By @SimonCocking. We caught up with Ronan Furlong, Executive Director Dublin City University Alpha Innovation Campus, who are hosting our IoT event on May 30th. Learn more by coming to the DCU / ITN IoT event on May 30th, last few tickets available here.
What’s your role at DCU Alpha?
I look after the strategic development of the innovation campus and that covers just about everything from “where’s the plug”? to “where’s the 20 year strategy”? and everything in between. My role is concerned with how the campus gets refurbished and developed, which companies are brought in, how they initially engage with the University, how we shape and grow the community, how we connect the companies with each other, what kinds of innovation infrastructure we cultivate and build, what kinds of IoT initiatives that we pursue etc
How has it been going since you opened the new campus?
The campus (in its current iteration) is open 3.5 years and has grown to accommodate over 35 companies with about 400 staff between them. Since we’ve taken over the vacant property from Enterprise Ireland, we’ve reopened, repurposed and leased up over 100,000 sq ft of office, lab and industrial space to innovative companies across the health, space, energy, fintech and ICT sectors (both hardware and software). We are running out of available space in what we call ‘phase 1’ of the campus, but we are pressing ahead with plans to bring another 70,000 sq ft of space online over the next year. Large users of these additional spaces have already been identified.
— DCUalpha (@DCUalpha) May 11, 2017
What have been your big wins to date?
We are home to Siemens Irish HQ operation, where their Factory 4.0, Energy and ICT businesses are based. Just as interesting are some of the smaller companies based with us, such as Enbio (coating technology for spacecraft), Shimmer Sensing (wearable sensors), Ambisense (environmental sensors), VT IoT (Sigfox Network operator), Firmwave (edge IoT platform) and Fire 1 (implantable IoT technology). It’s the mix of large and small IoT enterprises, alongside the DCU IoT capabilities that make the DCU Alpha such an interesting melting pot.
What are your plans going forwards?
We have big plans for the remainder of 2017 and 2018!
We are about to ‘launch’ a European Space Agency (ESA) funded Satellite Communications IoT incubator programme (or ‘makerspace’) that is designed to accelerate research and development in the area of M2M/ IoT over satellite. Why? Because there will be ten’s of billions of IoT devices “out there” in the next 7 years. Not all areas of the earth’s surface will facilitate IoT connectivity over terrestrial networks, therefore, satellite communication will be needed. The ‘makerspace’ will present calls to develop demonstrator project solutions to technical challenges surrounding the integration of satellite and M2M/IoT technologies. We will award funding of up to €30k in funding to successful teams, plus mentoring, free office space and access to technical resources and equipment, on behalf of the European Space Agency.
Also, watch this space for the announcement over the coming months of a 35,000 sq ft coworking space, as well as a 17,000 sq ft rapid prototyping facility here on site!
Why did DCU Alpha get involved with ITN for this IoT event?
We are positioned as Dublin’s IoT enterprise cluster so it makes sense for us to host and support this kind of IoT event. ITN have a long track record of covering and supporting other events here such as our IoT/connected hardware hackathon series, so its a collaborative relationship involving two parties who are both seeking to promote and develop the IoT capability and community in Ireland generally …. whats not to like!?
— DCUalpha (@DCUalpha) March 22, 2017
What opportunities are on offer for people/startups/investors and companies attending?
I think attendees are going to get a good feel for the breadth of IoT innovation that’s happening currently. We are going to see and hear about a lot of real companies designing, developing and delivering real IoT products and services around the globe. For IoT today, it’s all about commercial, tangible solutions hitting the market, so I’m hoping we’re going to hear lots of commercial case studies. One definition of “Innovation” that we like to use sometimes is “turning ideas into invoices” and IoT entrepreneurs need to have this focus to cut through a lot of the hype and confusion around IoT currently.
What tips would you give to people attending to get the most out of it?
Make sure you don’t go to the main DCU campus – DCU Alpha is the former Enterprise Ireland HQ site in Glasnevin village (just beside the Met Eireann building)! Also, if its a nice day people should take a lunchtime stroll into the Botanic Gardens which are beside us!
Anything else you’d like to add / we should have asked?
We have an interesting Maritime IoT project underway based in DCU Alpha – and hopefully, Lorcan Burke from Cisco will be on hand to explain the project in more detail on the day.