Renowned Entrepreneurship and Innovation Educator Joins TechInnovate at NUI Galway for 2019-2020 Academic Year

Bernie x2TechInnovate is delighted to announce that entrepreneurship and innovation educator and author Professor W Bernard Carlson will join the National University of Ireland Galway as a lecturer in entrepreneurship. During the academic year 2019-2020, he will split his time between the University of Virginia (UVa) and NUI Galway where he will teach on the MSc programmes in AgInnovation and TechInnovation.

Bernie Carlson is the Joseph L. Vaughan Professor of Humanities at the University of Virginia. He is also Chair of the Department of Engineering and Society and holds appointments in UVa’s History Department as well as the Bjoring Center for Nursing History. Bernie studied history and physics as an undergraduate at Holy Cross College, received his PhD in the history and sociology of science from the University of Pennsylvania, and did his postdoctoral work at the Harvard Business School.

As a historian of technology, Bernie has written widely on inventors as well as on the role of technology in the rise and fall of civilizations. His books include Innovation as a Social Process: Elihu Thomson and the Rise of General Electric, 1870-1900 (Cambridge University Press, 1991) and Technology in World History, 7 volumes (Oxford University Press, 2005). His most recent book, Tesla: Inventor of the Electrical Age (Princeton University Press, 2013) has been translated into nine languages. In 2015, Bernie won the Sally Hacker Prize from the Society for the History of Technology as well as the IEEE’s Middleton Award in Electrical History. In addition to his books, Bernie has filmed 36 lectures on “Understanding the Inventions that Changed the World” for The Great Courses. He is a regular contributor to, writing on innovation and the modern economy.

Bernie directs the Technology Entrepreneurship program in UVa Engineering which helps students and faculty develop ideas into ventures through coursework and co-curricular activities. He has served on several governing boards, including the IEEE History Committee, the Business History Conference, the National Inventors Hall of Fame, and for five years was Executive Secretary for the Society for the History of Technology. Bernie has advised a variety of companies on innovation, and for over a decade, he was a consultant to Corning Incorporated.

Now entering its fourth year, TechInnovate offers two programmes in Entrepreneurship and Innovation at NUI Galway: the full-time MSc in TechInnovation (applications now open), and the distance education/blended learning MSc in AgInnovation (with some government-funded places still available).

ICHEC Launches Ireland’s First Copernicus Hackathon on Earth Observation and Space Entrepreneurship

The Irish Centre for High End Computing (ICHEC) has today announced Ireland’s first Copernicus Hackathon, aimed at promoting the Earth Observation (EO) services sector across the country. The event will take place in NUI Galway from May 10th to May 12th 2019.

Hackathon participants will be challenged to come up with solutions for real-world problems using Copernicus satellite data (Copernicus is the European EO programme), and will compete for a range of awards, including cash prizes. The winners will be offered a place in the Copernicus Accelerator which offers a customised business development scheme for 50 visionary startups and entrepreneurs from Copernicus Participating Countries – EU, Norway and Iceland – every year. A 30-day residency to develop solutions in ESA’s innovation-focussed Φ-lab in Frascati, Italy is another of the prizes on offer.

According to Dr. Jenny Hanafin, Senior Earth Observation Scientist at ICHEC, “the space and EO ecosystem in Ireland has been developing rapidly in recent years and the first National Space Strategy is about to be published, acknowledging that this field has grown significantly. The strategy also establishes the means to support it with further growth.”

53900753_1967970259981008_3907845929218080768_o“In Ireland there is a small but growing EO services sector,” she says. “ICHEC has recently launched its SPÉir platform which aims to make satellite data easily accessible for Irish users, and promotes the use and application of EO and Copernicus data on a national basis. It’s clear that the nation has a high level of the skills required to further develop this sector – our aim is that the proposed hackathon event will help to achieve this.”

The themes for the hackathon contest represent areas where there is already significant expertise in Ireland, or significant need. These include digital agriculture, marine environment and security, unmanned aerial vehicles, energy and power, air quality and sustainable/rural/socially responsible development.

Dr John Breslin, a Principal Investigator at the Confirm SFI Research Centre for Smart Manufacturing and Senior Lecturer at NUI Galway, says the hackathon is an ideal confluence point to bring together those with complementary skills – developers and designers, entrepreneurs and domain experts – to create exciting new applications based on Copernicus EO data and services. “Ultimately, post event, we want to see more EO and space innovation-driven enterprises in Ireland,” he says, “both hardware and software, with application areas ranging from smart manufacturing of new EO/space devices to systems tackling climate change or natural disasters.”

According to Breslin, throughout the hackathon the teams will get the opportunity to test out their initial innovative ideas on others, refine those innovations through a prototype, put a plan in place to take those ideas into a viable commercial proposition, and pitch the entire package to judges.

“It’s important that people who are interested in different aspects of EO/space entrepreneurship attend the event,” he says, “including those who like to hack or make things, like developers and designers, those who like to hustle and drive business, sales and growth, and those who bring the much-needed topic-specific expertise and know-how in EO and space. Remember that a technology innovation is nothing without a customer who wants to pay for it, so it must be a needs-led innovation.”

The overall aims of the hackathon are to raise awareness of commercial opportunities and to generate potential startup, spawn-out or spinout ideas, and where possible provide support pathways to pre-commercial level for successful participants. A more general aim is to highlight the relevance of Copernicus data beyond the space and ICT sectors, through the publicity generated by the event.

“To achieve these aims, we have invited a number of organisations to join us as partners for the event,” says Hanafin. “These partners will allow us to leverage a range of skills that will be important in organising a successful, exciting event, promoting it to the relevant people, and supporting successful participants to take their hackathon ideas to the next level.”

“We are aiming for 50-60 participants to take part, with skills in EO, GIS, thematic areas – like agriculture, marine, drones – data analysis, data visualisation, app development, web service development, graphic design, programming, project management, entrepreneurship and business development. We encourage anyone with any of these skills to register and take part, as it will be an exciting and fulfilling event.”

Alongside ICHEC the event partners include TechInnovate, Baily Labs, the Department of Geography at University College Cork (UCC), the National Centre for Geocomputation at Maynooth University (MU), the National Centre for Marine and Renewable Energy (MaREI), the Office of Public Works (OPW), Teagasc, ESA Φ-lab, ESA Space Solutions Centre Ireland, Údarás na Gaeltachta, and the National Digital Research Centre (NDRC).

The event takes place in NUI Galway from May 10th to May 12th. Registration is now open via the website. For further information, please contact, check out the Facebook event page, or follow on Twitter @CopHackIE.

The Yield Lab Announces the Launch of the Yield Lab Galway

Agri Tech Conference at The Portershed, Galway, IRL. Photograph by David Ruffles

Thad Simons (Managing Director, The Yield Lab) makes the announcement at the Agriculture Technology and Innovation Seminar in the PorterShed (photo by David Ruffles).

