Waterford News

WIT TSSG Pacenew digital innovation hub in Kilkenny City can drive the digital transformation of Europe's Agri-Food sector, boosting innovation and growth in the region, while burnishing Ireland’s global leadership in agricultural technology, according to EU Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan.

Speaking at the launch of the Precision Agriculture Centre of Excellence (PACE), Commissioner Hogan said: "This impressive new hub gives Ireland’s agri-tech companies, most of them SMEs and micro-enterprises, direct access to best-in-class technologies and research, as well as cascade funding.

 “Smart use of knowledge, research and innovation is the main source of productivity growth in the EU agri-food sector. The digitisation of the European economy requires the full integration of digital innovations across all sectors of the economy, including agriculture and food.

“Precision Agriculture has never been more important in an industry facing challenges posed by climate change, ecosystem degradation and world population growth, as well as the growing need to produce more, using less. With facilities like PACE, we are building a network of digital innovation hubs across Europe to accelerate this digital transformation.

“PACE is an excellent strategic fit for the South-East region where agriculture accounts for 43% of total employment. This, coupled with the presence of leading global agri-food companies headquartered in the region and a growing base of agri-tech companies, confirms the pivotal role PACE can play in growing the region’s economy,” Commissioner Hogan said.

Waterford Institute of Technology President, Prof. Willie Donnelly, said: “PACE is an initiative of the TSSG at Waterford Institute of Technology and will leverage the Institute’s leadership in agriculture and Information Technology research and innovation.  It is an important next step in the Institute’s research and innovation centre which was established in St Kieran College in 2011. It will close the gap between research and deployment, with a focus on using existing technologies which are often deployed in other sectors.

 “PACE will serve agri-food processors, farm advisory services, companies selling services and products to the agri sector, and agri-tech SME’s and start-ups and rural-based industries which have the potential to transform into higher technology and higher value businesses. PACE will also serve regulatory, compliance and policy authorities by providing a technology resource to support their mission,” he added.

While the potential of ICT in agriculture is recognised, no single ICT-agricultural focused centre in Ireland is capable of identifying these advanced ICT solutions, Prof.  Donnelly added. “A large amount of ICT research taking place in Irish and international research centres is fragmented and not ready for immediate and easy adoption by the agricultural industry.

“PACE will have the capability to identify existing technologies which are of interest to the sector - including the Internet of Things, Big Data, Robotics and Artificial Intelligence - and assess their suitability for deployment in the Irish agricultural sector.

"PACE will also build connections between technology providers and Agri-Tech firms. It will also investigate and help to secure national and international R&D funding to support technology integration and development,” Prof. Donnelly added.

Kilkenny County Council have been a proactive stakeholder in the development of PACE from the outset and will sit on the PACE advisory committee. Council Chief Executive, Colette Byrne, said: “PACE will provide a cornerstone for the development of an Agri-tech cluster at The Abbey Quarter where industry and academics will work hand in hand. By scouting for technologies across the entire third level sector, PACE will provide an opportunity to commercialise those technologies that have potential for deployment in the agricultural sector and grow its presence not just in Kilkenny but across Europe.”

Waterford Book Launch

Richard Kirwan’s deeply moving novel, Minding Jack, is a strikingly vivid reawakening of Waterford in the early 1960s. It evokes a city caught between the conservative past and an exciting liberating present. It is set around a mother and her three adult children, living in the inner-city in 1964, struggling with the changing social and moral environment.

Kirwan skilfully draws out family and individual conflicts as well as some dark secrets as the children struggle to make their own lives away from the influence of a dominant mother, who has sheltered them from outside influences, even into adulthood. Now their sheltered lives and religious certainties are being challenged by the emergence of a less restrictive moral climate, something which ultimately threatens to split the family apart.

The story is interwoven with the fabric of the old city, its streets and laneways, shops, churches and gossip-mongers eager to spread the latest scandal. Indeed, the streets and shops take on their own personalities and become synonymous with the lives of the family members. It is Kirwan’s ability to integrate characters with the fabric of the city that makes it so evocative of life in Waterford at that time.

