Minister Bruton launches €88 million SFI data analytics research centre

Insight, a new research centre for data analytics run by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI ), has been officially announced by the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise, and Innovation Richard Bruton and the Minister for Research and Innovation Sean Sherlock.

In a joint initiative by NUI Galway, UCC, DCU, and UCD, Insight and other similar centres will bring together more than 200 researchers from these and other higher education institutions, with 30 industry partners, to position Ireland at the heart of global data analytics research.

The centre will receive funding of €58 million from the Department of Jobs, Enterprise, and Innovation through SFI’s Research Centres Programme, along with a further contribution of €30 million from 30 industry partners. Insight represents a new approach to research and development in Ireland, by connecting the scientific research of Ireland’s leading data analytics researchers with the needs of industry and enterprise. This is the largest investment in a single research centre in the history of the State.

Insight will work with more than 30 industry partners, ranging from small Irish startups to established SMEs and large multinationals, on a range of projects to advance data analytics technologies in Ireland. Industry partners include RTÉ, The Irish Times, Cisco, Microsoft, Alcatel-Lucent, Santry Sports Clinic, the IRFU, Avaya, TE Labs, TreeMetrics, NitroSell, Avego, UTRC, and Shimmer.

Big data is a sector targeted as part of the Disruptive Reforms in Action Plan for Jobs 2013, and the announcement marks delivery of a key action contained in the plan.

Speaking at the launch of Insight, Richard Bruton said: “Big data is a sector growing globally at 40 per cent per annum, where Ireland has the potential to gain competitive advantage and attract significant numbers of investments and jobs, and we are putting in place measures to ensure that we can deliver on that potential. The establishment of this world-class SFI research centre in data analytics, with a total investment of €88 million supported by my Department, is a strong signal of our ambition in this area. Today’s announcement, in combination with the other measures we have put in place in this sector, will help attract the investment, support the business ideas, and create the jobs in Ireland that we need.”

Also speaking at the launch, Sean Sherlock said: “The launch of Insight is an important step forward in the development of the skills base necessary for Ireland to harness and channel the current and future potential of Big Data. Insight is a major national investment in this new area of research and one that is essential for Ireland’s future success in the technology sector.”

In today’s society, an increasing torrent of data is being created every second in the world around us. Insight will play a leading role in developing next generation technologies to capture and transform the raw data being generated into valuable concepts and ideas that can inform better decisions about society, the economy, healthcare and government.

Insight will lead to the creation of 300 direct jobs, as well as to the training of the next generation of data analytics experts. Over the next six years, Insight research is expected to result in 12 new spin out companies, approximately 50 patent filings, and more than 50 technology licences, leading to thousands of indirect jobs in the data analytics sector. The global market for business analytics is estimated to be worth in excess of $34 billion, with Big Data driving a 60 per cent increase in the operating margins of retailers, while the annual value of data analytics for the US healthcare system is valued at $300 billion.

Commenting on the potential for the data analytics market in Ireland, CEO of Insight, Professor Barry Smyth, said: “Data analytics represents a huge growth opportunity for Ireland and we are perfectly positioned to take advantage of it. Spending on Big Data technologies is growing at 30 per cent per annum as demand for data analytics skills continues to outstrip supply. In Insight we have brought together the country’s leading data analytics researchers to meet this demand and create new opportunities for Ireland and our industry partners.”

Speaking at the announcement, director general of SFI and chief scientific adviser to the Government Professor Mark Ferguson said: “Insight will provide Ireland with a new flagship national research resource in information and communications technology (ICT ) and underlines Ireland’s focused investment in excellent research with impact. Insight is one of seven world-class SFI research centres of scale and excellence that involve significant co-investment by industry partners.”

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