Waterford News

TSSG FaithIRISH scientists are leading the way in a ground-breaking research project which they hope will predict depression earlier in cancer patients via their smartphones and trusted medical markers and ultimately improve survivors’ quality of life and treatment aftercare.

As many as one in five cancer sufferers experience depression and mood change post diagnosis. Researchers in Waterford have now teamed up with globally-renowned cancer hospitals and consultants and research colleagues in Portugal, Spain, Italy and Cyprus for the early intervention FAITH project, an initiative which may also have wider application outside of cancer care.

The €5 million, EU-funded initiative is designed to care for the mental health of patients post treatment and help them on their road to recovery, the research team headquartered at the Telecommunications, Software and Systems Group (TSSG) at Waterford Institute of Technology say.

Together, they will apply the latest, secure artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning techniques to an interactive app on patients’ phones. FAITH will help to better model and predict disease and treatment pathways and intervene early if mental health supports are required.

Data sources such as a patient’s activity, outlook, sleep, appetite and voice tone are monitored, with additional data is gleaned through a series of questions asked through the FAITH monitoring system daily.

FAITH’s ‘AI Angel’ remotely analyses depression markers, predicting negative trends in their disease path, giving their healthcare providers advanced warnings and ultimately allowing for timely intervention. These markers are assessed in accordance with the traditional, tried and trusted 3M strategy for population health – Monitor, Measure and Manage.

To protect privacy of the individual, but still gain insights that are beneficial to the broader population, FAITH is based on federated machine learning, which makes it possible to build machine learning systems without direct access to personal treatment data.

Project Co-ordinator, Gary McManus of the Telecommunications, Software and Systems Group (TSSG) at Waterford Institute of Technology, says it’s the most exciting healthcare project he has ever undertaken at the edge of city research hub.

“Central to the vision of the FAITH project is to measure population health deeply. We will monitor individuals on a continuous basis to cast a wide net over their health data. A key strength of FAITH is the involvement of eminent cancer hospitals and specialists in the consortium.

“We will work together to produce relevant, applicable cancer care related findings that can effectively leverage a big data framework using computational intelligence approaches and methodologies that can be used for long term cancer care health risk and symptom minimisation for patients.

“FAITH has trial sites in Madrid, Waterford and Lisbon. This isn’t research for the sake of research. FAITH is potentially life-changing,” he said.

The project will include invaluable input from two breast cancer hubs and one lung cancer specialist centre in Portugal, Philip O’Brien, Technical Co-ordinator, explained.

“The hospitals are very eager to get this project underway. They are very interested in AI and how to apply it in a myriad of health settings. Our key role in TSSG will be in technical coordination of the project. We will be responsible for driving the development of the AI models, as well as the deployment of the federated learning framework.

“FAITH will be an early warning system for doctors and allow them to be proactive instead of reactive. As soon as there is a negative shift in a patient’s mental wellbeing it triggers an alert.” he said.

Commenting on the significance of FAITH, Dr. Sasitharan Balasubramaniam, Director of Research at TSSG, says: “Cancer and post cancer care will affect all of us during our lifetime. FAITH is a passion project for the team and one TSSG are delighted to be co-ordinating as we aim to work on more projects that will benefit the society of the future.”

LEO Business Continuity Voucher

Minister Humphreys introduces new measure as part of COVID-19 Business Supports Package

The new Business Continuity Voucher is now available through Local Enterprise Offices and is open to sole traders and companies across every business sector that employ up to 50 people, the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys T.D. announced on March 25th.

The voucher is worth up to €2,500 in third party consultancy costs and can be used by companies and sole traders to develop short-term and long-term strategies to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic. The goal is to help business owners make informed decisions about what immediate measures and remedial actions should be taken, to protect staff and sales.

