Many of our companies have even gone as far as efficacy studies to verify the value of their product. This dedication to partnering with research and science-driven organizations has made a significant difference in these companies.

And finally, Irish EdTech companies have a reputation for attracting extraordinarily bright and well-educated employees, and when you look at some of the products they create, it shows. They are companies that are solving some of the world’s most pressing problems. They are coming up with ways to educate every type of learner – from those with special needs to those who learn through sound, or visuals. Irish EdTech companies listen to the market to find out what problems learners need to be solved to succeed.

Solgari, the global Microsoft ISV and provider of the Dynamics 365 All-Channel Solution recently announced, at Microsoft Inspire, the release of Converse as the customer and agent UI.

Solgari is the enterprise solution for organizations with demanding, multi-channel needs, who are looking to increase efficiency and effectiveness, meet all related compliance requirements, and to delight customers. Their solution has made a global impact being used in over 40 countries to-date, serving customers across financial services, fintech, retail, e-commerce and many more, all on a per user per month SaaS model.

As a global Microsoft ISV, Solgari works with the leading D365 Microsoft partners in Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, India, UK, Germany, Scandinavia, Canada, and the US, who are building transformative cloud solutions on Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform for their customers.

Their new solution, Converse, is an innovative, browser-based solution that utilizes Solgari’s cutting edge artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to empower conversations in the browser, delivering a consistent experience across all channels – audio, video, chat, SMS and more.

Solgari’s combination of AI and ML delivers smoother conversations between agents and customers through a “Know Me” and “Support Me” principle, with all communications delivered seamlessly within Dynamics 365 via Microsoft’s Channel Integration Framework.

To celebrate this release, ­­Solgari is offering a free two-week trial for Dynamics 365 users so they can see the end-to-end solution in action. The solution is also available on Microsoft AppSource using the Channel Integration Framework – Microsoft AppSource: Solgari – the Dynamics 365 All-Channel Solution

“Converse is the future of communications. We’re moving away from the concept of having individual and separate channels,” noted Vance Harris, CTO, Solgari. “Converse empowers true, seamless conversation, all inside the browser. The combination of our features and functionality, with AI and ML, means that customers can enjoy richer conversations, however, and wherever they choose.”

Raz Dynamics, MVP, and head of the Microsoft Dynamics Community added, Solgari delivers an impressive all-channel communications solution. We’re really excited about what this can do for Dynamics 365 users.”

To view the Customer Journey in action please click here.

According to senior technologists from American Airlines, who flew to Dublin recently to meet representatives from Ireland’s fast-growing cluster of travel technology companies, there are two issues that currently preoccupy airlines: How to get passengers to the airport more efficiently, and how to generate new revenue opportunities when they arrive.

Spencer Kaiser, principal architect for emerging technology at American Airlines, and Kyle Lloyd, the innovation manager for the airline, addressed an event co-organized by Enterprise Ireland, the trade and innovation agency, in conjunction with the Dublin chapter of Travel Massive.

How to sell into the world’s largest airline

The purpose of the event was not just to showcase the breadth of global travel technology companies in Ireland, but to provide insights to travel tech start-ups about how to sell more effectively into one of the world’s best-known airlines. American Airlines is the world’s largest airline by any metric—fleet size, revenue, passengers, kilometers flown, and destinations served.

Ireland is an established hub for travel technology across a range of subsectors. Established players include companies like Datalex, a leading provider of eCommerce and retail software solutions to airlines such as Aer LingusDeltaJetBlue, and Virgin Atlantic.

Hostelworld is the world’s leading hostel-focused booking platform, with 30,000 in 180 countries. Personalization platform Boxever uses data and artificial intelligence to help companies such as Ryanair and Viva Air Group to make smarter customer interactions. Specialist room revenue agency Revanista provides solutions to hoteliers across Ireland and the UK.

Currently, more than 3,500 people are employed in the sector, creating a talent pool that has attracted more than 100 travel technology companies to base their operations in Ireland. In addition, Ireland is also the world leader in aviation finance.

How American Airlines tackles innovation

It’s an innovative environment that should prove attractive to American Airlines, famous for supporting innovation internally through initiatives such as its annual hackathon. Some 1,000 of the airline’s designers, developers, and IT experts travel to Austin, Texas for a 24-hour event where they are charged with ‘forming, storming and norming’ new apps of benefit to both customers and staff.

