Tánaiste Announces Major Investment of over €45 million in SFI Centres for Scien

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Mary Coughlan T.D., has announced substantial awards totalling €45.7 million over five years, through Science Foundation Ireland (SFI). This investment provides second term funding for the Digital Enterprise Research Institute (DERI) at NUI Galway as well as two other world-class research Centres for Science, Engineering and Technology (CSETs). Funding will be supplemented by an additional contribution from industry of €14.5 million, bringing the overall investment to over €60 million. At NUI Galway, DERI is researching technologies that will underpin the next generation of the World Wide Web – the Semantic Web. Announcing the awards, the Tánaiste said: "From its inception, the SFI CSET programme has been designed to facilitate the creation of internationally-competitive, large-scale research centres that support high-quality collaborations between higher education institutes and industry-based researchers. All three centres have been playing a pivotal role in contributing to the Government's goal of building a world-class research base in Ireland, and developing our human capital to support economic competitiveness. Today is an endorsement of this achievement to date, and marks the beginning of the next chapter for each individual researcher and their respective teams". Michael Turley, CEO, DERI, said at the announcement: "The receipt of this second term funding from SFI will enable DERI to execute on its strategies. These include world class research and the creation of fourth level human capital for Ireland s knowledge economy. This funding will give DERI the opportunity to exploit the commercialisation and job creation opportunities that will arise through DERI s industry partnerships and NUI Galway's technology transfer programmes. The University's education and outreach programme with schools and communities will also play a vital part in attracting third level students to the Engineering and Science disciplines". DERI's industry partners include: Nortel Networks (Ireland) Ltd, Cisco Systems Internetworking (Ireland) Ltd, FISC-Ireland Ltd, L M Ericsson Ltd, Storm Technology Ltd, Celtrak Ltd, Cyntelix Corporation Ltd, OpenLink Software (UK) Ltd. Stefan Decker, Scientific Director, DERI, NUI Galway, said: "DERI s mission is to create the foundation for interlinking the worlds knowledge. We are not only aiming for academic excellence, but together with our industry partners we want to change the way how people interact with the computers when using the Web or Desktop software. Starting from a basis of strength enabled by SFI s funding, we are confident that we are able to help shape Ireland s future." Also attending the announcement, Minister for Science, Technology and Innovation, Dr Jimmy Devins T.D. said: "A total of 12 distinct indigenous and multinational companies will partner with these CSETs, and SFI funding will be bolstered by these industry partners' contribution of an additional €14.5 million in the form of funding, personnel and equipment. The funding announced today will directly support almost 200 researchers, graduate students and others in a well-structured and wholly-collaborative environment between now and 2013". The two other funding awards under the SFI CSET Programme announced today are for: Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre (APC) based at University College Cork which is focusing on research in gastrointestinal health; Director: Professor Fergus Shanahan, Industry Partners: GlaxoSmithKline and Alimentary Health. Other Partners: Teagasc CRANN, the Centre for Research on Adaptive Nanostructures and Nanodevices which is hosted by Trinity College Dublin and is working in the area of Nanotechnology; Director: Professor John Boland Industry Partners: Hewlett-Packard and Intel Commenting on the awards, Professor Frank Gannon, Director-General of SFI stated: "SFI CSETs have led our portfolio of initiatives that are steadily moving Ireland towards a truly knowledge-based economy. These CSETs have been independently verified as playing an important role in building a world-class research system in Ireland, as well as linking successfully with major multinational companies and providing an attractor for multinational investment in research in Ireland. Funding for the three CSETs announced today was approved by the SFI Board following a rigorous, multi-faceted assessment process. This encompassed international scientific peer review, 31 international experts participated in the postal review process and 28 international experts participated in the four on-site reviews. In addition, a 'Strategic Value to Ireland' assessment was performed by key Government agency stakeholders, including IDA Ireland, Enterprise Ireland, Forfás, the Higher Education Authority and the Health Research Board. Ends

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Newgrange Winter Solstice Webcast Marks Start of International Year of Astronomy