Making the announcement, Minister Humphreys T.D. said: “I know this is still a very worrying time for all businesses. And as part of the package of supports that I announced earlier in the month, I am making a €2,500 voucher available through the Local Enterprise Offices from today to enable enterprises to avail of vital business continuity advice, to assist them with developing short-term and long-term strategies to deal with the COVID-19 outbreak. “

She added, “The voucher will give companies access to contingency planning advice that will help them continue trading through this crisis and to be ready for the recovery phase, when it comes. This voucher will also assist enterprises to prepare a business case for application to emergency financial interventions that are available through the Banks, the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland or through Microfinance Ireland”.  

Richie Walsh, Head of Enterprise at Local Enterprise Office Waterford, welcomed the new support package. “This is a critical time for small businesses. While businesses are, understandably, caught up in the here and now, this scheme will support companies to make sound, informed decisions on the immediate measures needed to continue to trade in this challenging environment and develop a strategy to assure future business viability.”

“Amongst other things, the Business Continuity Voucher will also include measures such as preparing a business case for application to emergency funding, reducing costs, implementing remote working procedures and exploring supply chain financing options. I would urge small business in Waterford, regardless of their industry or sector, to apply for this voucher. Local Enterprise Office Waterford will work with all businesses to provide practical and pragmatic contingency planning advice.”

The scheme is open to all types of businesses that employ up to 50 people. To apply, companies or sole traders fill out a short application form and submit it directly to Local Enterprise Office Waterford. When a company is issued with a voucher for third party consultancy, they begin working directly with a qualified expert, selected from existing Local Enterprise Office and Enterprise Ireland panels.

To apply for the Business Continuity Voucher, companies submit a short application form to their Local Enterprise Office. Forms are available to download from www.LocalEnterprise.ie/Response

Details of other business supports available from the Department of Enterprise, Business and Innovation can be found at https://dbei.gov.ie/en/

LEO COVID

While the Covid-19 pandemic has brought a wave of extraordinary challenges and uncertainty, the Irish Government and state agencies are working together on a co-ordinated response to support individuals and businesses affected by the crisis.

The network of Local Enterprise Offices and Enterprise Ireland have introduced measures that will give access to finance to businesses, such as the Credit Guarantee scheme, Microfinance business loans and the Covid-19 Working Capital scheme.

Local Enterprise Office Waterford is offering free HR and finance advisory clinics for any local business that needs assistance in accessing these aids.

Richie Walsh, Head of Enterprise, Local Enterprise Office Waterford said, “At the present moment, if you are a small business in Waterford, you are probably confused, overwhelmed and unsure what to do next.”

“Your Local Enterprise Office is here to help and is determined to deliver a set of services, specifically designed to make the situation as manageable as possible for the business community in Waterford.”

If your business has been affected by Covid-19 and you need advice, Local Enterprise Office Waterford is offering 30-minute telephone / Skype consultations with HR, finance and general business mentors. To avail of this free support service, call the LEO Waterford office and a dedicated specialist will get back to you to discuss your business issue. This is a confidential service and is open to all businesses. LEO Waterford will also endeavour to signpost you towards further Government and State agency business supports.

Brid Kirby, Enterprise Development Officer, LEO Waterford added, “The Government has announced a number of assistances for businesses as Covid-19 escalates. If your business is trying to navigate through these uncertain times and get access to finance or employment assistance, please get in touch with us today and we will try to help steer you in the best possible direction.”

To book your free HR, finance or general business advice consultation, call 0761 102905 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and a dedicated mentor will get in touch with you.

For further information about any of the above measures visit https://sbci.gov.ie/or https://www.localenterprise.ie/Waterford/

LEO COVID

The Government has announced a range of assistances for businesses as the Covid-19 crisis escalates and is expected to have a detrimental effect on businesses throughout the country.

Richie Walsh, Head of Enterprise at Local Enterprise Office Waterford said, “The country is facing an unprecedented period of uncertainty and disruption. While the health and safety of our loved ones will always be a priority, keeping businesses afloat and the economy stable is equally important.”

“A wide range of measures has been made available from the Government and in addition, Local Enterprise Office Waterford would encourage any business experiencing difficulties due to the Covid-19 pandemic to talk to us about accessing these supports.”