The Yield Lab, the United States’ first food and agriculture technology (AgTech) business accelerator, announced the launch of the Yield Lab Galway, in the PorterShed on Friday, 15 July. The Yield Lab Galway is a food and AgTech venture fund and business accelerator, located in Galway, Ireland. The Yield Lab Galway is a significant boost to the investment opportunities available to emerging AgTech and agriculture innovation spinouts and startups from Galway.

The Yield Lab is an early-stage venture fund and business accelerator that invests $100,000 in early-stage food and AgTech startups, provides one-on-one mentorship, free workspace, and networking opportunities supported by agriculture-focused organisations and businesses from the St. Louis region.

Agriculture is a leading industry in the US Midwest, with extensive business connections to the St. Louis region and beyond. The diversity, central location, and solid business community support makes the St. Louis region a leading market for AgTech expansion. St. Louis is a sister city with Galway, which has an emerging and vibrant agriculture innovation system.

“We believe finding innovative solutions to sustainably feed the world’s rapidly growing population is the biggest problem facing humankind today,” said Yield Lab Managing Director Thad Simons. “The launch of the Yield Lab Galway is the appropriate next step and will provide greater access to financial and strategic opportunities for both our St. Louis- and Galway-based investments.”

The Yield Lab Galway has been established on the same building blocks and strategy of sourcing, transacting, and mentoring as the Yield Lab in St. Louis. The fund plans to invest in 8-12 companies over the next two years. Each Galway-based food and AgTech startup will receive up to €100,000 and participate in a twelve-month accelerator program.

Professor Charles Spillane, Head of the Plant & AgriBiosciences Research Centre (PABC) at NUI Galway highlighted that: “The Yield Lab’s establishment of its first European base in Galway is extremely exciting for the translation of agriculture research activities into agriculture innovations and AgTech startup companies. The multi-disciplinary PABC looks forward to collaborating and working closely with the Yield Lab Galway as one of its key investment and startup partners. The sustainable intensification challenges facing the agriculture and food sector in Ireland, and internationally, present opportunities and necessities for the development of disruptive agriculture innovations that the Yield Lab can foster.”

Dr John Breslin, one of the founders of the PorterShed and a PABC Principal Investigator, highlighted significant synergies between the Yield Lab and the NUI Galway AgTechInnovate program which he leads.

He indicated that: “AgTechInnovate is a new Fellowship Programme from NUI Galway which aims to create interdisciplinary teams of technology entrepreneurs (“techpreneurs”) who are embedded in a particular domain for 6-8 weeks to identify real needs, following which they invent, implement and iterate solutions. In the case of AgTechInnovate, this would be in an agricultural environment, with our initial plans to immerse the 2016 AgTechInnovate team in 10 large dairy farms.

“Spinouts emerging from AgTechInnovate will have the opportunity to pitch to the local Yield Lab Galway for investment. The establishment of Yield Lab Galway will further strengthen the agriculture innovation ecosystem in the West of Ireland, which includes the NUI Galway PABC, Teagasc Athenry, Mountbellew Agricultural College, GMIT and agriculture innovators like JFC, Food 360 and McHale.”

“AgTech companies work in a global economy and our goal is to build a bridge to St. Louis for Irish AgTech companies looking for a US footprint,” said Joe Reagan, President & CEO of the St. Louis Regional Chamber. “In St. Louis, we are focused on supporting entrepreneurs and innovators, and our economic development strategies in the 21st Century must be bold and innovative as well.” The St. Louis Regional Chamber has made a founding investment in the Yield Lab Galway from its Spirit of St. Louis Ventures fund, which has previously made founding investments in five early-stage business accelerators as part of a comprehensive strategy to support the formation of early-stage capital and to support entrepreneurs.

Galway was the obvious choice for the Yield Lab to establish a European footprint due to the strong relationship as a sister city with St. Louis. It also offers a number of regional resources such as the multi-disciplinary NUI Galway PABC, GMIT, Teagasc Athenry, Mountbellew Agricultural College and a central location to the vast agricultural production systems of the west of Ireland. Galway has built itself into an entrepreneurial stronghold, boasting a thriving technology park and growing support ecosystem for innovators.

Cultivation Capital has developed a significant interest in agricultural technologies,” said General Partner Rick Holton. “The Yield Lab has provided us with valuable insight into their portfolio companies that has consistently presented Cultivation with the opportunity to capitalize on promising investments. This was the value proposition that led us to invest in St. Louis, and this is why we are investing in Galway.”

“The new Yield Lab partnership enables a two-way street of economic activity between St. Louis and Galway. The growing Yield Lab portfolio in both regions will now have overseas networks to leverage. The Yield Lab Galway portfolio companies will attend a programming session in St. Louis to provide them with opportunities to access US markets and alternative sources of capital, and the Yield Lab St. Louis companies will be encouraged to leverage the resources unique to Galway. This marks a critical milestone for the St. Louis entrepreneurial and economic ecosystem. This bridge of economic activity with Galway should bring further opportunities for St. Louis.” said Sheila Sweeney, CEO of the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership.

NUI Galway Launches Unique TechInnovate Fellowship with Support from Bank of Ireland

Bank of Ireland has been announced as a sponsor of TechInnovate, a new technology entrepreneurship fellowship at NUI Galway. TechInnovate is a unique specialised technology innovation programme at the University, where teams identify real needs in a certain domain and invent/implement solutions. The programme is a 10 month full-time stipend-supported fellowship.

The full-time programme combines teams of high-calibre Fellows from either an engineering, business or design graduate background that aims to align unmet domain needs with a market opportunity. Team members are chosen to contribute their skills, knowledge and expertise as part of a multidisciplinary Fellowship team.

Now recruiting, TechInnovate’s focus is on enabling technology innovators and innovations, by producing more technology entrepreneurs in local startups, as well as more intrapreneurs in established technology companies in the West of Ireland. High-calibre Fellows are recruited to form 2-3 person interdisciplinary teams and participate in an intensive 10-month programme that goes from concept to product.

The programme has been inspired by BioInnovate, a successful medical device technology fellowship that is modelled on the prestigious and internationally-recognised Stanford BioDesign programme.

In parallel to the fellowship programme, the second aspect of TechInnovate involves a series of ten day-long industry training workshops that are offered to industry partners, and that mirrors the TechInnovation process undergone by the full-time Fellows. The aim of this stream is to instil intrapreneurial thinking among staff from participating corporates.

Tracy Keogh, Galway Community Manager at Bank of Ireland, said: “Support for the technology community is one of Bank of Ireland’s pillar activities, and we’ve implemented a number of successful initiatives around this in Galway. We’re delighted to invest further in the creation and growth of tech startups in this thriving community.”

Dr John Breslin, director of TechInnovate, and senior lecturer at NUI Galway, said: “In the West of Ireland, we need more people thinking entrepreneurially and intrapreneurially, and TechInnovate will provide an injection of these people into the tech ecosystem in the region.”