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Dr Martin Mansergh T.D., Minister of State at the Department of Finance with special responsibility for the Office of Public Works has announced broadcast details of this year's Winter Solstice at Newgrange, County Meath. Minister Mansergh said: "Last year, for the first time ever, the Office of Public Works (OPW) broadcast a live internet web stream of the iconic sunrise in the 5,000 year old chamber at Newgrange, County Meath. Many thousands of people all around the world tuned in to enjoy coverage and I am delighted, this year, to announce that we are providing a similar live stream of the event on our Heritage Ireland website, www.heritageireland.ie. In addition, Free to Air coverage will be available to any television outlets who wish to broadcast the event". The Minister continued: "This year also sees an exciting collaboration between my Office and the International Year of Astronomy (IYA2009). Ireland will be the first country in the world to mark the start of the International Year of Astronomy 2009 with this special event and we are happy to work in partnership with IYA2009, Discover Science & Engineering and NUI Galway, the main sponsoring bodies of the Irish node of IYA2009". The International Year of Astronomy (IYA2009) is a global celebration of astronomy and its entirely peaceful contribution to society and culture. 2009 is the 400th anniversary of the first use of an astronomical telescope by Galileo, in reality the beginning of the modern age in astronomy. The aim of IYA2009 is to stimulate a worldwide interest and encourage participation in astronomy and in science amongst students at all levels, and among the general public. In Ireland, a programme of events for IYA2009 is being organised by the Irish Node of IYA2009, headed by Professor Michael Redfern, Centre for Astronomy, NUI Galway. According to Professor Redfern, who lectures in Astrophysics, the Newgrange event is the perfect way to mark the coming year: "The Solar new year actually begins with the winter solstice, so in terms of astrophysics we will already be entering 2009. Newgrange is an extraordinary structure, demonstrating what a deep understanding of astronomy and what great precision in building the passage tomb was shown by our Irish ancestors, some 5000 years ago. It is a most moving event to witness for oneself the first rays of sunlight entering and lighting up the inner chamber where they placed the cremated remains of their ancestors, as it must have been for them. The hope for 2009 is that initiatives throughout the year will encourage participation in science, will provide a modern gender-balanced view of science and scientists, and will encourage cooperation between astronomers in the developed and developing world. We are very grateful to the Office of Public works for the opportunity to work in partnership with them on this world-renowned event". In order to see the live webcast, viewers should log onto www.astronomy2009.ie -Ends-

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Prize Winners Visualise Irish Online Life in boards.ie Competition

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

The Digital Enterprise Research Institute (DERI) at NUI Galway has announced the winners of a competition run in conjunction with boards.ie. The competition brief was to produce an interesting creation based on a data set reflecting ten years of Irish online life from boards.ie, Ireland's largest discussion forum website. boards.ie is one of Ireland's busiest websites, with 1.7 million unique visitors a month. The site has recently won a Golden Spider Award for Best Social Networking or Community Site, and Irish Web Awards for both Best Discussion Forum and the Grand Prix. The most popular discussion areas are 'after hours', soccer, motors, poker and computers. Popular topic threads include: a virtual pub (over 4000 pages); member discussions (2800 pages); poker stories (1800 pages); Liverpool rumours (1250 pages); recruitment in the Gardaí (800 pages long); and a freebie list (250 pages). For the competition, the data from boards.ie (approximately 9 million documents) was represented in the Semantically-Interlinked Online Communities (SIOC) open data format developed by DERI. Dr John Breslin, a researcher with DERI and co-founder of the boards.ie site said: "The competition had about sixty registrants and there were eight final submissions of very high quality that demonstrated really interesting usages of the Semantic Web data. There has been huge interest in the winning entries from many communities (developers, researchers, designers) and the winners have agreed to release the code for others to use". The winning submission was entitled "SIOC.ME: A Real-Time Interactive Visualisation of boards.ie Semantic Data within a 3-D Space". The entry illustrated how 3-D visualisations may be harnessed to not only provide an interactive means of presenting or browsing data but also to create useful data analysis tools, especially for manipulating the "semantic" (meaningful) data from online communities and social networking sites. Submitted by Darren Geraghty, a user interface and interaction designer from Co. Galway, the entry was praised by the judges for the huge amount of effort that went into creating it. In second place was a visualisation application called "boardsview" by Stephen Dolan of Trinity College Dublin. This interactive, real-time animation where one can watch the historical content from many discussion forums changing in real or compressed time. In the application, viewers can zoom into a particular forum to see individual users posting messages or to see threads being created and destroyed. Third prize was awarded to the "Forum Activity Graph" by Drew Perttula from California. This entry was a visualisation showing the popularity of forums on boards.ie as represented by coloured rivers of information, which were then rendered and displayed using Google Maps. The competition was judged by an independent panel of three experts: Ian Davis, Chief Technology Officer with Talis; Harry Halpin, researcher at the University of Edinburgh and chair of the W3C GRDDL working group; and Peter Mika, researcher at Yahoo! Research Barcelona and author of the book Social Networks and the Semantic Web. First prize was an Amazon voucher worth $4000, with a second third prize work $2000 and $1000 respectively. -ends-

