2020 - 2029

Honorary Citation by Dr William Scanlon for Dr Eoin O'Driscoll

14 Apr 2022

"Good morning.

Eoin O’Driscoll is a chartered engineer, a fellow of Engineers Ireland and a fellow and past president of the Irish Academy of Engineers. However, his engineering journey started back when he graduated from UCC with a 1st class honours degree in engineering in 1973 and he gained his masters of engineering science by research in 1975. Eoin’s masters thesis was concerned with computer simulation of electrical drives, at a time when the first PCs had yet to emerge and the year before Jobs and Wozniak appeared at the homebrew computer club in California.

This tells us that Eoin’s talent and indeed drive for innovation was present even during his years as a student and has been a constant throughout his distinguished career. I also understand that Eoin’s wife Margaret, then his girlfriend, was present at his bachelors graduation in the Aula Maxima and it is therefore fitting that she joins us today for this honorary conferring. Margaret and Eoin have three children and four grandchildren, and also here today is their daughter Eimear, who like her brothers Niall and Brendan is also involved in the world of technology. 

Eoin spent his early career with major ICT multinationals in Ireland and the US. He worked for Nortel after graduation and in 1981 he became the managing director of Wang Ireland, progressing to Vice President International of Wang Laboratories in the US in 1984. In 1986 he became the co-founder and joint CEO of Etos International, supplier to the computer industry with operations in the US, Europe and Asia. He then became Vice President of Stratus Computer that was eventually acquired by Lucent in 2000 when he became Senior Vice President of Lucent Technologies / Bell Labs. At that time Lucent Technologies was the world’s largest telecommunications equipment company. 

This breadth and depth of experience in the global ICT industry enabled Eoin to then turn his hand to focusing on the development of the Irish indigenous sector and on Ireland’s enterprise, innovation and science policy. 

Eoin has served on a number of national bodies including as Chairman of Forfas, Ireland’s national policy and advisory board for enterprise, trade, science, technology and innovation; as President of the American Chamber of Commerce in Ireland; as a Board member of the Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience; as Chairman of the Governance Committee of Lero, the Science Foundation Ireland Software Engineering Research Centre. 

Eoin participated in the Technology Foresight exercise that led to setting up of Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) and he served on the inaugural Board. He was chair of the SFI ICT Panel and, along with Frank Gannon the chair of the bio panel, he established the main structures and processes that enable SFI to deliver on their mission to support and develop excellent science and engineering research in Ireland. 

In 2004 Eoin chaired the Enterprise Strategy Review Group at the request of the Minister for Enterprise Trade and Employment. The review group published a strategic plan for enterprise in Ireland entitled - ‘Ahead of the Curve – Ireland’s place in the global economy’.

In addition to being on the board of a number of early stage start-ups, Eoin has served as Chairman of the SWS Group, Chairman of e|net and Chairman of Shenick Network Systems. He was a Governor of the Irish Times Trust and a Director of the Irish Times Ltd. He is currently a Director of Barclay’s Bank Ireland PLC and Chairman of the Investment Committee of Development Capital Ltd. 

Returning to his contributions relating to UCC, Eoin was a Non-Executive Director of Cork University Foundation from 2002-2016, helping the foundation to raise the support, funding and advice required to maintain UCC as an internationally recognised world-class University. 

Eoin was also appointed as Chair of the Tyndall National Institute Board in 2014 and has faithfully guided the institute since then. Tyndall is a unique organisation in the Irish research and innovation ecosystem and it is a flagship research institute at UCC, with an annual research income of over €40m and a community of over 600 staff and postgrad students. 

It has been said that Tyndall is the jewel in the crown of research in Ireland and it is widely recognised a leader in ICT research across Europe. Under Eoin’s leadership, Tyndall has seen significant growth in both reputation and scale. Eoin also served as acting CEO for a time before my own appointment in 2018, so it is appropriate to acknowledge his direct and ‘hands-on’ involvement in securing committed government funding for its major expansion, including a iconic new 17,000m2 research building planned for UCC’s North Mall campus. 

Given his achievements in both the public and private sectors and in enterprises of all scales and his clear ability to navigate and steer organisations to best harness the external winds of change, it will come as no surprise that Eoin has a passion for sailing and he races on Dublin Bay on most Thursdays and Saturdays over the summer months. 

In conclusion, over an extensive career Eoin has contributed significantly to the economic development of our country. Through his many appointments relating to research and innovation and not least in his role as Chair of the Tyndall National Institute Board over the past 7 or so years, he has helped ensure that Ireland is well on its way to realising our ambition to become a global innovation leader. 

As CEO of Tyndall National Institute I have benefited immensely from Eoin’s guidance and expertise in the Innovation space, and so it is an honour and a privilege for me to present Eoin O’Driscoll for the award of an honorary Doctorate in Science."


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