The maximum loan available from MicroFinance Ireland will be increased from €25,000 to €50,000 as an immediate measure to specifically deal with exceptional circumstances that micro-enterprises (sole traders and firms with up to 9 employees) are facing.

Firms that need to reduce hours or days worked can avail of the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection Short Term Work Support by contacting their local Intreo Office.

In addition, Local Enterprise Offices in every county will be providing vouchers from €2,500 up to €10,000 (with 50:50 match funding) to support business continuity preparedness, innovation and productivity. Enterprise Ireland with the Local Enterprise Offices will activate advisory clinics and mentoring support for impacted firms. In addition, Enterprise Ireland with the Local Enterprise Offices will activate advisory clinics and mentoring support for impacted firms.

“I would encourage any small business to take advantage of the portfolio of supports that are available from Local Enterprise Offices or Enterprise Ireland. There is sure to be doubt and uncertainty surrounding issues such as cashflow and access to finance, as much as there is uncertainty surrounding supply chain management and personnel.”

“The objective of these measures is to give Irish businesses, regardless of their scale or sector, the means to mitigate job losses and financial difficulties.”

“And perhaps even more importantly, if you run a small business and you are concerned about something and you are not sure who to talk to, please pick up the phone and ring the LEO office at 0761-102905 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. We may not have all the answers, but we will try our best to help you and to steer you towards the best possible solution.”

For further information about any of the above measures visit https://sbci.gov.ie/ or https://www.localenterprise.ie/Waterford/

WIT Claire KearyDr Claire Keary, a researcher in the School of Science and Computing at Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT), has been awarded funding for research into radiation monitoring under the EPA's Research programme 2014 - 2020. This research programme provides funding under three pillars - Sustainability, Climate and Water; WIT was awarded this funding under the Research Sustainability Call.

Funding of €198,000 was secured for a three year project entitled ‘Radioactivity in the Irish Coastal Environment (RICE)’, which will be carried out in collaboration with UCD, NUIG and the EPA’s Radiation Monitoring Laboratory.

Physics staff and students at WIT have been collaborating with the EPA’s Office of Radiation Protection and Environmental Monitoring (ORM) for a number of years in the area of environmental radiation monitoring. WIT recently signed a Service Level Agreement (SLA) with the EPA to provide a framework for enhanced cooperation in areas of mutual interest in environmental radiation monitoring.

The EPA-funded project will involve measurement of radioactivity levels in the Irish coastal environment and identifying sample locations subject to, or potentially subject to, the accumulation of naturally occurring radioactive material (NORM), such as ports and harbours.

 Dr Claire Keary, Principal Investigator of the RICE project said “the project will seek to develop robust and accurate methods for the determination of natural radionuclides by the technique of high-resolution gamma spectrometry. By applying these methods to the analysis of selected dredge material samples, the project will consider the application of international guidelines to assess the suitability, from a radiological perspective, of the disposal of these materials at sea in relation to NORM.”

Dr Chris Burbidge, a collaborator from the EPA’s Office of Radiation Protection and Environmental Monitoring (ORM) said “the RICE project will support and enhance the EPA’s current analytical capability in the area of high-resolution gamma spectrometry. The project will also inform the development of policies in terms of NORM and the impact of practices involving NORM materials on the Irish coastal environment, which are of particular importance in relation to new radiation protection legislation.”

Dr Burbidge added “the results obtained will contribute to the EPA’s environmental radioactivity monitoring programme, which is carried out in order to comply with its statutory and international obligations to assess doses to individuals and the population, and to ensure that any increase in radiation levels are detected and assessed rapidly.”

WIT Research Support UnitWaterford Institute of Technology (WIT) currently holds the position of lead institute of technology in Ireland with regard to EU Horizon 2020 (H2020) funding.

This is according to Enterprise Ireland’s Eleventh Interim Report of Irish Involvement in Horizon 2020, released in December 2019, on the European Union Framework Programme for Research and Innovation; the biggest in the EU.