TechInnovate is a joint initiative from the College of Engineering and Informatics and the College of Business, Public Policy and Law at NUI Galway, and is supported by Bank of Ireland, Blackstone LaunchPad at NUI Galway, the Galway University Foundation, NUI Galway, and the Western Development Commission.

Interested fellowship candidates can apply for the TechInnovate fellowship at before 8th April 2016. Candidates in the areas of engineering, information technology, design, law, and business must have completed an undergraduate degree in their area and should hold a postgraduate qualification or have equivalent professional experience.

Ireland’s Talented 38 Technology Women 2015


This post is brought to you in conjunction with the Galway City Innovation District, a non-profit initiative working to develop a downtown innovation district in Galway, attracting creators, innovators and entrepreneurs who wish to work in close proximity to others in a supportive and connected environment. Follow @galwaycity

It’s National Women’s Enterprise Day in Ireland, so there’s no better time than this to publish our 2015 list of Ireland’s technology women, also known as the yearly “Talented 38”. This is the fourth annual list of Irish and Ireland-based technology women, all of whom are driving the ICT, medtech and/or startup scenes in Ireland, the US, and around the world, and shortlisted from a longer list of 83. You can also view our previous lists from 2014, 2013, and 2012.

Ailish Ryan /


Ailish Ryan is the director of (used by 20% of Leaving Certificate and 15% of Junior Certificate students), and more recently (covering GCSE and A-Levels for England and Wales). She is also a director of Ryan and Associates, has worked as a senior fire engineer for a large fire safety engineering practice. Ailish has a Masters in fire safety engineering from Ulster University and a BE in electronic and computer engineering from NUI Galway.

Áine Behan


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Áine Behan is the CEO and co-founder of Cortechs, developing engaging games to make users more relaxed and focused using brainwave technology and neuroscience. She was previously a research lecturer in the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, and has won a number of awards for her research. Áine has a PhD in neuropathology and an MSc in leadership and management development for researchers from RCSI, and a BSc in neuroscience from UCC.

Alice D’Arcy

STEAM Education

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Alice D’Arcy is the course director for STEAM Education, bringing innovative solutions for teaching science, technology, engineering, the arts and maths to young children. She was previously an environmental consultant and green campus facilitator for UCC, and has worked as a facilitator with SUAS, SEI and Animation Space. Alice has a PhD on the sustainability of agrifood systems and a BSc in applied ecology from UCC.

Anne-Marie Farrell



Anne-Marie Farrell is the head of behavioural economics research at Google in San Francisco, with a focus on designing experiences to strengthen Google’s marketing and product strategy. She has worked at Google since 2006 in a variety of roles, including senior strategy and business analytics manager and senior financial analyst, and previously worked in Accenture as a management consultant. Anne-Marie is a past student of NUI Galway, where she graduated with a BE in electronic and computer engineering in 2003.

Avril Copeland


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Avril Copeland is the founder and CEO of TickerFit, a cloud-based application that allows health professionals to provide personalised lifestyle interventions for each patient, based on their current health status. She has won a number of awards for TickerFit, including a National Healthcare Innovation Award in 2015, and is a founding member of Pieta House’s Darkness Into Light 5k walk/run. Avril is a chartered physiotherapist, with degrees in physiotherapy from RCSI and in exercise science from Belmont University.

Caitriona Lynch

C Infinity

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Caitriona Lynch is director of C Infinity, working with startups and larger enterprises to help them choose appropriate SaaS infrastructures and platforms as well as associated support services. She has also worked as a consultant and business advisor with C3 Consultants, as a financial and systems lead for Apple on their global ERP systems and business process reengineering projects (including iTunes), and in various financial roles with Black & Decker and PWC. A co-organiser of the recent Entrepreneurship at Work event at NUI Galway, Caitriona is a qualified chartered accountant with Chartered Accountants Ireland, and holds an MBS in finance and financial management services from UCC.

Caroline Cawley O’Neill


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Caroline Cawley O’Neill is the CEO and board member of ITAG, the Information Technology Association of Galway, whose remit is to promote, strengthen and grow the information technology industry in the West of Ireland. She is also the promoter of ITAG Skillnet, delivering tailored training and learning programmes to over 50 companies involved in the IT sector in the Galway area, and she has a background in HR with senior posts in general management and public relations (Cigna, Business Advantage). Caroline strongly supports the arts, is actively involved in local fundraising for various charities and community projects, and has a qualification in human resource management from GMIT.

Ciara Clancy

Beats Medical

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Ciara Clancy is the CEO of Beats Medical, aiming to revolutionise how people with Parkinson’s are treated, assessed and monitored using technology, with the goal of improving their mobility and independence. She was a finalist at the Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards for Europe in 2015, and was the startup / overall winner for the Dublin region of the Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur Awards in 2014. Ciara has previously worked at Nike, and is a chartered physiotherapist with a BSc in physiotherapy from TCD.

Danielle Mallen


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Danielle Mallen is the co-founder and COO of Acteavo, a B2B reservation and management software solution for tour and activity companies. She is also co-founder of TripClocker, and previously worked as an investment portfolio manager with Bank of Ireland. Danielle has an MA in international relations and a BA from DCU, and is a QFA with the Institute of Banking.

Deirdre Ní Luasaigh


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Deirdre Ní Luasaigh is co-founder and COO of CultureArk, a digital archiving platform for brand archives, creative agencies and cultural heritage organisations. She has previously worked in creative director and graphic design management roles with various companies including Hähnel Industries, EPC Direct and Uppercase. A native Irish speaker from Dún Chaoin in the west of County Kerry, Deirdre has participated in the Enterprise Ireland New Frontiers programme at CIT and in the LaunchPad programme at the NDRC.

Diane Hodnett


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Diane Hodnett is an executive director at AEConnect (part of AquaComms), a new transatlantic subsea fibre optic cable system that connects North America with Europe and joins Ireland at Killala in Mayo. She was previously founder and CEO at Sea Fibre Networks, and before that was director of corporate development and Netherlands country manager at euNetworks. A BComm graduate from UCC, Diane is also a mentor at the synthetic biology axlr8r and on the organising committee of Techies4TempleStreet, a technology community charity event for Temple Street Hospital.

Edel Browne

Free Feet

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Edel Browne is the founder of Free Feet, a multi-award winning medical device designed to treat gait freezing for people with Parkinson’s disease. She is a past participant on the STEMette’s Outbox Incubator in London, a founding member of the Digital Youth Council in Ireland, and a global youth ambassador for AAT (America’s Amazing Teens). Edel is currently studying for a BSc in biotechnology at NUI Galway, and is a past best individual award winner at the BT Young Scientist competition in 2013.

Edel Flynn

Element Property

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Edel Flynn is co-founder and director at Element Property, providing coworking space for startups in Dublin’s city centre. She was previously CEO (and before that COO) of the Digital Hub Development Agency, and has worked as operations manager for Regus’ EMEA business centres, and as head of information for Visit Britain. Edel is chair of Bizworld Ireland, which helps tweens to learn about critical thinking, team work, digital skills and enterprise, and has a BA in international business studies from Sheffield Hallam University.

