Waterford News

TSSG KTI AwardThe virtual awards ceremony for the coveted Knowledge Transfer Ireland (KTI) Impact Awards took place Thursday 26th November. The virtual reality team in the Telecommunications Software and Systems Group (TSSG) and the Technology Transfer Office (TTO) in Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) patiently waited in their homes for the voting to finish to hear the CoronaVRus project announced as the winner of the inaugural People’s Choice Impact Award. The awards was proudly accepted by Dr. James O’Sullivan, TTO Manager.

“We are thrilled to accept the inaugural People’s Choice Impact Award. The aim of the CoronaVRus experience was to give something back to society at the beginning of the COVID19 pandemic to help those with learning difficulties to better understand the life altering restrictions. The success of this project is beyond our expectations. I would like to thank the team in KTI for their continued support of our multidisciplinary approach to research in WIT” he said.

The virtual reality team in TSSG developed CoronaVRus, a virtual reality (VR) application aimed at children that can be used as an educational tool to showcase, educate and demonstrate COVID-19 safety guidelines in an intuitive manner. The application is Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) friendly and offers a fun method of education to build awareness in a safe and interactive environment.

Speaking after the win, the Directors of TSSG, Kevin Doolin and Dr. Sasitharan Balasubramaniam, extended their congratulations to the virtual reality team “Congratulations to WIT’s TTO Manager, Dr. James O’Sullivan, and the TSSG team, Ryan, Ian, Stephen and Colin, on winning this accolade. It’s a fantastic achievement and a measure of the research excellence currently in TSSG”.

Echoing the congratulatory messages is Frances Cleary, Research Unit Manager in TSSG. “I am very proud of the VR/AR research team for making it to the final and coming home with an award. The CoronaVRus project showcases the excellent teamwork within the unit and is a testament to their continued dedication whilst working remotely. This virtual reality educational experience is part of ongoing research into the impact of virtual reality on people with ASD and hopefully it has helped people better understand the current COVID19 regulations”.

The ARVR team were successful in an Enterprise Ireland funding call in 2019 to develop a Mixed Reality Lab in TSSG however, due to COVID-19, the finishing touches have been put on hold. Rather than allow the new equipment to go unused, the team utilised the materials in their respective homes and came together online to create this learning tool.

The VR experience is a combination of visual and kinaesthetic learning tools to raise awareness of COVID-19. Aimed at children aged 8 and up, this interactive experience can be used as a tool to educate children in a fun and engaging environment. Using the HSE COVID-19 safety guidelines, this informative and interactive experience demonstrates how to effectively wash hands using a sequence of cards and how to successfully practice social distancing in a supermarket or retail environment.

ClickWaterfordLocal Enterprise Office Waterford recently launched its ‘Click Waterford’ campaign to encourage Waterford shoppers to click and support local in the run up to Christmas.

The digital and social media campaign, supported by WLRfm, Winterval and Waterford in Your Pocket, puts the spotlight on the vast array of artists, designers, food producers and craft makers that Waterford is home to.

Featured artists, designers and producers have the opportunity to have their profiles and products posted on a dedicated Click Waterford directory on the respective websites.

Richie Walsh, Head of Enterprise, Local Enterprise Office Waterford, said the campaign aims to assist local businesses on the back of a challenging year and encourage consumers to shop Waterford and support local.

“There is an understandable narrative coming from all counties encouraging shoppers to stay local, spend local and support local, and Waterford is no different.”

“The livelihood of many small businesses was threatened as bricks and mortar stores took a big hit during the pandemic. However, many of these small business owners and sole traders took the initiative to pivot their businesses towards online selling by developing ecommerce sites. Now and in the run up to Christmas, while we cannot browse in store of local shops, workshops, and galleries, we can browse and buy from their online stores.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of having access to local products and services and Local Enterprise Office Waterford provided Trading Online Vouchers (TOVs) to over 350 Waterford based businesses, which covered 90% of the cost of developing an ecommerce website, along with ecommerce resources, mentoring and support services. As a result, hundreds of local businesses have transformed how they provide goods and services online, making it easier to buy from them than ever before and enabling them to continue to trade even while their doors are closed.

The Click Waterford campaign is running concurrently with a national ‘Look for Local’ communications campaign to encourage the public and businesses to seek out products and services from businesses in their local area. The campaign is led by the Local Enterprise Offices and supported by Department of Enterprise, Trade & Employment, Enterprise Ireland, and the Local Authorities.