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NUI Galway Launches New Energy Research Centre

Monday, 15 December 2008

NUI Galway today formally launched its new Energy Research Centre. The newly established Centre has already attracted significant research funding in the region of €5 million, and plans to fill up to 20 new research and development positions in 2009. External participants include indigenous and multi-national industries, researchers from Teagasc, the Marine Institute, partner Universities and other international collaborators. The Energy Research Centre will take a holistic approach by focusing not only on cutting-edge research, but also on education and outreach. The first of its kind with such wide-ranging scope, it will build on NUI Galway's strong reputation in areas such as bioenergy, energy efficient technologies, renewable resources and energy policy. The aim is for the Centre to become an international centre of excellence, as well as a central hub for energy research in Ireland. According to Professor Vincent O'Flaherty, Director of the Energy Research Centre, "From electricity-producing micro-organisms to smarter wind power, there are possibilities for new approaches to energy generation all around us. The challenge is to integrate science-driven understanding with engineering-based implementation and, to do this, Ireland needs a holistic approach to energy research. For future economic growth, this is one of the few areas where a positive outlook is guaranteed. If we can upscale our energy research and take a more co-coordinated approach nationally, there is a clear opportunity for Ireland to take a leadership role in this critical field". At NUI Galway, the Energy Research Centre is being hosted by the University's Environmental Change Institute. Over 100 researchers from NUI Galway's Colleges of Science; Engineering and Informatics; Arts, Social Sciences and Celtic Studies; Law; and Commerce are affiliated with the Centre. -ends-

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Minister Announces New Engineering Building for NUI Galway

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Minister for Education and Science, Batt O'Keeffe T.D. last night announced that the Government has given the go-ahead for NUI Galway to commence work on a new €50 million Engineering Building on the Galway city campus. Leagan Gaeilge Speaking at NUI Galway, Minister O'Keefe said: "I am glad to be able to announce that the Government has sanctioned tendering for the development of a new Engineering School for NUI Galway. The new Engineering Building will be funded through a combination of exchequer funding under the National Development Plan 2007-2013, resources realised by NUI Galway, as well as donor funding". This 14,200 square metre building will accommodate the College of Engineering and Informatics, which is currently spread across 13 separate locations, both on and off-campus. It will include 'green-building' initiatives, and will itself be utilised as a teaching tool for the students. The building will house 110 staff and approximately 1100 students. Dr James J. Browne, President of NUI Galway, welcomed the announcement: "This is fantastic news for the future of Engineering at NUI Galway. We have always had a strong reputation for the quality of our Engineering programmes and this new development will transform the facilities and the quality of experience on offer to our students. The new building will also bring benefits to Galway city and the surrounding region - not only will it create jobs in the short term, it will enable us to continue to produce top quality Engineering graduates for the future". Designed by award-winning architects RMJM (Scotland) in partnership with Taylor Architects of Castlebar, Co Mayo this building will be the largest building constructed in one development on the NUI Galway city campus and will be situated to the north of the Quincentennial Bridge. The building contract will go to tender on Friday, 12 December, with a view to commencing construction in April 2009 and completing the project in March 2011. During peak construction period up to 300 people will be employed on the project. Minister O'Keeffe added: "Institutions such as NUI Galway have an essential part to play in enabling the State to face these demands and challenges as we move closer to realising our vision of a knowledge economy". ENDS

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