Emer O’Daly

Love and Robots

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Emer O’Daly is co-founder and CEO of Love and Robots, a design brand that makes unique and customisable 3D products that customers can tweak online for printing on demand. She was previously a lecturer in digital design/emergent technologies at UCD, and worked as an architect at Heneghan Peng, where she coordinated designs on projects such as the Grand Egyptian Museum. With her Love and Robots co-founders, Emer has won a number of startup awards (Spark of Genius, Seedcamp, DCU Ryan Academy Propeller), and she also has a MArch from Yale and a BArch from UCD.

Evelyn O’Toole

Complete Laboratory Solutions

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Evelyn O’Toole is the CEO of Complete Laboratory Solutions, a contract lab that provides microbiological analytics to the pharmaceutical, medtech, food and water industries, and employs over 100 people. Prior to CLS, she managed a laboratory for Gaelic Seafoods, an aquaculture subsidiary in Ireland, and prior to that she worked in the UK as a QA and R&D analyst in Hammer Paints. Evelyn has a diploma in business development from IMI, a diploma in “train the trainer” from NUI Maynooth, a diploma in pollution assessment/control from Sligo IT, and a certificate in applied biology from Athlone IT.

Fiona McCarthy



Fiona McCarthy is executive director HR at Dell, where she has worked for over 17 years, and is also a global HR business partner for Dell. She previously worked at Boston Scientific, AST Computer, Analog Devices and DEC, and is a passionate advocate of young women entering the disciplines of engineering, science and technology. Fiona has an MBA from UL, a postgraduate diploma in computer systems analysis from NUI Galway, and a BA in economics from UCC.

Helen Ryan

Creganna-Tactx Medical

Helen Ryan was CEO of Creganna-Tactx Medical, Ireland’s largest indigenous medical device company and ranked among the world’s top 10 medical device outsource providers, between 2005 and 2013. She is a board member of Enterprise Ireland, and previously worked with Tyco Healthcare (Covidien), Medtronic and CR Bard in product development and R&D functional management roles. Helen has completed a senior executive programme with Stanford University, has an MSc in project management from UL, and a BE from NUI Galway.

Jayne Ronayne


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Jayne Ronayne is co-founder and CEO of KonnectAgain, which aims to reconnect past alumni and institutions together to ensure that institutions receive the most up-to-date information on their alumni. She is co-founder of Graduate Founders with Connor Murphy (encouraging graduates to run a startup), a member of the One/Thousand Network, and co-founder of UrYearBook (also on UCC’s Ignite programme). She has a degree in government, public policy, marketing and management from UCC, where she was also president of their Entrepreneurial and Social Society from 2011 to 2012.

Joanne Dolan

Insight Centre for Data Analytics, DCU


Joanne Dolan is the site general manager at the Insight Centre for Data Analytics in DCU, one of four sites in Ireland’s largest decentralised ICT research institute and funded by Science Foundation Ireland. She also leads Girls Hack Ireland, an initiative which aims to generate knowledge and interest among girls to pursue the academic disciplines of STEM subjects through creative and interactive learning.

Julie Currid


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Julie Currid is co-founder and COO of Initiafy, which helps companies like Domino’s, Pfizer, Adobe, Sodexo and Lidl to manage the initial steps each employee and contractor takes to become part of their team. She previously worked in business development with EazySafe, as territory manager for Loreal, as a marketing and sales manager with Puratos, and as a promotions executive with UTV Media. Julie has a BSc in management and marketing from DIT, was a participant on the Going For Growth programme in 2014, and is interested in technology startups and female entrepreneurship.

Katie Tsouros


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Katie Tsouros is co-founder and CEO of Artfetch, an ecommerce platform that globally selects, curates, and sells emerging contemporary art online. She is an ambassador to the One/Thousand Network, a member of the World Economic Forum Global Shapers, and previously held positions at IMMA, Artwise Curators, Sadie Coles HQ, and the Rubicon Gallery. She has an MA in contemporary art from the Sotheby’s Institute of Art and a BA in art history and philosophy from UCD.

Kim Tighe

HP Galway

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Kim Tighe is a solution lead with HP’s enterprise services division in Galway, where she has worked in a variety of roles over a ten-year period. She previously worked as a solution architect with HP, as a researcher at HP in conjunction with the Digital Enterprise Research Institute at NUI Galway, and as a software engineer at the company. Kim has a first class honours BSc degree in information technology (computer science) from NUI Galway, and is a fundraiser and supporter of children’s cancer charity Hand in Hand West.

Lauren Boyle

European Digital Girl of the Year


Lauren Boyle is the founder of Cool Kids Studio, teaching life skills to kids aged 3 to 12, e.g. what to do on a rainy day (plus maker projects), how to deal with bullies, making friends, healthy eating and meditation. She is also the founder of Cool STEAM Kids, promoting STEM/STEAM/STREAM to 10 to 15 year olds, and she was also named as European Digital Girl of the Year at the European Ada Awards in 2014. As well as being an app and web developer herself, Lauren is a member and mentor with the national/global CoderDojo movement, where she helps teach other kids how to code.

Linda Kiely


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Linda Kiely is co-founder and director of Voxpro, a multilingual business process outsourcing provider set up twenty years ago and headquartered in Cork that now employs nearly 500 people. With Voxpro she has won multiple awards, including Deloitte Best Managed Company and EY EOY Finalist in 2013, and she previously worked in Pageboy Communications and the Department of Foreign Affairs. Linda has qualifications in HR from Coombes HRM, as an accredited strengths practitioner from Libra Coaching, in HR from Cork IT, and in marketing from the College of Commerce.

Lisa Ruttledge

Sen Academy

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Lisa Ruttledge is co-founder and CEO of Sen Academy, whose mission is to improve student understanding, confidence and engagement in mathematics through challenging, self-led activities. She was previously co-founder and director of the Think Academy, worked as an engineering consultant with GE and as an engineer with EirGrid, and has taught at UCD and on KPMG’s Bright Sparks programme. A winner of the Impact Series Minnovation Award (best social idea to change Ireland) from Social Entrepreneurs Ireland/JP Morgan in 2014, Lisa has a PhD and BE in electrical/electronic engineering from UCD.

Louise O’Sullivan


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Louise O’Sullivan is the founder and CEO of Anam Technologies, a leading provider of innovative and intelligent mobile messaging security solutions. She previously worked at Logica as leader of their service delivery business in the UK, and before that as project manager for Aldiscon’s short message service centre implementations. Louise gained her initial training in business from the internationally recognised Shannon School of Hotel Management.

Mairéad Ní Mhaoilchiaráin

Irish TV

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Mairéad Ní Mhaoilchiaráin is founder and managing director of Irish TV, connecting Irish communities and businesses worldwide through its satellite and online video offerings that are targetted at the Irish disapora. She previously worked as CEO of Gnó Mhaigh Eo and director of Mayo Media Productions, in advertising roles at the Irish Times and the Irish Echo newspapers, and in journalism roles with RTÉ and Foinse. She is a graduate of the entrepreneur’s programme at GMIT, and studied for a BA and higher diploma in applied communications (ard-dioplóma i gcumarsáid fheidhmeach) at NUI Galway.