“COVID-19 has had an irrevocable effect on local businesses of all scales in all sectors. However, if we all can play a small part in helping them by shopping and supporting local, we can face into 2021 with renewed energy and confidence.”

To find out more about the supports available from Local Enterprise Office Waterford to help your business respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, call 0761 102 905 or visit www.localenterprise.ie/Waterford/

Local Enterprise Office Waterford – helping your business on the road to recovery.

ArcLabsThe Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar TD, today announced €8.24m in grants for 95 Enterprise Centres around the country under Enterprise Ireland’s Enterprise Centres Fund. Arclabs Research and Innovation Centre in Waterford Institute of Technology’s West Campus was awarded €120,000.

Enterprise Centres are embedded in communities in every county in the country. They provide space and training for entrepreneurs, allowing them to work remotely, access training and advice, and network with other business leaders.

This funding will be crucial to Arclabs in WIT as they continue to offer services to local businesses during what is an exceptionally difficult time. It will allow the centre to continue its hugely valuable mission to support entrepreneurship in the South East. The €120,000 will go towards upgrading facilities and technology and will provide comprehensive video conferencing facilities to support the increased virtual engagement which will continue to be used by the ArcLabs team and clients into the future. Furthermore, the funding will support the roll out of a comprehensive recovery programme for ArcLabs (current and prospective) clients to ensure the sustainability of enterprise at this time of crisis. With increased capacity in the centre, Arclabs are widening eligibility criteria to welcome people in the region who may be working from home currently and would like to return to an office environment.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said: “I am really pleased to make this funding available through my Department. It will help enterprise centres all over the country to modernise their facilities protecting the health and safety of people who work there and helping to secure much needed jobs.” 

Julie Sinnamon, CEO, Enterprise Ireland added: “Over the past 20 years, Enterprise Centres have provided important infrastructure for entrepreneurs and are an essential part of the start-up ecosystem across Ireland. The Centres, many of which are regionally based, provide space, connectivity, mentoring and support to start-up founders and teams, helping them to scale internationally.

“The funding announced today through Enterprise Ireland will ensure that the Enterprise Centres, many of whom have been negatively impacted by Covid-19, can sustain their businesses, pivot and further develop their services to support the next wave of Irish start-up companies.”

Dr Aisling O’Neill, ArcLabs Manager, has welcomed this award “the work we do in ArcLabs is focussed around supporting entrepreneurship and that includes our current clients, our graduate clients and of course, the clients we haven’t even met yet. This award from Enterprise Ireland means we can continue our good work and ensure that ArcLabs keeps supporting and building the entrepreneurial community in the South East region. To add to this, at this time, we have the capacity to support those individuals who could benefit from working in a coworking innovative space and I urge them to get in touch by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.” 

The fund, which was launched in August, was open to both not-for-profit and for-profit enterprise centres which have seen their income significantly impacted as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. The 95 enterprise centres, which are in every region of the country, will receive grants ranging from €10k to €150k.

WIT main campus Tourism Leisure buildingAdult learners will now be able to apply for a 90% or 100% subsidised place on a further choice of courses that start this January at Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT).

WIT has won over €1m funding to offer 84 places on one-year full-time masters courses and 233 places on shorter ‘modular provision’ courses under the Government’s ‘July Stimulus’ initiative.

The institute is opening applications on 20 November 2020 to 20 courses which will have a late January 2021 start. More information is available at WIT’s two virtual open days on 20 and 21 November 2020 at www.wit.ie/open to help adult learners with their going to college questions about these course and scores more WIT has on offer.

Last month Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris TD announced over €30 million in free and subsidised higher education places under the Jobs Stimulus package to help get people back to work, upskill workers and build economic confidence while continuing to manage the impact of COVID-19.

Minister Harris said that many of courses focus on future proofing the skills of those in employment, particularly in roles that may be impacted by digitalisation.

"These courses will enable people across the country to embark on new pathways, or refresh or reskill in their employment. We must ensure a jobs led recovery by putting upskilling and SME supports centre stage. This is a crucial part of the jigsaw."

The courses fall into two categories: full-time postgraduate courses and ‘modular courses’ are short and focused and will be offered in a flexible manner, allowing people to gain important skills without taking a considerable period away from the labour market.