Through Horizon 2020 €80bn of funding has been made available over seven years (2014 to 2020) to stimulate excellent science, build industrial leadership, and provide solutions to the challenges that our society faces. WIT’s success in H2020 up to the time the report was published is just over €15m which comprises 23 successful projects. WIT has a very ambitious target of €20m in H2020 funding and is well on the way to achieving this by the end of the programme with numerous more proposals in the pipeline for 2020. Ireland has secured €861.4m worth of funding in Horizon 2020 to date.

The objective of H2020 funded projects is to create a digital Europe that will benefit the society of the future. This funding framework is designed to further develop research and industry engagement opportunities throughout the EU whilst creating a future society that all users can benefit from.

WIT’s successful projects involve researchers from a number of academic schools in the Institute, covering a wide variety of research such as smart agriculture, data analytics, 5G networks, ocular research, transport, future health, monitoring cardiac arrhythmias, artificial intelligence, disruptive technologies supporting the labour market and many more.

In addition, WIT has been successful with a further €1m for other projects indirectly funded under H2020 bringing the institute’s total funding figure as of 31 January 2020 to €16.1m. WIT researchers are leading 11 of these projects and have partnered with over 500 organisations across Europe. These projects have a total project value of just under €160m.

Dr Mark White, Vice President Research, Innovation & Graduate Studies in WIT stated “We have implemented many support structures which provides the WIT research community the opportunity to apply for internal funding to enhance their research activity, to increase the value of competitively won research funding and to increase the number of quality peer-reviewed publications. These support structures can ultimately build on our success in H2020 and position ourselves for participation in Horizon Europe”.

Dr White went on to say, “WIT’s success in European funding has a huge impact on the South East region. The majority of this project funding translates into high-end, highly skilled research professionals who live in the South east region, bring their families to the South East region and contribute to the South East economy. WIT is a catalyst for raising awareness of European funding across the region and the knowledge development as a result of their success builds WIT’s capacity to support better engagement in the region. WIT collaborations also link us into international best practices which allows companies we interact with access to this best practice and cutting edge research.”

Philomena Treacy, European Research Programme Officer in WIT explained, “The objective of the Research Support Unit is to make each researcher in WIT aware of the funding opportunities available within each of their areas. The team deliver information sessions on the various funding programmes, facilitates training opportunities on every aspect of proposal development and project management and works with the researchers through each of these stages in an effort to improve quality of proposals and encourage new researchers to engage in funded projects.”

TSSG Jim ClarkeTelecommunications Systems Software Group (TSSG) at Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) has been awarded funding of €3.5 million under Horizon 2020 for a Research and Innovation Action project entitled “A Collaborative platform for Bridging EU-US Next Generation Internet (NGI) Experiments (NGIAtlantic.eu)”.

Horizon 2020 is the biggest EU research and innovation programme with almost €80bn of funding made available over seven years (2014 to 2020). The objectives of the H2020 programme is to: stimulate excellent science, build industrial leadership, and provide solutions to the challenges that our society faces.

This 3 year project has 3 European partners, TSSG/WIT (Coordinator - Ireland), Trust-IT (Italy) EURESCOM (Germany), and 2 American partners, Rutgers University and the University of Utah.

Over its lifetime, NGIAtlantic.eu will launch 5 open calls for proposals, with a total of €2.8 million available for European organisations, with US-based counterpart organisations being funded by US funding agencies, willing to carry out high-quality research & innovation activities on NGI experimental platforms. The purpose is to develop collaborations between EU and US research teams around the technical challenges posed by the vision of developing a more human-centric Next Generation Internet.

The NGI initiative, launched by the European Commission in the autumn of 2016, aims to do things very differently from the research and development activities of past programmes. The NGI initiative aims to shape the future internet as an interoperable platform ecosystem that embodies the values that Europe holds dear, including openness, inclusivity, transparency, accountability, privacy, cooperation, protection of data and information, and freedom. Since its launch, the NGI initiative has been developed to drive this technological revolution by attracting smaller scale project teams, with an expressed emphasis on high impact innovators, to bid for regular open calls on a number of relevant NGI topics.  These topics are spanning the domains of privacy and trust enhancing technologies, decentralised data governance, new forms of search and discovery, interactive technologies, and many more, while contributing to making the future internet more value-centric, human and inclusive for all citizens.