But the airline is also open to working with new technologies coming from outside the company. In all cases, the innovation team has a simple rule: “Save money or make money. Anything with those as its big focus will have eyes on their idea,” said Lloyd.

Currently, some of the most interesting applications the airline is looking at are aimed not necessarily at the travel space but in analogous industries, they said. Those pitching solutions, however, will find it’s not just their technology that will be evaluated, but themselves, including the strength of their business and their experience in what they are building, delegates heard.

The team, their depth of industry knowledge, and whether they are driving development themselves or outsourcing are all key considerations. Critical, too, is an assessment of whether or not they have the financial runway to stay the pace. Deal cycles with the airline are famously long.

“Have they raised enough money to cope? It can take a very long time, so really it’s about evaluating the companies as much as evaluating the technologies,” said Lloyd.

The speed and efficiency with which American Airlines is engaging with companies is improving. The airline currently has 20 internal teams with the word ‘innovation’ in their title and is developing its own innovation practice. Part of this is around ensuring greater understanding internally of the power of core, adjacent and transformative innovation, said Lloyd.

How to deal with an airline as a start-up

Helping the airline’s innovation shows what the world looks like to a start-up, something which many of them have no experience of, is helping too. Dealing with any airline means working with numerous stakeholders. To make it easier for the airline you are selling into, provide structure around what you are building and providing, make it easier to work with you by providing a contact, facilitate the process by being accessible.

“And above all, be patient,” said Kaiser. “If the airline is not ready, don’t push it. Give the process time, otherwise, it will not end well.”

Make sure you really understand the process and all the stakeholders involved. Understand that American Airlines has 140,000 people across the business. Accept the fact that there are many stakeholders, and tons of different people will be involved in what you are doing. Be patient, trust the process. For certain, do not attempt to bypass the system by going around a stakeholder who has already agreed to champion you.

The airline will work with certain start-up accelerators in strategic areas, including Dublin and Toronto, said Lloyd. The appeal of these regions is that they offer a model wherein the government, through working with Enterprise Ireland, academia and the corporate sector all work closely with start-ups to help them succeed.

Opportunities for travel tech in the airline sector

Meeting attendees learned that the commercial opportunities for travel technology in the airline sector are enormous, with the fact that unaccompanied teenagers must still walk around with lanyards around their neck being a simple case in point.

“We’re far behind as an industry with the whole digital experience,” said Kaiser. “Digitizing processes will not just boost efficiencies, but potentially drive new revenue opportunities for airlines too, including in the provision of new services.”

Airlines are particularly keen to cover the complete travel journey, from the home to the airport and on arrival, “what they do when they get there,” said Kaiser.

All along the way opportunities exist where current procedures remain paper-based, or where infrastructure needs digitizing, such as cameras at gates. Whether it is through providing computer vision or tracking events, or anything from logistics, to data, to efficiencies in terms of how aircraft—and component parts—are moved, are all areas of opportunity right now.

Customer experience is another area the American Airline’s innovation team is giving its attention to, including apps that can provide passengers with information about their flight and directions to their gate as soon as they arrive at the airport.

“Basically, anything that focuses on making the details of the user experience more pleasant—before, and during, booking, before and during check-in, and while in the air,” said Lloyd. “WiFi service, which would allow customers to browse and allow the airline to make a little extra money too, is definitely something we are looking into.”

Future trends in travel tech

In terms of wider future trends, the rise of megacities will be a major factor driving future innovation. Simply getting to the airport is already becoming increasingly challenging. Airlines will be looking for solutions to make the trip to the airport faster.

“That’s definitely an area we are looking into and which is quite urgent,” said Lloyd, pointing out that, perhaps surprisingly, one of the newest competitors on the Austin-to-Dallas route is a plush bus service. “It’s eating into our market share. Getting people to your gate is an area we’ll see the biggest changes in.”

From a technical perspective, it’s all about IoT, biometrics screening and increasingly contextual data, explained Kaiser. “Passengers will see more of the right data being presented at the right time. User preferences will get better and provide more of the information travelers want, when they want it.”