In many ways, the novel depicts not only life in Waterford but aspects of Irish society at that time and chronicles the national struggle both with conscience and social norms, which have defined Irish culture over the generations.

This book is essential reading for anyone with an interest in this old city.

The novel will be launched in the Book Centre on Friday 24th May at 6.30pm. All are welcome.

Boyle Room

Set in the heart of Lismore Town the Robert Boyle Escape Room at Lismore Heritage Centre is a great day out for families, friends and work colleagues for team building.

The escape room is set in the study of the famous scientist Robert Boyle, Father of Modern Chemistry, who was born in Lismore Castle in 1627. Players have 60 minutes to find Boyles secret alchemy box before his enemy Falcone gets here.

Players work together as a team to find clues hidden in the study, break codes, solve riddles and open locks, all within 60 minutes.

“Robert Boyle has been trying to solve some of the 17 century sciences most puzzling questions. His enemy the fraud Vincenzo Falcone believes that Boyle has discovered a mysterious ingredient that can turn base metals into gold. Falcone will be here in 60 minutes to search Boyles study. Can you save his precious alchemy box before he gets here, and Escape the Room?”

The escape room can take teams of 2-6 people. Prices according to size of team.

Come along to Lismore Heritage Centre where you are guaranteed a fun and challenging escape room experience.

Enquiries to Megan Barry

E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

T: 058 54975

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RobertBoyleEscapeRoom

LEO Entrepreneur RetreatFollowing the success of Local Enterprise Office Waterford Entrepreneur Retreat last year, applications are invited for this year’s residential Entrepreneur retreat.

Returning to Waterford’s Woodhouse Estate in Stradbally on June 14th and June 15th, this two-day event will be led by business experts and mentors and will challenge entrepreneurs to see their businesses with a fresh perspective.

Once again, the team at Waterford Local Enterprise Office will be joined by the entrepreneurial experts to lead and guide the course content.

Stephen Walsh of Aerhaus Ventilation was a participant on last years retreat and said the experience was hugely beneficial to him, both on a personal and a business level.

“Last year we were at a phase with the business where we needed to equip ourselves with the right tools to build on what we had to date and to take the company to the next level. I came to the retreat in 2018 as I wanted to learn from others. It was a great experience and I certainly gained an insight into how the other participants faced and overcame the challenges that are all too common in business.”

Richie Walsh, Head of Enterprise at LEO Waterford is looking forward to the return of the Retreat in June. “The residential retreat is the perfect opportunity for entrepreneurs to genuinely and absolutely work on their business rather than in their business. The programme delivered by the mentors and expert facilitators, along with the engagement of the participants allows those involved to gain valuable insight into high impact leadership and how to strategically maximise their future potential.”

“The number of places is restricted to eight business leaders, so there will be a lot of focus on their individual business strategies, but it will also harness the collective knowledge and experience of the group in order to plan new strategic goals to move forward and grow.”

The LEO Waterford Entrepreneur Retreat is priced at €200 per person and if you are interested in taking part visit www.localenterprise.ie/Waterford/

The closing date for expressions of interest is midday on Tuesday, May 28th and the successful entrepreneurs will be notified by 5.00p.m. on Friday, May 31st.

TSSG Dr Michael BarrosTECHNOLOGY experts in Waterford are bidding to tackle one of the most aggressive forms of brain cancer using miniature, implantable devices.

Brain cancer survival and recovery rates could be significantly improved as telecoms experts at Waterford Institute of Technology’s Telecommunications, Software and Systems Group (TSSG) partner with universities world-wide on the potentially life-changing GLADIATOR project.

Together, they’re developing miniature devices that interface with engineered cells, bio-nanomachines, to detect as well as treat the cancer from inside the brain.  

Engineering cells into bio-nanomachines involves the use of synthetic biology to design specific functions in living cells, and in this particular case, the secretion of molecules that can be used to detect and treat the tumour.

The devices, when implanted in the brain, will be controlled from an external wireless device that will collect information, which should enable a futuristic automated theranostic (therapeutic + diagnostic) solution for treating Glioblastoma Multiforme, a type of brain cancer that can kill within weeks.