Martina Skelly


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Martina Skelly is co-founder and CEO of YellowSchedule, a cloud-based appointment management and client CRM tool for the mental health sector, with customers including GoDaddy and GoodLife Fitness. She was previously the owner and operator of, and has worked in variety of online marketing roles with Activate Marketing, Digino Marketing, and the Mercer Accommodation Group. Martina was winner of the Women in Business Award at the Vodafone Startup Awards in 2013, and has a diploma in international sales from DIT and a BSc in software/design/multimedia from Plymouth University.

Mary Carty

Outbox Incubator

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Mary Carty is co-founder of the STEMette’s Outbox Incubator, the first STEM-focused incubator for girls under 22, provide seed funding, mentorship and support to those who have innovative STEM business ideas. A board member of the Irish Internet Association, she was previously CEO of online agency Spoiltchild, co-founder of email marketing platform Toddle, and before that county arts officer for Meath County Council. Mary has lectured widely on business development and entrepreneurship in universities and colleges across Europe, and has an advanced diploma and MA from Ulster University, and a BA and diploma in fine art.

Mary Moloney

CoderDojo Foundation

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Mary Moloney is the global CEO of the CoderDojo Foundation, responsible for CoderDojo’s operations and growth worldwide, with 800 coding clubs in 60 countries reaching 40,000 kids and young people 7 and 17. She was previously a partner at Accenture, where she filled managing director, CEO, COO and talent/HR director roles within Accenture and for international financial/professional services and high-tech clients. Mary is active in various business organisations, including board of director roles for the Dublin Fringe Festival and the European Professional Women’s Network, and she is a law graduate from TCD.

Norah Patten

International Space University

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Norah Patten is an adjunct faculty member and co-chair of the space humanities department in the International Space University’s space studies programme. She previously worked as a composite materials researcher at the Irish Centre for Composites Research at UL, a lecturer in engineering at UL, and in engineering roles at Alcatel-Lucent and Boeing. Norah is the Irish national contact point for the Space Generation Advisory Council, and has a PhD in aeronautical engineering and a BE in aerospace, aeronautical and astronautical engineering from UL.

Patricia Scanlon

SoapBox Labs

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Patricia Scanlon is founder and CEO of SoapBox Labs, developing a speech technology-based assessment and personalised learning platform for young children learning to read or learning a language. She has held research positions with Bell Labs Alcatel-Lucent (working with businesses and collaborators to design and develop innovative products), the IBM TJ Watson Research Centre, and Columbia University in New York. Patricia has a PhD in electronic engineering/digital signal processing from UCD (on feature analysis for audio and visual speech recognition), and a BScEng in electronic/electrical engineering from DIT.

Rhona Togher

Restored Hearing

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Rhona Togher is co-founder and CEO of Restored Hearing, creators of the “Sound Relief” streaming online sound therapy to alleviate tinnitus or ringing in the ears, and the forthcoming “Sound Bounce” responsive hearing protection headset. The original idea for Restored Hearing emerged from a project that she and co-founder/CTO Eimear O’Carroll entered for the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition in 2009. In charge of the logistics and manufacturing side of Restored Hearing and now based in Westmoreland Street (having come through Wayra and NovaUCD), Rhona graduated with a BSc in physics from UCD in 2013.

Sinéad Kenny

DiaNia Technologies

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Sinéad Kenny is founder and CEO of DiaNia Technologies, a medical device materials technology company based on NUI Galway’s campus focusing on a series of products incorporating built-on components while maintaining a low profile so that they are easy to fit into the anatomy. She was previously a design engineer with Creganna for nearly eight years, a healthcare consultant with Altran, a lecturer in polymers and materials at UL and LIT respectively, and has worked on regulatory affairs with Cook Medical. Sinéad has received funding under the SME Instrument of Horizon 2020, and she has an MSc in project management, a PhD in biomedical cements, and a BE in materials science from UL.

Siobhán Ní Chofaigh

Mint Tek Circuits

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Siobhán Ní Chofaigh is the founder and CEO of Mint Tek Circuits, whose aim is provide an online marketplace for hardware developers building prototypes to make it faster, easier and cheaper for them to source their hardware needs. She is also a part-time European projects coordinator for the “Startup Scaleup” internet of things accelerator at the DCU Ryan Academy, and has worked in a variety of operational and business development roles at Noni Lifestyle, Beta Layout, Sanmina, Infineon, Betatherm and Bemitech. Siobhán is a passionate about teaching kids how to design and build hardware using a PCB and components (through Hardie Kids), and she has an MBA from UCD and a diploma in electronic engineering from DIT.

Sonya Lennon


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Sonya Lennon is co-founder of Frockadvisor, a social commerce platform for independent fashion retailers that has received a number of awards including an Irish Times FUSION Award in 2013 and an Arthur Guinness Fund Award in 2012. She is also the founder of Dress for Success Dublin, is a board member of the Crafts Council of Ireland, and presented the television show “Off the Rails” for seven years on RTÉ. Sonya’s work with Frockadvisor has been recognised by Astia, a global community dedicated to the success of women-led, high-growth ventures, and the company has been supported by Enterprise Ireland HPSU, NDRC LaunchPad, and Wayra.

Tanya Duncan



Tanya Duncan is the managing director of Interxion, a Dublin-based cloud and carrier-neutral data centres company, where she has held a number of positions before becoming MD in 2005. She is vice chair of the Telecommunications and Internet Federation outsourcing services industry group in IBEC, and began her career in the telecommunications sector with roles at Esat BT and KPNQwest. Tanya has qualified in business administration and management from IMI, has a graduate diploma in business studies from DBS, and has a BA in mechanical and manufacturing engineering from TCD.

Tara van Zyl


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Tara van Zyl is the founder and CEO of seamless, a platform offering the film and television industry a private and secure solution for real-time approvals, notifications, and communication. She released the iCostume app in 2013 for tracking costume continuity on film sets, and has worked in the film industry for over 20 years on a variety of projects including Game of Thrones and Ridley Scott’s Prometheus. Tara has won various awards, including first prize for the Bell Labs IPMashup in 2015 and winner of NDRC Female Founders in 2014, and has qualifications in digital marketing, web design, and fashion technique and design.

This post is brought to you in conjunction with the Galway City Innovation District, a non-profit initiative working to develop a downtown innovation district in Galway, attracting creators, innovators and entrepreneurs who wish to work in close proximity to others in a supportive and connected environment. Follow @galwaycity

Galway Medtech Map: Ireland’s Medical Device Cluster

Galway has a vibrant ecosystem of medical technology startups, multinationals and research centres that in total employs in the region of 8,333 people. Based on the popularity of our recent Galway Tech Map which showed the concentration of ICT companies in Galway City and County, we’ve decided to produce a medtech version to complement it and to highlight the medical device cluster in Galway.

