Minister of State with special responsibility for eGovernment Patrick O’Donovan, TD, has awarded research contracts to two Irish companies – Derilinx and Ludex – to explore how Artificial Intelligence (AI) can be applied as an assisted digital service to help people to easily find, access and use online public services that meet their needs, or the needs of someone in their care.

In line with the eGovernment Strategy 2017-2020, which recognises the importance of inclusion and the need to cater for a broad range of needs, abilities and capabilities, this initiative will establish the potential for AI to enable those who may need additional forms of assistance to find and use relevant digital public services.

The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform is jointly funding this research in partnership with Enterprise Ireland, through the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer (OGCIO). Enterprise Ireland’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) programme enables public sector bodies to work with some of Ireland’s most progressive technology businesses to provide innovative solutions for specific public sector challenges and needs. The aim of this research is to explore innovative ways of facilitating and enabling the widest extent of participation in terms of users of the Government Digital Services Gateway, www.gov.ie, and to guide and assist more people to use digital public services.

Commenting on the award of initial contracts for Phase 1, Minister O’Donovan said: “I’m delighted to be working with Enterprise Ireland in co-funding this research. We look forward to engaging with these two Irish companies to find innovative ways for how we might enable access to government’s online services for the widest range of people. We hope this initial funding will help these companies to develop sustainable and profitable products in the artificial intelligence arena. This initiative also gives us an opportunity to showcase the potential of real customer-driven service development to underpin Ireland’s leading position as an exemplar for eGovernment participation.”

Joe Healy, High Potential Start-Ups Manager, Enterprise Ireland said: “Enterprise Ireland’s SBIR initiative is about channeling the potential that lies within innovative Irish start-ups to create new solutions to specific needs and challenges, working in partnership with public bodies. The use of AI and advanced technologies to ensure inclusivity and access for all is a significant achievement for Derilinx and Ludex and I look forward to continuing our work with both companies, seeing their work applied to this challenge and exploring how their research can be applied to societal challenges on a global scale.

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