Contemporary data centers require enhanced design and build standards compared to traditional centers.

The first data centers were developed in the 1960s and elements of their basic design are still evident in centers today. But in order for a data center to return investment, design, and build must now meet a growing list of requirements to achieve increasingly higher standards.Data centre investment in Ireland to reach €10bn by 2022

The reasons given for centers in Enterprise Ireland’s white paper, The Future Data Center, indicate that there is no single reason for investment but a range of possible drivers, such as the need to increase IT capacity, to reduce operating costs, to improve security, or simply to replace an old data center.

These varied investment drivers mean the process of design and construction must be smarter. Key changes to the process include:

  • Standards and legislative requirements
  • Technologies now available to facilitate key data center functions
  • The exemplar provided by global cloud and colocation providers
  • The radically changing decision making and procurement processes.

Standards and legislative requirements

As with any design and construction project, the process of designing and building a data center must conform to local legislative requirements in terms of land use and planning permits, utility access and provisioning, environmental considerations, building codes as well as health, safety, and labor laws.

However, there are further requirements, some mandatory and some voluntary, when designing and building a data center. These may include legislation designed to reduce energy consumption or wastage, industry standards to evaluate the levels of redundancy for which the data center is designed and at which it is operated (such as TIA-942, the Uptime Institute Classification System and CENELEC EN 50600).

The evolution of data centers that house data from across a wide geographic region, as well as increasing concern about the privacy implications of data traffic, has led to a raft of agreements and legislation to shore up data privacy and sovereignty practices. Further standards apply to the security of data, both physical and cyber.

Hot technology innovation

As server densities rise, the amount of heat generated is also increasing. New processors generate more than five times the heat of older processors, and new servers and switches could generate up to ten times the heat per square foot as those from ten years ago. More recently, data centers have started to explore a number of new cooling technologies and architectures to add further efficiency and cope with increasing rack densities.

These include the introduction of vertical exhaust ducts, heat wheels, various close-coupled cooling approaches as well as chipset and server-based solutions, such as processors that generate less heat, increasing the highest temperature at which they work reliably, improved heat transfer through changing the layout of components within the chassis, and developing solutions that immerse components in coolant.

Cloud providers

The one set of facilities that stand to gain the most from adopting the technological innovations of major cloud players are also those that may be most threatened by the continuing growth of such cloud players.

These are colocation providers, whose enterprise client base has migrated into the cloud and who may only be partially able to redress the loss of that revenue stream through attracting cloud and managed service providers. They have needed to evolve a business model based on connectivity inside and outside the facility and an interlinked ecosystem with internal communities and dense, modular, converged systems to meet the need for variable and scalable loads.

While information on the practices of these organizations is hard to come by, some do share information on their design and build practices. In 2011, Facebook launched its Open Compute project. The project was initially intended to share information on hardware performance, to increase data center efficiency and sustainability and the desire to ‘demystify’ data centers. This process has continued and expanded since, among global hyper-scale companies.

Decision-making and procurement processes

The process of decision-making and procurement for data center build has become more thorough and more accountable as data centers become more mission-critical and, therefore, more risk-averse. One consequence is that procurement has become more formalized, less reliant on an open tender and more involved, down to items of lower value.

The people involved in decision-making have also changed. Broadly, involvement in decisions now reaches far more widely across an organization, is based on skill set and capability, and will include external specialists within specially constituted project teams.

Partly as a result of the increased capabilities offered by major global suppliers, there is a trend towards a single provider of facility components, including enclosures, power distribution, and protection, cooling, cabling, and monitoring, rather than relying on different specialist providers.

In terms of design and build, most projects researched changed some of their design parameters as they progressed, normally as the result of different areas of expertise being introduced. This means that flexibility needs to be built into the process, usually around key ‘milestone’ decision points at which new contracts will be tendered or agreed.

The future of data centers?

The centers will follow some projected overall construction sector trends but not all of them. A key difference between many construction projects and the data center is the balance between the ‘upfront’ costs of construction and subsequent operational costs.

While there is no such thing as an average data center or an average commercial construction, the very high operating costs of the data center mean that the construction sector will need to focus on ‘whole of life’ not just the initial construction costs.