Here is the first version of a Galway Medtech Map that shows the growing medtech ecosystem in Galway, Ireland. If your organisation isn’t on the map, you can download a copy and create your own version as we have released it under a CC By Attribution Share Alike license.

The Galway Medtech Map is available in a variety of formats: PDF A0/A1/A2/A3/A4/A5 for posters and printouts, PDF, PNG, bigger PNG.

(Edit: SVG, EPS and AI versions are available here.)

Feel free to share via social media and use in your presentation decks. If you wish to make a suggestion for next year’s version, just email with the subject “Galway Medtech Map”.

Some interesting facts about Galway’s medical sector are given below, courtesy of the Galway Dashboard from Galway City and Galway County Councils, who commissioned the Whitaker Institute at NUI Galway to undertake an economic baseline study to support the development of an economic plan for the city and county. You can download their full medical sector overview from their website.

  • Galway employs one third of the country’s 25,000 medical device employees and the West accounts for 39% of regional distribution of medical device employees.
  • There is a significant cluster of medical device companies with Medtronic and Boston Scientific being the largest MNC employers.
  • Boston Scientific Ireland Ltd employs 2,800 individuals and Medtronic Vascular Galway Ltd. employs 1,882 individuals.
  • The medical device cluster in Galway occurs through university-industry linkages, a continuous development of a skilled labour pool, international reputation through the success of Boston Scientific and Medtronic, the growth of supplier firms and knowledge transfers establishing new startups.
  • The medical device companies within this cluster are supported by such organisations as Enterprise Ireland, IDA Ireland, Údarás na Gaeltachta, Local Enterprise Office Galway, GMIT and NUI Galway.
  • Galway has become recognised for its specialisation in coronary devices.
  • The Department of Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering has given rise to an average of 22 graduates per year since 2003.
  • A BioInnovate team recruited in Galway, focusing on cardiovascular disease, identified the need for a vascular support device and technology to improve vascular embolism.
  • REMEDI has recently received €47 million in funding grants for pioneering research initiatives for 36 research projects involving over 200 researchers.
  • GMedTech has obtained over €3.5 million worth of funding for an applied biomedical research project and has developed three cardiovascular type simulators for assessing heart attacks, stroke and aortic aneurysms.

A full map of the medical technology sector in Ireland is also available from the Irish Medical Devices Association.

Missing the BMW i3! Final Thoughts on @MyElectricDrive…


I was one of the fortunate few to be chosen as an ESB ecars ambassador for the 2014/2015 Great Electric Drive, during which I trialled the BMW i3 electric vehicle (EV) over a four-month period. Since we are now at the end of the ambassador programme, I thought I would update and repost an interview I did for BMW Magazine towards the end of my trial.

Explain your involvement in the ESB ecars “Great Electric Drive” scheme?

In February last year, my wife Josephine sent me on a link to the ESB’s “Great Electric Drive” call for EV ambassadors, as she thought that being a lecturer in electronic engineering at NUI Galway and an all-around gadget freak would make me an ideal candidate. The Great Electric Drive runs a yearly scheme whereby a team of ambassadors from all around Ireland trial an EV.

I put in my application, citing my interest in EVs and my social media reach, and was one of about 30 lucky ambassadors selected from over 20,000 applications!

How did you find the BMW i3?

The i3 is a pleasure to drive – from that first experience of the silent and speedy take off, and then being able to actually hear the music in the car as you drive along, to the nice feeling of pulling in at home without having had to fume up at the petrol pump.

What has been your initial impression of the BMW i3?

I’m amazed by how technologically-advanced it is: EVs have come a long way since the early electric cars of the 1880s! It’s fascinating as an electronic engineer to observe such a convergence of technologies in the i3: high-voltage batteries, mobile devices, internet connectivity, regenerative braking, remote control apps, multimedia storage, voice recognition, rapid charging, touch-sensitive input mechanisms, sensor information systems, and more.

When I was in the US in October, I was able to load up the “BMW i Remote” app on my phone to see where the car was parked, monitor its state of charge, and even remotely turn on the air conditioning when I touched down in Shannon Airport. The smartphone app can also also show you the range you can drive the EV to in all directions, using its current location and the roads nearby. You can also send it a destination from your phone or laptop, which will instantly appear in the navigation system. It won’t drive you there just yet, but the parallel parking assistant gives you an idea of what is possible and the way things are going in the future.

What are the most noticeable differences when driving an EV, as opposed to an internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle?

I’ve noted that there is a general perception that electric cars are slow, and that they must take a while to get going. In fact, the opposite is true – I’ve never driven a car that is so responsive, and when you go back to an ICE (internal combustion engine) car, it can feel very sluggish in comparison. The BMW i3 delivers 250 Nm of torque, which powers it to go from 0 to 100 km/h in about 7 or 8 seconds. The top speed is about 150 km/h (on a German autobahn!). It’s fast.

What made you initially consider driving an EV?

I am passionate about EVs, and frequently tweet out stories about EV’s expansion across the US, Europe and now Asia.

In 2013, I rented an EV [Leaf] under the Drive Electric Orlando pilot car rental scheme, where I drove from Orlando to the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida. Drive Electric Orlando offers cheaper car rental, free valet parking and free charging around the Orlando area, so it was a good opportunity to try out EV driving for longer than just a test drive.

Does driving an EV impact your decisions on what journeys you can take?

If you’re travelling about 20 to 30 km to work daily, then there is very little change to your journey apart from plugging the EV in and out. I now have a charge point installed at home, and I used to plug in the EV every one or two days depending on how low the battery was. It normally takes between three and five hours to bring the battery back up to full, but if it is fully depleted it could take longer (an overnight job).

If you’re going across country, you will probably need to factor in charge times and stopping points, but you get used to it quickly and build up some favourite waypoints.

My home charge point is an AC charger, the same as the majority of the public charge points around the country, but the public fast charge points have a much higher power output – 22 kW as opposed to the 3.6 kW I have at home – and can therefore charge faster (as low as one or two hours in some cases). Then there are the rapid chargers which can charge up compatible EVs in just 30 minutes…

Do you suffer from “Range Anxiety”?

The i3 does a good job of showing you charging points along your routes, so once I had planned my journey there usually weren’t any issues. I’m the kind of person who drives with the empty fuel tank warning light perpetually on, so maybe I don’t suffer from range anxiety as much as others!

I’ve found that the ‘pure electric’ range of the i3 is about 130 km, but that may be increased by 20 km or so if you enable either ECO PRO or ECO PRO+ mode (which limits speed and optimises ‘coasting’), or may be decreased through more aggressive driving (like any car). Also, advances in battery technology mean that this range is increasing yearly as future EV development continues. The BMW eight-year warranty on the battery is a great endorsement of its expected lifespan, as I know a common question is will the battery stay effective.

Would you recommend a BMW i3 to others?