Neil Quinlan, Head of the Department of Lifelong Learning at WIT welcoming the funding said:

“Minister Harris and the Higher Education Authority deserve credit for bringing this new stimulus scheme to fruition amidst the pandemic. Building on the success of the Springboard initiative it offers a “broad range of further upskilling opportunities to people in the South East to upskill and reskill to better meet the current and future challenges we’re dealing with.”

All courses under this initiative will open for online applications on 20 November at www.wit.ie/fundedcourses

The full-time taught postgraduate courses include masters in business, computing and engineering. They are fully-funded for returners while employed, formerly self-employed and recent graduates pay just 10% of the course fee.

The shorter ‘modular provision’ courses are fully-funded for unemployed, people on PUP and returners, while the employed and recent graduates pay 10% of the normal fee. They include courses in science, education, computing, business and administration including Social Enterprise Management.

WIT studentsWaterford Institute of Technology (WIT) is to run two virtual open days next week (20 and 21 November) to help prospective undergraduate students and adult learners with their going to college questions. The virtual open day will be accessible via www.wit.ie/open

The launch of a new virtual campus tour for the online open days will be for many the first exclusive insight into the Sunday Times Institute of Technology of the Year 2021 since Government restrictions were introduced last year.

Marketing and outreach officer at WIT, John Power explains how this open event will differ from other events. “What we have found from running previous virtual open days is that the people who attend are those who really want to engage with the days. We have made a huge effort to make sure that they will have as much to engage with as they would an in-person open day. The fact it is taking place online allows for a wider amount of people from across the country to participate and explore their study options.”

Last year over 1,600 of the 5,000 plus new higher education-going students in the region in 2019, or almost 1 in 3 (30%) chose WIT.

On Friday, 20 November from 12pm to 4pm the traditionally schools focused open event will be targeted mainly at people interested in WIT’s 70 CAO courses including three brand new courses and its common entry course offering.

On Saturday 21 November from 12pm to 4pm lecturers, staff and students will be on hand again to deliver specialist talks and answer queries on all aspects of college life and course choices from everyone from school leavers to adult learners looking to boost their career prospects.

A big part of each virtual open day is the chance to talk with lecturers who deliver on undergraduate programmes and the support staff from right across the institute. “Online each day you can chat with staff from our admissions, schools liaison, outreach, fees and grants, accommodation and student life and learning departments,” he adds.

The online open day experience will closely map an in person open day. When people arrive to the dedicated web space they will be able to ask for directions to where they should go by going to the Help Desk. “Just like pre-pandemic open days visitors to open days have a choice of talks to attend and the chance to ask questions of lecturers, staff and students. The addition of booths in an online exhibition place complete with course flyers and people to chat to means that people who want to explore specific areas will have access to the same people and resources albeit online,” he adds.

The timing of the virtual open days are crucial for CAO applicants – the countdown is on to the 20 January early bird CAO registration deadline. In addition for part-time, postgrad, Springboard and flexible learning students there are a number of courses with a January start.

WIT main campus

WIT has won over €1m funding to offer 84 places on one-year full-time masters courses and 233 places on shorter ‘modular provision’ courses under the Government’s ‘July Stimulus’ initiative.

The courses will all open for applications on 20th November and will all begin in late January 2021.

The full-time taught postgraduate courses include Masters in Business, Computing and Engineering. They are fully-funded for Returners while Employed, Formerly Self-Employed and Recent Graduates pay just 10% of the course fee.

The shorter ‘Modular Provision’ courses are fully-funded for Unemployed, people on PUP and Returners, while the Employed and recent Graduates pay 10% of the normal fee. They include courses in Science, Education, Computing, Business & Administration including Social Enterprise Management.

All courses will open for online applications on 20th November at www.wit.ie/fundedcourses

 

WIT President Prof Willie DonnellyThe President of Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT), Prof Willie Donnelly, has welcomed the recently announced €110.6m in urban regeneration and transport funding for North Quays in Waterford, calling the investment “transformative for the city and region” and “a signal of confidence in the South East”.

