Government invests €49 million in data analytics, machine learning and AI

16 Dec 2019

Minister for Business, Enterprise, and Innovation, Heather Humphreys TD, and Minister for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development, John Halligan TD, recently announced a Government investment of €49 million through Science Foundation Ireland in the Insight SFI Research Centre for Data Analytics.

This Government investment will secure a further €100 million from industry and other international sources, such as the European Union, over the next six years to further harness the power of data analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI).

Insight is playing an important role in our plans to prepare now for tomorrow’s world

Minister Humphreys welcomed the announcement, saying: “I am delighted to announce this new investment in Insight, whose research and outputs are aligned with Future Jobs Ireland, the whole of Government plan to prepare our businesses and workers for tomorrow. Many traditional job roles are changing, and with Brexit and other international challenges on the horizon, we must continue to plan ahead, focus on what is within our control domestically and be the masters of our own destiny. Insight is playing an important role in our plans to prepare now for tomorrow’s world by keeping Ireland at the cutting edge of innovation in this important sector.”

Through this new investment, Insight will continue its world-class research via a set of three demonstrator projects under the themes: Augmented Human, Smart Enterprise and Sustainable Societies. In addition, it will significantly expand its Education and Outreach Programme, including a new Citizen Science initiative.

Insight was established in 2013 and is hosted at four higher education institutions: Dublin City University, National University Ireland Galway, University College Cork and University College Dublin and works in partnership with Maynooth University, Trinity College Dublin, Tyndall National Institute and University of Limerick. 

UCC’s Vice President for Research & Innovation, Professor Anita Maguire, said, “This investment to ensure Ireland is at the forefront in research in such an important area of research as data analytics is extremely welcome - we look forward to exciting outcomes.”

Insight is a tremendous powerhouse of AI and data science in Europe

Insight’s director at UCC, Professor Barry O’Sullivan, is also President of the European Artificial Intelligence Association and Vice Chair of the European Commission High-level Expert Group on AI. He remarked that “Insight is a leading international centre of excellence in artificial intelligence. In fact, all Fellows of the European Artificial Intelligence Association, representing the top 3% of researchers in AI in Europe, are associated with Insight. Ireland’s Centres for Research Training in areas related to AI, machine learning, and data science, are led by Insight investigators. Insight is a tremendous powerhouse of AI and data science in Europe. This renewed investment in Insight is of major strategic importance to Ireland.”

This allocation forms part of a new six year round of funding (with an overall investment of €230 million) for six Research Centres, including Insight.  The investment has been made by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation, as part of Project Ireland 2040, through Science Foundation Ireland.

The centre’s new CEO, Professor Noel O’Connor, believes that the State’s continued investment in Ireland’s largest data research institute is a major boost for Irish research and will continue to pay dividends for the Irish economy. “We are very proud of what we have achieved since 2013. The establishment of Insight has been a major success story for the Irish economy, and the figures prove it,” says Professor O’Connor. “We have very ambitious plans for our next phase. We have globally competitive talent working at the frontier of research in artificial intelligence, smart cities and the augmented human, and have positioned ourselves right at the heart of innovation leadership.”

Commenting on the announcement, Science Foundation Ireland’s Director General and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland, Professor Mark Ferguson said: “Insight’s research is equipping indigenous Irish companies to harness the power of data analytics, machine learning and AI to become more competitive and open new markets. The SFI Research Centres continue to attract and retain multinational organisations who want to conduct high value research in Ireland. Centres like Insight are seeding the next generation of world class innovators in our universities.”

Insight was established through an initial SFI investment of €43 million and has delivered an economic impact of €593m to the Irish economy. For every €1 of state investment, €5.54 is returned to the economy on an overall leveraged basis.

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