I already have. A colleague of mine was interested in buying one and went for a test drive with me recently, and I’ve given spins to countless colleagues at NUI Galway, students, startup founders, multinational CEOs, local tech leaders and random others who have all been entranced by the drive. It’s been fun to watch the faces of my passengers when the car silently pulls away, and also when the park assistant does its thing!

What has been the biggest benefit of driving a BMW i3?

Apart from the cost benefits and instant response, there is a great feeling of situational awareness and safety that is part of the Connected Drive experience. The i3 has a mobile data connection built into the car that makes it possible for rescue services to be dispatched to your GPS location if an accident occurs and an airbag deploys, or if you manually pull an SOS switch above the rear-view mirror. Real-time traffic information is displayed via a red/yellow/green (slow-moving/medium/fast) line beside the road on the navigation system, using data obtained from the mobile network, smartphone apps, vehicle fleets and police reports.

Can you give an indication of the fuel savings that you have made while driving the BMW i3?

My petrol car was costing me about €10 per 100 km. I do about 1300 km per month, which is about €130 per month on an ICE. The equivalent cost for the BMW i3 (if I was just charging at home; sometimes I charged at the public charge points) would be about €42, so that’s a saving of €90 per month straight away before considering cheaper road tax, service costs, etc.

How much does a full charge cost?

At present, charging at Irish public charge points is free, so you simply swipe a card provided by ESB ecars to charge up. The BMW i3’s battery capacity is roughly 20 kilowatt-hours, which means that at a cost of just under 20 cents per kilowatt-hour it costs less than €4 to charge on a home charger.

Estimates are that it costs about €3.25 to drive 100 kilometres, and this compares to about €10 for my ICE (€1.50 per litre here in Ireland, at seven litres per 100 km). Bear in mind that if you have night-rate electricity installed at home, this would be even cheaper (half price).

Was the addition of the REx a useful option?

The range extender – a small 650cc motorcycle engine whose sole function is to provide additional electric power – is a great option to have. This can add an additional 100 km to the range (giving a total of 230 km or more). Since it is about 200 km from Galway (where I work) to our capital Dublin, this makes it possible to do the full journey in ECO PRO mode, or to have a quick stop along the way at one of the rapid chargers if driving in COMFORT mode.

The i3 I had did trips from Dublin to Galway, Galway to Limerick, and Limerick to Dublin on a single electric charge with the range extender kicking in to complete the journey (its nine-litre tank costs about €13.50 to fill). If you’re going any further than 230 km, you’ll probably want to charge up somewhere along the way.

Some of the i3 EVs (including the one I was driving) have the rapid charge option, which means you can charge to at least 80% in around 20 to 30 minutes (using the CCS-type DC rapid charger). I live in Connemara, so on my Dublin to home trip, I charged up in Kilbeggan for 30 minutes to make sure I’d have enough “epower” to get me home.

How sophisticated is the public charging infrastructure?

In Ireland, you might be surprised to hear that we now have over 1200 public charge points between Northern Ireland and the Republic, or one for every 5333 people. That’s actually pretty high, because the top state in the US in terms of electric vehicle infrastructure, California, has one charge point for about every 7500 people. Texas, the state with the second highest number of public charging points in the US, has one for every 16500 people.

Also, the ESB have rolled out nearly 70 DC rapid chargers around the country (30 minute charge time). There are two types here, CHAdeMO and CCS (BMW), but they are now installing dual-type DC rapid chargers too.

Would you swap from an ICE vehicle to an EV permanently?

Yes. My main limitation is that we have six in our extended family, so I still need an MPV for our cross-country trips. I’d love to change our second daily commuter car to an EV.

Has driving this EV had any impact on your family?

It turned my kids and I into show offs! We loved showing off the i3 and all its features at school drop offs and at work.

I also listened to more music during my few months with the EV than at any time over the past eight years, thanks to the 20 GB built-in hard drive which had a good chunk of my music collection on it (2000 tracks, I rotated to new ones once a month).

What has been the reaction to the car by friends, colleagues, the general public?

The car itself changes perceptions of EVs because the BMW i3 looks fantastic. During the few months that I had it, there were many, many pictures taken of it and with it. The opposing coach doors and lack of central pillars (because of the carbon fibre reinforced body) are very eye catching.

I even saw someone recording a video of the i3 from the car following behind me as I drove home one day. I had never driven a BMW before the i3, but I did notice special interest from those who are driving BMWs or own BMWs, looking to see who is this newest member of the family and to find out what are the resemblances to the cars they drive and love.

Bill McDaniel, a Star in the Semantic Cosmos, Winks Out but Shines On

It is with deep regret that I learned this week of the passing of my good friend, colleague and StreamGlider co-founder, Bill McDaniel. Bill was, among many other things, a Semantic Web innovator and serial entrepreneur who co-founded a multitude of companies, shipped more than 70 products, and co-authored seven books and many more publications during his career.

I first met Bill McDaniel at the International Semantic Web Conference (ISWC), held in Galway in 2005. Bill was working as a senior research scientist at Adobe at that time. By chance, I happened to be seated across from Bill and another colleague of his from Adobe at the conference dinner, and I mentioned to them both that there were some job opportunities for researchers at DERI in NUI Galway that could be of interest. It turned out to be an opportune time for him to pursue a new challenge, as Bill joined DERI soon afterwards as a project executive in the eLearning Research Cluster.

Those who knew Bill through his Semantic Web work may be unaware of his long and varied career in information technology, with CEO, CTO and CRO roles in diverse areas such as electronic printing, wireless demand chain management, wireless retail loyalty, advanced 2D bar coding, AI-based military logistics, and of course semantically-powered mobile applications.

His career in IT stretches back nearly 40 years to 1975 when he worked as an operations programmer and manager with NCH Corp (at the time, saving the company $1M a year in order processing costs). He then joined Image Sciences in the 1980s as an R&D director, responsible for their $20M flagship product DocuMerge. From then into the 1990s he was CTO and co-owner of GenText, sold to Xenos for $12M in 1998.

Ever the entrepreneur, Bill established the first internet café in North Texas, as well as a digital recording studio. He worked with DCM Solutions, COPI and Optimus Corp in CTO roles in the early 2000s (having sold another of his own companies, GenX, to COPI in between times). He then joined Adobe as a senior scientist in 2004, where he worked in the Office of Technology and later led the Advanced Publishing Technology Group there, researching the semantic processing of documents and automatic metadata extraction. As part of his work, Bill was also the Adobe representative on the W3C Semantic Web Best Practices Group.

Bill moved to Galway in 2006, joining the Digital Enterprise Research Institute (now part of the Insight Centre for Data Analytics) at the National University of Ireland Galway. At DERI, he designed various semantic eLearning platforms and managed a large team creating semantic software. He went on in 2009 to form and lead the Applied Innovations Unit, set up to commercialise software at DERI. It was Bill along with Liam Ó Móráin at DERI who helped me acquire my first research grant through this unit. In 2010, he spun out three more companies: NKA-Decker (with Stefan Decker), SemantiFace, and SemantiStar.