The project is led by James Clarke at TSSG who has dedicated over six years to building this research area of NGI as a project coordinator within the Future Internet Research Experimentation (FIRE) initiative and he was directly involved in the initial setting up and building of the EU’s NGI Initiative as coordinator of the SpeakNGI.eu project, one of the three “pathfinder” projects helping to define and build the NGI initiative with the European Commission. In addition, Clarke has a proven track record of coordinating international cooperation projects at TSSG for over a decade, including dedicated projects with the USA, making the awarding of NGIAtlantic.eu a natural fit for this multi-million-euro project.

Commenting on the funding success, Clarke said “the consortium of partners from both EU and US has been selected carefully to bring the necessary competences together all the crucial areas required ranging from technical knowledge, direct experience in EU - US collaborations, to NGI policy understanding. This project is the culmination of years of effort and I am looking forward to seeing the results taking place over the next three years and beyond the lifetime of the NGIAtlantic.eu project”.

Stephen O’Reilly, the ICT H2020 National Contact Point for Ireland at Enterprise Ireland noted that “this is considered a landmark project since it represents the largest budget share to a single participant coming into the Republic of Ireland in ICT under Horizon 2020. This accomplishment is reflective of the success of Irish researchers in the area of ICT and contributes to underpinning the competitiveness of Ireland’s research eco-system. Researchers across the Institutes of Technology and the Universities and companies should be looking at the remaining opportunities under Horizon 2020 and preparing for Horizon Europe”

“TSSG and WIT have had great success in the Horizon 2020 programme across a number of domains and this is a significant boost to Jim and the team as we edge closer to the beginning of the Horizon Europe programme in 2021” explains Kevin Doolin, Director of Innovation at TSSG.

Additional information on the NGIatlantic.eu project can be found here.

Waterford SEP Awards 2020Rooted Solution from St. Augustine’s College in Dungarvan has qualified for the National Student Enterprise Final.

Rooted Solution, winner of the Senior award created a business selling affordable tree saplings with biodegradable packaging to help sustain the environment. The west waterford students took part in the Local Enterprise Office’s Student Enterprise Programme Awards last Tuesday at the Tower Hotel.

The Waterford Student Enterprise Programme started in September with 1,000 students from 15 schools in Waterford City and County. They created their businesses, developed, branded, promoted and sold. But most importantly they learned what it felt like to run their own business.

Finally, 120 students represented 12 schools in Waterford county and competed in the Waterford Student Enterprise Final on Tuesday March 3rd at the Tower hotel. 43 businesses in total, shortlisted from a total of 350 who commenced the competition in September, presented their business plans and challenged for the top prize in the Waterford Student Enterprise Programme.

The National Finals take place on May 1st in Croke Park where the Waterford students will be taking on 34 other businesses, the best of the rest of the country.

Co-ordinated by the Local Enterprise Office Waterford, the competition is the most successful programme of its kind in the country. 27,000 budding entrepreneurs from 380 secondary schools across the country have been running their own enterprises, with help from their teachers and Local Enterprise Offices.

Finalists from all over the country will set-up enterprise exhibition displays before taking part in a series of judging interviews.  The judging panels take numerous factors into account, such as business reporting, innovation, market research, risk management and finances.

Further information about May’s National Finals is available through www.studententerprise.ie, which also has free resources and video tutorials for students and teachers for the programme.

For more information, please contact your Local Enterprise Office at 35 the Mall in Waterford City or Civic Offices in Dungarvan. Alternatively, you can email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  

Knockanore Farmhouse Cheese NEAKnockanore Farmhouse Cheese, a west Waterford company producing a variety of hard-pressed mature farmhouse cheeses has been named as Waterford’s Enterprise Award winner and will go on to represent Waterford at the National Enterprise Awards in Dublin on May 28th.

