Dublin tech is at the centre of the IoT revolution

If you’re not entirely sure what the Internet of Things (IoT) is, or if you haven’t even heard of it yet, that’s alright. Essentially, the IoT is a connection of devices to the internet, whether that’s your washing machine or your house alarm and everything will be ‘talking’ to the other. On a micro level, that might mean that your alarm clock will tell your coffee machine that it’s time to start brewing a pot when you get up; on a macro level the possibilities are infinite, including making cities smarter. Late in 2018, research and advisory firm Gartner forecast that there would be 14.2 billion connected things in use in 2019, rising to 25 billion by 2021.

Founded in 2013, innovation cluster DCU ALPHA is in the vanguard of IoT developments and is contributing significantly to Dublin’s reputation as a global leader in the field.

Professor Brian MacCraith, president of DCU explains: “the concept was to create a hub of high-tech innovation in this region that would really leverage the proximity of the research-intensive university” (The main DCU campus is a mere 800m away). “When we were creating DCU Alpha”, says MacCraith, “the notion was for the university to be engaging with high-tech companies. When you bring different disciplines, different specialisms and different organisations together, that’s when innovation happens best – at the interfaces”.

It’s happening a lot. DCU Alpha is currently home to over forty-plus industries focused on digital transformation and smart devices. Fire 1, for instance, is a connected medical device solutions company dedicated to improving outcomes for people suffering with chronic diseases. Earlier this year Fire1 announced a funding investment of €40 million into the Alpha-based company.

Then there’s Novaerus, another company at DCU Alpha that’s on a medical mission: to reduce indoor airborne pollutants that lead to infection, allergies, asthma, and irritation. The patented plasma technology used in its portable devices was invented in Ireland in 2006. Novaerus installations can now be found in hundreds of hospitals, senior living facilities, schools, emergency vehicles, airports, railway stations and industrial facilities worldwide.

Another interesting resident at DCU Alpha is Robotify. A start-up led by DCU students, its intriguing offering is robots-as-a-service. Via its robotic coding platform, children at home can code and control robots located on Robotify’s lab premises, thereby freeing their parents from the expense of buying expensive robots kits – and then treading on the things. Robotify is also one of the 5% of companies at DCU Alpha which are currently working with the European Space Agency – others include Ubotica, Enbio and Taoglas.

Ronan Furlong, Executive Director of DCU ALPHA, reports that the facility now features a series of proprietary systems or IoT “innovation infrastructures” to encourage and monitor its outputs. These include “the Dolmen IoT/product design lab, the Taoglas M2M test/validation lab, VT-IoT’s Sigfox base station, a Pervasive Nation LoRa base station, ESA’s Satcom ‘makerspace’ L-Band capabilities, as well as the planned IoT prototyping facility in partnership with Dublin City Council and TheFabLab”.

In September of 2018, there was another exciting development at DCU Alpha with the arrival of pan-European coworking/digital innovation platform Talent Garden. Talent Garden (TAG) provides the space, the network and the training for communities of innovators to thrive and flourish.

“We knew all along that we needed a state-of-the art co-working space [at DCU Alpha]” says MacCriath, “something that was quite unique and distinctive. This is the first university collaboration that Talent Garden has ever had. With 350 spaces for digital innovators, entrepreneurs and multinationals all at this location and all in close proximity, the possibilities are endless. It creates all the right ingredients for a huge surge in innovation”.

MacCraith adds that the Talent Garden Dublin facility “goes way beyond co-working as it is currently understood in Ireland, and into the fields of accredited digital skills training, corporate digital transformation, as well as creating international connectivity for Irish startups looking to scale up in other markets”.

With that all-important connectivity in mind, opportunities for people to meet and socialise are also optimised at the Talent Garden. “That’s why there’s a restaurant here and a coffee shop with wonderful Italian coffee”, says MacCraith “which will probably be one of the greatest catalysts for innovation!”

To find out more, visit DCU Alpha

Claire is a Dublin-based journalist who contributes to a wide range of publications including The Irish Independent and Image magazine. She occasionally reviews restaurants, and loves a good crime novel.

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