SFI awards major Research Centre to NUI Galway
Friday, 23 May 2003
Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) has announced major funding for three new Centres for Science, Engineering and Technology (CSETs) at NUI Galway, Royal College of Surgeons and UCC. The three successful centres received their awards against competition from 23 other applicants. The new Digital Enterprise Research Institute (DERI) at NUI Galway will receive €12m from SFI over the next five years (with a review for further funding after two years), with significant resource investment being contributed by Hewlett-Packard s European Software Centre in Galway.
DERI will conduct basic and applied research on the Semantic Web and Semantic Web-enabled Web Services, and on the innovative implications of this emerging technology for industry and society.
The importance of this research to business and the public alike is evidenced by the already enormous use of the Web as a tool for communication, accessing and distributing information and conducting business. Traditional Web technology has stimulated the development of entirely new methods of accessing markets, distributing product information and connecting dispersed commercial partners. However, the success of the Web has made it increasingly difficulty to find, sort, present and maintain the information distributed globally.
Fortunately, the Semantic Web provides a way of handling this explosion of information and DERI will be at the forefront of this step into the second generation of Web technology. Conceived by the architects of the original web, the Semantic Web is still in its infancy, but when fully developed it will enable computers to talk meaningfully to each other.
The new Institute will be directed by Prof. Dieter Fensel, a leading figure in Semantic Web research world-wide, and co-directed by a leading industrial researcher, who brings significant experience to DERI from the US. Prof. Fensel plans to build the number of research staff in DERI to over 60 post-graduate and post-doctoral researchers by 2008.
DERI will be a rich collaboration between NUI Galway researchers from the Computer Integrated Manufacturing Research Unit, the Centre for Innovation and Structural Change, the Departments of Information Technology and Electronic Engineering and key industrial researchers from HP's European Software Centre in Galway. In addition, DERI will attract world-class researchers from around the globe.
While DERI will be based on the NUI Galway campus it will also have a laboratory at the HP European Software Centre, allowing easy physical and intellectual exchange of researchers between academia and industry. DERI has also developed strong academic links with the Next Web Generation Group at the University of Innsbruck in Austria, through joint projects headed by Prof. Fensel, and plans to foster an extensive researcher exchange programme with the Group. In a research area that demands team-work and global collaboration, this international sharing of ideas and personnel will greatly enhance the potential of DERI to establish itself as a world-leader in the Semantic Web.
The involvement of Hewlett-Packard's European Software Centre in Galway is particularly important for DERI s mission to support the future development of indigenous Irish industry. In the commercial world, where software technologies for different parts of a business have not been based on a common foundation, there are serious problems with trying to connect these various data-handling applications. Semantic Web-enabled Web Services will allow the development of simple interfaces between these applications. With over 100 interconnected systems and interface technology ranging over 30 years, HP s European Software Centre represents an ideal 'real-life' laboratory in which the research carried out by DERI can be case-studied and applied.