Eamonn Lonergan, whose parents started farming with just four Kerry cows, now boasts a 150-strong top-class pedigree Friesian milking herd.

Producing farmhouse cheese made in the cheddar style using raw milk, along with red and white cheddars, flavoured with garlic, herbs, black pepper and chives, as well as the famous Oakwood smoked cheddar, Eamonn’s USP is a top-quality cheese, made from raw milk from a single herd.  

Investments in state-of-the art equipment to extend and modernise the cheese making facility, along with plans to roll out a new packaging system for all Knockanore’s pre-packed cheeses, signal Eamonn’s intent to future proof his business.

Richie Walsh, Head of Enterprise at Local Enterprise Office Waterford, congratulated Eamonn and his team on enhancing and introducing a traditional product to a new cohort of customers.

“Eamonn has shown great innovation in taking the time-honoured cheddar cheese and creating a range of exciting flavours and fusions. Not content to rest on his laurels, he has been proactive in advancing the business through making improvements to increase productivity and profitability, exploring new export markets, continuing to develop new ranges and educating the public and chefs about the different flavours and textures of artisan cheese.”

Eamonn Lonergan acknowledged the support he received from Local Enterprise Office Waterford. “Over the last thirty years the level of support has been phenomenal. The people we have dealt with have offered us nothing but great support in the form of mentoring and financial assistance. It’s heartening to work with an agency that not only understands your business but wants it to flourish as well.”

Richie Walsh added “The National Enterprise Awards highlight the pioneering work of entrepreneurs and small businesses throughout the country. In Waterford we are lucky to have a large collection of inspiring, creative and hard-working individuals who have a vision and make it happen.”

As well as representing Waterford in the National Finals, Knockanore Farmhouse Cheese was presented with a specially commissioned trophy from Copper Coast Woodcrafts. Made from locally sourced Irish Oak with a hand-crafted copper Oak leaf inset, the Oak in the award is symbolic of its strength and durability.

Presenting the award to Eamonn and his wife, Patricia, Mayor of Waterford, Cllr. John Pratt said that Eamonn epitomised the entrepreneurial spirit in Waterford and beyond. “By investing and continuously innovating, Knockanore Farmhouse Cheese has firmly established itself as a market leader and is a great example of how entrepreneurs can turn ideas into great products.”

Knockanore Farmhouse Cheese is among one of the 7,000 companies maintaining 36,000 jobs, supported by the network of 31 Local Enterprise Offices, and will represent Waterford in the National Enterprise Awards Final which was established in 1998 to celebrate the achievements of Ireland’s micro-enterprise sector.

Date: Thursday 12th March

Time: 12.30 – 2pm

Location: Lawlors Hotel, Dungarvan

Cost to attend: Free

The Dungarvan & West Waterford Chamber invites members to meet with Mark Foley, CEO, EirGrid Group over lunch to discuss:

  • Who EirGrid are
  • What is happening in your County
  • Introduce the EirGrid Strategy
  • EirGrid’s role in the Climate Action Plan
  • Drafting a Plan to 2030
  • How EirGrid and businesses can work together

EirGrid have recently published their Company Strategy – ‘Transforming the power system for future generations ‘- for 2020 to 2025 where they have set out the key components which are necessary to deliver on their responsibilities as the national electricity transmission grid operator. These components will help to ensure that Ireland meets its climate change obligations as set out in the Climate Action Plan published last summer. It will also ensure that the country will have the electrical capacity to facilitate economic growth across all regions. Businesses across Ireland have a key role to play in the fight against climate change. EirGrid wish to partner with all stakeholders in order to deliver a meaningful and effective response to the climate challenge.

As a business in our locality, EirGrid we would like to engage directly with you to address these shared challenges together.

This is a lunch time event, lunch will be provided to attendees. To book phone 058 45054 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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