Prof Donnelly said, “The North Quays project is a demonstration of the ambition there is in and for Waterford and the wider South East region of Ireland. The Council and its enterprise partners have been tenacious and single-minded in pursuing this incredible opportunity and we look forward very much in WIT to helping realise their ambitions for the North Quays and for the region. Our ambitions with regard to higher education, that is, our plans to develop a university of international standing in the South East, are entirely aligned with the kind of ambition that has led to the North Quays investment. The vision that has led to this point in the North Quays project along with the strong backing of central government is necessary for us to deliver on the overall commitments set out in Ireland 2040 for more balance regional development.”

The importance of this investment for the city, according to Prof Donnelly, is that it elevates the city internationally and helps position the city on the international stage. “We have excelled in WIT over the last decade or so in attracting European funding into Waterford and the South East and have as a consequence built extensive industry and academic contacts across Europe and further afield,” he said. “Attracting international talent into the city and region however requires a very high quality of life and the infrastructure to support high performing companies. The North Quays promises to scale-up in a very significant way what’s available to those companies and will enormously enhance our international competitiveness and visibility.”

Prof Donnelly went on to welcome the significant job creation that will come about immediately because of the investment and indicated the existence of a strong “pipeline” from WIT of “graduates” who are “employment-ready”. “The creation of a significant number of new jobs in Waterford is very welcome,” said Professor Donnelly, “and we note that in the initial phase many of these jobs will be in construction and related areas. This has been an area of very high performance for WIT in recent years and we have recently graduated quite a number of highly-skilled, highly-motivated, very talented people in areas like construction management and across the construction-related trades.”

TSSG have 3 excellent opportunities for experienced researchers to join our team and work alongside leading organisations throughout Ireland.

Funded via the Enterprise Ireland Career-FIT Plus Programme, Waterford Institute of Technology will offer fellowships to carry out research in our Technology Gateways, guided by an experienced WIT Academic Mentor as well as a Company mentor who are concerned not just for the fellow's scientific progress but also their training and development in line with the agreed career goals.

Opportunity 1: How Blockchain can bring efficiency to Accident and Emergency operations in Healthcare systems'. Looking to blend AI with Blockchain for implementation for real use case applications in the Healthcare sector, the application will solve problems under an intelligent resource management framework. The candidate will research the development of a digitalised system; medical passports, privacy preserving, patient care protocols etc. which will aim to combat professional fatigue in the healthcare system. There will be opportunities for the researcher to apply the strategy in the real world as part of the secondment with the partnering company, Blocknubie.

Opportunity 2: There is scope to refine an area of research around Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning in relation to Smart Communities and Energy Systems. The candidate on submitting their request to participate may suggest more specific research areas of interest, with a view to discussing them with TSSG researchers and the industry partner.
There will be opportunities for the candidate to apply the strategy in real world and commercial applications as part of the secondment with the partnering company, OpenSky Data Systems.

Opportunity 3: TSSG and HaloSOS are looking for a research candidate to develop a body of research for Voice AI for the Staff Safety Solutions in Enterprise Clients Globally, in the hospitality market. There will be opportunities for the researcher to apply the strategy in the real world as part of the secondment with the partnering company, HaloSOS*

We would very much appreciate if you could share the above opportunities with your network of colleagues and partners or with anyone who might be interested. In order to secure funding, the experienced researcher must develop a proposal with TSSG before 31 December 2020. More details can be found here: https://www.wit.ie/research/our_research/career_fit_plus

realirishtrees comWaterford based student entrepreneur Jordan Casey has teamed up with a nationwide group of Christmas Tree farmers and growers to bring the Christmas Tree Farm online during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

The COVID-19 Pandemic has had a profound effect on the world this year, and as a result, Christmas is also going to be extremely different. One of the most traditional and important customs surrounding Christmas is of course, The Tree.

This year, Growers and Farmers find themselves in an unprecedented and uncertain place, with Public Health measures meaning traditional pop up shops and farms may be unable to open to sell trees.

One such grower, Waterford based Derek Walsh, was determined to pivot this year and so has collaborated with Waterford based student entrepreneur Jordan Casey in curating a vast network of growers nationwide to deliver an Online Platform that brings the Tree Farm to the home.

Real Irish Trees.com is Ireland’s first and only farmer-led platform that offers Real Irish Quality Christmas Trees with Free Nationwide Delivery starting November 24th.

Real Irish Trees is truly the first of its kind and was created by a motivated network of growers who saw it necessary to pivot in what promises to be an unprecedented Christmas Period.