GLADIATOR is a paradigm shift in Oncology, with the introduction of "bio-nano-machine diagnostics". It will stimulate the greater use of the "Internet of Bio-Nano Things", leading to technological and clinical developments with high socioeconomic impact, Principal Investigator and Director of Research at TSSG, Dr. Sasitharan Balasubramaniam predicts.

TSSG’s specific role in GLADIATOR is to look at the molecular communications side of matters. Molecular Communications is the emerging discipline of exploring the transmission of encoded messages via engineered cells. This will allow artificial networks of bio-nanomachines to communicate, and when externally controlled, can be used to not only extract information on the status of the cancer but also manipulate it to affect its progression, Dr. Balasubramaniam said.

“The comprehensive theranostic solution for brain malignancies is set to be a significant medical breakthrough. Currently, highly complex malignancies such as brain tumours have a very grim prognosis, despite recent progress in their treatment and management,” he added.

GLADIATOR’s mission is to radically and dramatically change cancer monitoring and therapy, TSSG’s Dr. Michael Barros said. “Surgery for this form of brain cancer is very traumatic as the cancer is embedded deep within the brain. GLADIATOR aims to use wireless signals to control implanted bio-nanomachine engineered cells within the brain for sensing and treatment, and to send signals back to an external computing device that will determine the next best course of action.

 “Moreover, the innovative biological and nanotechnology-based innovations, development methods, computational and analytical tools advanced through GLADIATOR, are expected to have significant economic impact, since they can enter into particular market segments as indicated by global market projections and underlying drivers,” Dr. Barros explained.

“The project team will also examine the circuitry design, the power and communication requirements etc of these tiny implantable devices and how to interface to the bio-nanomachines that will interact with the cancer,” Dr Barros added.

The €6 million Horizon 2020-funded project will substantially improve patient prognosis and prolong their survival, the GLADIATOR partners say.

GLADIATOR is already underway and the 4 year-long project sees ICT experts at TSSG working with six other vibrant academic centres across Cyprus (University of Cyprus), Finland (University of Oulu), Norway (Norwegian University of Science and Technology), Germany (Fraunhofer Institute for Biomedical Engineering), USA (Michigan State Univerity) and Japan (Osaka University) and a nano-biotechnology SME EPOS-IASIS from Cyprus.

 It is expected that the project’s results will substantially improve patient prognosis and prolong survival by minimising recurrences and reducing drug toxicity. Extended life expectancy and productivity, shorter hospitalisations, and less personnel and caregiver involvement will also have a positive effect on the already overstrained Health Care Systems.

Specifically, GLADIATOR will provide, for the first time, a working prototype of a complete, autonomous and clinically applicable, nanonetwork-based, theranostic system based on the conceptual framework of Externally Controllable Molecular Communications (ECMC), Dr Barros revealed.

TSSG is a renowned hub of innovation in ICT and its role in molecular communications and health in particular, has been growing since 2008.

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SCHOOLS, family groups, gardening enthusiasts and lovers of nature and the great outdoors across Waterford city and county will revel in the extended programme of events as part of this year’s Bealtaine Living Earth Festival. It runs from May 18 to 26 right across the south east.

 The massive free schedule includes over 50 events for adults, schools and all the family and celebrates biodiversity in the region, Calmast’s Dr Cordula Weiss said.

 Calmast, Waterford Institute of Technology’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths Engagement Centre, is proud to have even more events in Carlow and Wexford this year as the event grows in popularity, she said. She commended Waterford City and County Council for its invaluable support.

 The Waterford programme kicks off on May 18 at 11am and again at 1pm with Gardening for Pollinators: All things Buzzing and Beautiful, an event at the WIT West Campus at Carriganore run by Horticulture at WIT to celebrate Fascination of Plants Day. Sea Gardener, Marie Power, will lead a biodiversity walk at Garrarus Strand the same day between 11am and 12 noon.

On May 19, Dr Weiss presents Science on the Farm, an event at Copper Coast Mini Farm from 2pm. It is already fully booked. The same afternoon, the Lafcadio Hearn Japanese Gardens in Tramore are open for a free event from 3pm to 4pm.

