Ireland’s Martin Hynes Appointed as Chief Executive of the European Science Foundation

Martin Hynes with Prof. Paddy Cunningham, Chief Science Adviser to the Taoiseach, earlier this year.

The European Science Foundation (ESF), an independent, non-governmental organisation dedicated to European scientific networking and collaboration, announced this morning that Martin Hynes has been appointed as Chief Executive of the ESF for a three-year term.

The Chief Executive manages the office of the Foundation along with a team of international staff, and the post is held by Prof. Marja Makarow until the end of the year. Mr. Hynes is currently the Executive Director of the Irish Research Council for Science, Engineering and Technology (IRCSET). Commenting on his appointment, Mr. Hynes said: “The values held by the European Science Foundation are very close to my heart, from research excellence and openness, to ethical awareness and a pan-European approach.”

Established in 1974, the ESF consists of 87 member organisations (responsible for about €25 billion of funding annually) across 30 countries, and has its headquarters in Strasbourg. ESF coordinates a variety of efforts including: COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology) which facilitates members of the European scientific community to cooperate on common research projects; the Latsis Prize for outstanding and innovative contributions in a selected field of European research; EUROCORES (European Collaborative Research Scheme) which enables researchers in different European countries to develop collaboration in areas where European scale and scope are required; Research Networking Programmes that allow networking and international collaboration between nationally-funded research groups; and a series of ESF sponsored research conferences.

Mr. Hynes has been the Director of IRCSET since 2002, and previously worked as a senior policy analyst with Forfás and Enterprise Ireland. IRCSET funds early-stage graduate and postgraduate research in Ireland, and runs an Enterprise Partnership Scheme where research is co-funded by the Council and an industry partner. Its annual resources are around €26 million. As reported in an article in today’s Irish Times, IRCSET is due to merge with the Irish Research Council for Humanities and Social Sciences in due course to form a single Irish Research Council.

Irish-Based Pricing Intelligence Startup Profitero wins IBM SmartCamp London

Fresh from having received €750,000 in funding from Enterprise Ireland and the Bank of Ireland Start-Up and Emerging Sectors Equity Fund, managed by Delta Partners, Irish-based pricing intelligence startup Profitero has won the London leg of IBM’s Global Entrepreneur SmartCamp competition.

Profitero beat off competition from four other startups, including Visible Light Communications, a University of Edinburgh LiFi spin-out, to claim the award, which acknowledges startups who are in line with IBM’s Smarter Planet vision.

At the end of a busy week for the company, Volodymyr Pigrukh, CEO and one of Profitero’s three Belarusian founders, took the time out to pause and reflect on the road that brought them to this stage, and their future prospects.

“We provide competitive pricing information to our clients, and clients can make informed pricing decisions”, explains Volodymyr, or Vol.

This pricing information is gleaned from up to thirty million different price points across the globe, a figure expected to at least treble over the coming year.

“We saw that retailers have a problem with basically managing their prices without much external input, and external input is the prices of their competitors.

“Retailers are constantly worried about their competitors; “will they undercut the price, will they steal my customers?” They didn’t have much quantitative input on the pricing, so this is where we saw the potential to jump in as a service.”

Despite having a strong connection with Ireland (co-founder and CTO Dmitry Vysotski spent his early summers here as part of the Chernobyl Children’s Appeal), early on in its development, Profitero was presented with opportunities to move elsewhere.

“We had the choice to stay in Ireland or move elsewhere, for example, London was one of the opportunities, but we decided to stay in Ireland.

“We’ve found a lot of support around here from Enterprise Ireland, from local enterprise boards. Essentially, to open a company was very fast and easy in Ireland.

“We see Ireland increasingly becoming a very good location for startup businesses. It’s startup friendly, it has good access to feasibility grants or other grants from Enterprise Ireland and similar government bodies that support entrepreneurs. So that was the big factor behind us staying in Ireland, and we’re very happy that we did.”

This support has manifested itself in €750,000 in investment, managed by Irish venture capital firm, Delta Partners. Vol says that the company plans to use the majority of the funding to further develop the technology behind the business and ensure top quality support to its customers, which currently includes high-profile retailers such as Tesco and Halford’s.

“Basically, it’s quality assurance, sustainability of the service, tier two support to our large customers, insuring that we deliver perfect service on the contracts that we have already and that we’re going to be receiving in the near future. So it’s expanding from the technical side.”

Also included in Profitero’s roadmap are plans to offer sales impact tracking and price optimisation to retailers, allowing them to make the most of the price information that they receive, combined with data on transactions to develop price suggestions to increase sales.

“Some retailers want to be the cheapest on the market, some of them they want to stay in the middle, but we help them to make this an informed decision, and by providing up-to-date pricing information, they can react quickly to the competitors’ promotions.

“They can plan their own promotions better, they can do price audits across categories of products to make sure that they stay competitive, and that by being competitive they don’t lose customers, and then when there is opportunity to increase the margin, they can increase it and essentially increase their profit straight away.”

As Profitero’s technology is “agnostic”. Vol doesn’t rule out the possibility of branching out into consumer pricing intelligence in the future, but for now the business sector will remain its primary focus.

“We have chosen the B2B area because one of our founders used to be an online retailer and this is the area that we are most familiar with, and basically we see ourselves adding the most value here.”