In aiming to temporarily move the traditional Christmas Tree farm to an online environment, the team have launched a state-of-the-art, easy to use website with a fantastic buying guide, information on local growers and a fully customisable tree selection. 3 varieties of tree: The Nordmann Fir, The Noble Fir and Fraser Fir, 9 heights from 3ft-12ft and 3 widths: Narrow, Standard and Wide.

What is truly game changing about this service is the Free nationwide delivery. The sites technology aims to support local growers by assigning Delivery addresses to the closest grower in their proximity. For example, if you buy a tree for delivery to Waterford City, you will be assigned a grower in Waterford.

Customers may also choose their delivery dates starting November 24th, and the growers are encouraging customers to pre-order their trees to avoid disappointment. The Site is: https://realirishtrees.com

WIT Bubbly ScienceWith a line up ranging from Bubbly Science to Chemistry in the Movies, the upcoming Southeast Science Festival has something for all ages and stages of life.

Taking place online from 8-15 November as part of National Science Week, 2020’s Southeast Science Festival will host a huge array of exciting events for adults and families as well as primary and secondary school pupils.

Supported by Science Foundation Ireland, local Pharma companies MSD, Abbott, WEST, Sanofi and Bausch and Lomb, Waterford and Tipperary councils, the festival brings world renowned scientists and science presenters to the south east region of Ireland.

This popular festival will be going ahead despite Covid restrictions and this year all events will be online. Details can be found at http://www.calmast.ie

Events will take place throughout the week, with unique shows and workshops for primary and secondary schools. A key feature of the festival will be the TY Science quiz, where schools from across the south east can compete against each other to win our first ever TY science quiz – sure to be a lot of fun. Science in Elite Sports Performance will allow schoolgoers to discover the science behind elite sport with and how it has helped athletes such as Carrick-on-Suir’s own Sam Bennet improve their performance.

A family Science Fun Day will take place on Saturday, 14 November and will bring science directly to homes with a series of creative, fun and experimental science workshops. –

Learn about exotic animals with Dave’s Jungle, the science of bubbles, how to make slime, and a lot more.

According to Dr Sheila Donegan, coordinator of the festival “Now, with this Covid pandemic, we have seen that science is now more important than ever. With that in mind, we have designed a festival with events for everyone to get involved in, there is something for everyone!”

The Southeast Science Festival will host a special event in partnership with local companies joining together to encourage and inspire girls to become involved STEM, it will highlight the many career opportunities available in the STEM area, taking place on Tuesday, 10 November, facilitated by award winning science communicator Niamh Shaw.

Prof Willie Donnelly, President of Waterford Institute of Technology said “We are delighted to be bringing this exciting festival to the Southeast. Our STEM Engagement Centre, Calmast have developed an exciting programme, and Calmast continues to prove that science is fun and can be enjoyed by the whole family.  So leave the Covid-19 lockdown behind by engaging in one or many of the fantastic events and workshops."

The festival will featured a Family STEM Scavenger Hunt (Science Technology Engineering and Maths) running Saturday 14 November and Sunday 15 November. This is a chance for all of the family to work together to take on other families in a hysterical Science-themed scavenger hunt.

The full programme of events, and booking details can be found at http://www.calmast.ie

The festival is coordinated by Calmast , the STEM Engagement Centre at Waterford Institute of Technology. The centre is funded by Science Foundation Ireland, as the STEM hub for the South East region, and is working with local industry in Waterford and Clonmel/Carrick-on-Suir area to roll out STEM engagement activities throughout the year through a STEM Hub and Cluster model.

Waterford Food Bank

What’s your company doing for Christmas?

Waterford Food Bank is asking companies, organisations and social clubs to consider helping the food bank this Christmas. Demand for the service has more than doubled in the past eight months and we are now supplying basic food to over 1100 people per week in the Waterford area. 

This last year has been unlike any other; Covid-19 has challenged us and we are grateful for the wonderful support we have received from individuals, suppliers, funders and sponsors. Your generosity truly makes a difference. We welcome any organisations, businesses or individuals who would like to contribute to make someone’s Christmas a bit brighter.

We are seeking sponsorship of seasonal items for our food parcels, such as turkeys, hams, puddings, and mince pies. We also need supplies of tea and coffee. Please get in touch by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if your company can help.

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