Bill left DERI towards the end of 2010 and returned to Texas. We shared a common interest in science fiction: when Bill left Galway I gave him a signed Harlan Ellison book, and we often discussed the sci-fi greats and steampunk when we weren’t talking about the Semantic Web or StreamGlider in later years. (Bill also once wrote a treatise on ‘The Infiltration of Buffy into the Real World’, examining the dissemination of Buffy-speak into discursive spaces, as well as ‘Semantic Reasoning and the Buffy Paradigm’, looking at how semantic technologies could aid in making critical decisions in uncertain and unpredictable environments.)

In early 2011 along with Nova Spivack, we co-founded StreamGlider Inc., a real-time streaming newsreader app for the iPad. This was a real distributed project team, with members spread out across the US, Ireland and Russia. Bill was the CEO of StreamGlider, and we continued to work together on this project over the intervening years right up until his passing last week.

I last met Bill in hospital exactly one month ago today – on the 10th of October 2014 – when I was in Dallas for a meeting. Despite his increasingly difficult situation, he remained pragmatic and I would say even positive for the future, as we discussed various software and hardware integration problems and ideas for future research projects that he wanted to work on.

As a science fiction geek like Bill, I wonder what would have happened if we hadn’t been seated across the table from each other at that conference dinner nine years ago yesterday. In a parallel universe, perhaps another person would have sat in my place and told him about the job opportunities at DERI, or maybe something else would have drawn him to Galway (perhaps the fact that Buffy character Angel was born in the Claddagh!), and our paths would have crossed anyway.

All I know is that I am glad things worked out as they did, as many of our lives would have been much the poorer for not knowing him. As well as helping many of us in the past, his influence will continue to be felt long into our future.

You can also read Bill’s obituary and/or leave a message on the guestbook. Our thoughts go out to Bill’s wife Linda and son Ian, and all his family and friends.

Video Review of the BMW i3 Electric Car

You can read more about John Breslin’s experiences of using an electric car on a daily basis at the Technology Voice website:

The Six Questions I’ve Been Most Frequently Asked About ecars and the BMW i3

From the 19th Century Electric Car to an Internet of Electric Vehicles

The main video was shot entirely on an iPhone 5s in and around Galway City, Ireland.

John Breslin is a senior lecturer and researcher at NUI Galway, and co-founder of, Ireland’s largest online community. @johnbreslin

The Six Questions I’ve Been Most Frequently Asked About ecars and the BMW i3

In my last post, I gave a little bit of context to my Great Electric Drive by talking about the history of electric cars and where things are going in the future (with an Internet of Electric Vehicles). I’ve been driving the BMW i3 for about a month now, so I thought it was about time that I gathered together a set of the questions that I am asked most frequently – there are six! Some of my answers relate to the i3 but also to ecars in general…

How far does the ecar go?

For the BMW i3 I am driving, the ‘pure electric’ range is about 130 km, but that may be increased by 20 km or so if you enable either ECO PRO or ECO PRO+ mode (which limits speed and optimises ‘coasting’), or may be decreased through more aggressive driving (like any car). I say ‘pure electric’ because the model I have also includes what BMW calls a range extender, which is a small 650cc motorcycle engine whose sole function is to charge the battery when it is nearly depleted. This can add an additional 100 km to the range (giving a total of 230 km or more). Also, advances in battery technology mean that this range will increase as future ecar development continues.

Is it fast?

For some reason, I’ve noted that there is a general perception that electric cars are slow, and that they must take a while to get going. In fact, the opposite is true – I’ve never driven a car that is so responsive, and when you go back to an ICE (internal combustion engine) car, it can feel very sluggish in comparison. The BMW i3 delivers 250 Nm of torque, which powers it to go from 0 to 100 km/h in about 7 or 8 seconds. The top speed is about 150 km/h (on a German autobahn!). It’s fast.

How much does it cost to buy?

On the road, after availing of a €5000 SEAI grant and another €5000 in VRT relief, the BMW i3 (without a range extender) costs about €34000. Being a premium marque, the BMW i3 costs more than its compatriots, but considering the next-generation lightweight carbon fibre materials used and the amount of electrical and electronic technology that they’ve packed into it, it compares well. It also has an eight-year battery warranty. (The Nissan Leaf is about €10000 less.)

How long does it take to charge?

I now have a charge point installed at home, and I usually plug in the ecar every one or two days depending on how low the battery is. It normally takes between three and five hours to bring the battery back up to full, but if it is fully depleted it could take a bit longer (an overnight job). My home charge point is an AC charger, the same as the majority of the public charge points around the country, but public charge points have a much higher power output – 22 kW as opposed to the 3.6 kW I have at home – and can therefore charge faster (as low as one or two hours in some cases). Also, the ESB have rolled out 67 DC fast chargers around the country, which can charge up compatible ecars in just 30 minutes. There are two types here: CHAdeMO and CCS, but they are now also installing dual-type DC fast chargers. If you’re really stuck, there is a backup option of a cable with a three-pin plug, but these are not really recommended and can take about 33% longer to charge.

How much does it cost to charge it?

At present, charging at public charge points is free, so you simply swipe a card provided by ESB ecars to charge up. The BMW i3’s battery capacity is roughly 20 kilowatt-hours, which means that at a cost of just under 20 cents per kilowatt-hour it costs less than €4 to charge on a home charger. Estimates are that it costs about €3.25 to drive 100 kilometres, and this compares to about €9 for an ICE (€1.50 per litre, at six litres per 100 km). Bear in mind that if you have night-rate electricity installed at home, this would be even cheaper.

Can you drive cross country in it?

The ecar I have has done trips from Dublin to Galway, Galway to Limerick, and Limerick to Dublin on a single electric charge with the range extender kicking in to complete the journey (its nine-litre tank takes about €13.50 to fill). But if you’re going any further than that, you’ll need to charge up. I live in Connemara, so on my Dublin to home trip, I charged up in Enfield for an hour to make sure I’d have enough to get me home. Some of the i3 ecars have a fast charge option, which means you can charge to at least 80% in around 20 to 30 minutes (using a CCS-type DC fast charger). This will be great for me when I go to Dublin next because there are CCS-type DC fast chargers in Ballinasloe and Kilbeggan (here’s a handy map from the ESB of all the CCS-type chargers in Ireland).

Apart from the answers to the questions I’m asked, the physical ecar itself changes perceptions because the BMW i3 looks fantastic. During the past few weeks that I’ve had it, there have been many, many pictures taken of it and with it. The opposing coach doors and lack of central pillars (because of the carbon fibre reinforced body) are very eye catching, and I’ve even seen someone recording a video of the i3 from the car following behind me as I drove home one day (it was the passenger you’ll be glad to hear).

The good news is that you don’t need to follow me around with a camera phone to find out how I am getting on with the ecar. We will be recording a video shortly where I will give you a full tour of the i3, and you can also follow my adventures on Twitter @myelectricdrive.