The Dusk Chorus – the Songs of Nightfall at Curraghmore Estate from 7pm to 9pm is set to be a massive hit. Eric Dempsey, Bird Expert, Birds Ireland, and Author will bring enthusiasts on a dusk walk. It was one of the most keenly supported events on last year’s programme.

Met Eireann’s Head of Forecasting, Evelyn Cusask, will be a big draw. She is part of the Climate Change debate at City Hall from 3pm to 5pm on May 21. She will also be at The Munster Bar later that evening from 8pm for Ireland’s Weather – A journey through Time.

Stunning Mount Congreve is the venue on May 22, International Day of Biological Diversity, for Mount Congreve Unseen with Paddy Dwan, naturalist, author and photographer. It runs from 6.30pm to 8pm.

Bunmahon is the place to be earlier that day as the Copper Coast Geopark Centre hosts an open day with a talk about the changing landscape of Waterford from 11am to 12.30.

Other events on the programme for Waterford include Treasures of Earth workshop at Garter Lane Gallery on May 23 at 6pm with gemmologist, Tina Keating. The Secret of the Gardens at Mount Congreve runs from 6pm on May 24 and Robbie Galvin, Geologist will be at the Copper Coast Geological Walk from 7pm for a walk that takes attendees through hundreds of millions of years of the earth’s history.

One of the final Waterford events is at Annestown Beach on the coast road between Tramore and Dungarvan on May 26 from 2pm to 4.30pm. It is with geologist, Tina Keating and will be a great medium through which to learn about the geological history of the area.   

For more, log on to www.livingearth.ie and check out Facebook for the events: @BealtaineBiodiversity

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Local Enterprise Office Waterford is inviting clients in the craft and design sector to apply for a subsidised place at next year’s Showcase Creative Expo in the RDS.

Running for over forty years, Showcase has an impressive track record in attracting Ireland’s most talented makers and designers, along with buyers from over twenty countries.

Working in partnership with the Design and Crafts Council of Ireland, the 31 Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) around the country set up a dedicated area within Showcase every year - the Local Enterprise Showcase - enabling up to 100 designers, manufacturers and craftspeople to sell directly to international buyers.

A Waterford business with experience of Showcase is Monkey Cups, an Irish-designed barista standard reusable coffee cup. Established by Mailo Power and debuted at Showcase 2019, Monkey Cups is an advocate of reducing single-use plastic waste in creating a fun, reusable alternative.

Mailo said the experience was hugely beneficial to her company as it afforded her the opportunity to meet with national and international buyers.

“As we were a new brand it was hugely important to have face-to-face discussions with customers, build relationships and get feedback on our product, pricing and our packaging. Showcase Ireland 2019 helped us meet lots of interesting retailers face-to-face rather than by email or over the phone.”

“The advantage of attending Showcase Ireland is you get really focused on getting your product ready for market. The mentoring we received by LEO Waterford prior to the show was invaluable. We hit the ground running and were able to comfortably and confidently talk to people knowing what information decision-makers required in advance. We were fully supported every step of the way by LEO and we’ll certainly be back for 2020!”

Richie Walsh, Head of Enterprise at LEO Waterford said that Showcase is an invaluable stepping stone to any craft-maker or designer getting an audience with potential clients. “With buyers from Ireland, Europe, the USA and Asia, Showcase is truly established as the must-see trade event. For any one in the fashion, jewellery, home or giftware business the four-day event offers exposure to new international markets.”

“Not only will their place be subsidised by the LEO, in advance of the expo the successful applicant will also avail of training and briefing days in October in order to help them perfect their pitch and give them the tools, advice and insights to take full advantage of this fantastic opportunity.”

In addition, LEO Waterford is looking to map the craft sector in Waterford in order to gauge the future development needs of craft businesses in Waterford. A short questionnaire is available on line and all responses will contribute to the development of further support services to the craft industry.

LEO Waterford is now inviting any clients interested in availing of one of three stands to complete an Expression of Interest form and return to LEO Waterford by 12pm, Tuesday, May 22nd. Forms are available online at www.localenterprise.ie/Waterford/ or from LEO Waterford offices at 35, The Mall, Waterford or the Civic Offices in Dungarvan.

 

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