Maciej Dabrowski: Start-ups Key to Galway’s AI Growth

This article was originally published on and has been republished here with permission.

Maciej Dabrowski, Chief Data Scientist, Digital and AI at Genesys, took time to sit down with the PorterShed blog recently. Maciej has been with Genesys for four-and-a-half years. Before that, he was with Altocloud for four years. So, it’s safe to say that Maciej is a fount of knowledge in his field, and he took time to speak with us about how to create a great product, Galway’s role in the development of AI, and what he sees as the future of the technology.

It’s fair to say that artificial intelligence is dominating many conversations in the start-up and broader tech worlds today. At the recent Dublin Tech Summit, there were more than a few panels discussing the current developments as well as a few others that pondered the future of AI, too. With Genesys’ AI headquarters in Galway, it’s clear that the City of Tribes has a key role to play in what that industry becomes. 

From Maciej’s point of view, “strong universities and access to world-class engineering talent” are two of the big reasons that Genesys chose Galway as their AI centre.

“The AI ecosystem in Galway is steadily growing, we do have good universities here that give us access to engineering talent and an exceptional quality of life. What we don’t have in comparison to larger cities is access to a strong  pool of local, senior AI technical talent who have “seen it all” over a long career in AI.” Maciej adds. “In the past, I would say there were not that many AI jobs in Galway – there was Genesys and a handful of other companies working on AI to some degree. Now there are many more opportunities for finding AI jobs in the West”.

Maciej also makes the point that Galway has good engineers that are transitioning into AI, something that is working really well to fill that senior talent gap. For him, the West of Ireland has an abundance of world-class engineering talent on all levels, and with an increasing number of companies working on AI, many engineers will pick up AI skills and transition into core AI. He points to NUIG’s degree to help with this transition and makes the point that Genesys are providing the opportunities to make that switch – with success.

And there is another big positive that Maciej sees, something that Galway can do, in particular:

“If I were to pick one of the things we can do really, really well that will boost the ecosystem, it would be the start-ups. We have a relatively small but critical mass that is working on that, and one of the best ways to grow the AI ecosystem is to develop start-ups that get acquired by a big company and then start building around it. “If that start-up happens to do AI, then that’s obviously an anchor to build around them. So, one of the things we can do is to get more AI start-ups rooted in Galway because that will pull in the AI talent, engineers, new companies, and more resources into our AI ecosystem.”

Maciej Dabrowski

When it comes to exactly what AI can do for people and the wider world, our conversation veers towards the idea of what is best, what is useful, and whether AI always needs to follow either one of these paths.

“We should not approach AI as a magical, all-capable solution to the most-pressing World problems out of the box – it’s not, at least, not yet” Maciej explains, adding that there are lots of studies about how and why AI companies fail when they lack focus on the suitable use case that is feasible and can deliver value. What it all comes down to in most cases, he says, is value generation that depends on the focus on applying AI to the right use case, and access to talent that can solve it using available data and technology.

For Maciej, the best way to attract talented people is to create products that solve problems – big or small.

From Genesys’ perspective, artificial intelligence is all about making things easier for customers and users. Because while AI can sometimes have the cachet of being futuristic and otherworldly, Maciej makes the point that it needs to be understood by those who are using it – and getting the benefit from it.

“We want to make AI accessible and simple. There are a bunch of things that underline that, such as transparency and privacy, for example. Fundamentally, what we’re trying to do is build AI into the products that people use and don’t require advanced degrees to operate them. So, we have to explain what AI does, how it does it, in a way that people understand it and trust it enough to use it.”

Maciej gives an example of a product they launched last year which they ultimately redesigned to be uber simple. The predictive routing software applies AI to connect customers with the most suitable agents, finding areas in the call center that can be optimized. Businesses can identify the areas they can create value with AI within a matter of a few simple clicks. Essentially, queues which would benefit from optimization can be identified and targeted leading to better customer experience and business results. It’s certainly an everyday AI win that, on the face of it at least, is accessible and easy to understand. 

For Maciej, AI is a means to an end. He points to Genesys’ predictive routing as the ideal showcase of why that should be the focus. “In most cases It’s not really about the AI technology (algorithm) itself, it’s more about how you apply it to create value, how you make it simple, how you embed it, and how it improves people’s daily lives and makes them better.”

Carol Ho, COO of Baseworx, on the Rise of Co-working Spaces

This article was originally published on and has been republished here with permission.

Carol Ho is the Chief Operating Officer of Baseworx, a company that helps hubs to better manage their co-working spaces. Their easy-to-use software means that hub managers can seamlessly oversee the day-to-day operations from their own devices. All across Ireland, the hubs on the platform benefit from Baseworx’s solution – helping many of them to thrive as places where professionals from many locations can come to work and connect with the wider world.

The hub network across Ireland is key to the government’s initiative to make it easier for professionals to work remotely in a variety of locations. The push to have spaces available to work from has been catalysed by Covid and the shifting dynamics of the future of work. In Ireland, it has been encouraging to see so many new hubs opening up in recent times. However, as Carol explains, coworking has long been an existing option in other countries – and the landscape is very evolved elsewhere.

“You can see so many co-working spaces in a tiny city like Hong Kong – it’s super-competitive if you’re running a co-working space over there. They have their own territories. Over there, if you’re talking about social innovation, you go to Good Lab. If you are tech-focused, you go to Science Park. If you are a maker, you go to MakerBay. They have different themes and focuses for different hubs over there,” Carol says.

A quick look on will show you that there are over 230 hubs open across the country at the time of writing – that’s quite an impressive number, and while we still have a way to go to catch up with countries like Hong Kong, it’s encouraging to see such a high number.

So, why is it that so many people are pursuing the co-working experience?

“Of course, working from home is still okay, but I do get more stuff done when I’m working in the PorterShed,” Carol explains. So, productivity is clearly a big factor in why people are ditching the kitchen table for the purpose-built desk.

But there’s another factor behind the rise of co-working spaces.

“Lots of big companies are getting rid of the office. If you’re running a business, you probably rent your own office somewhere else. But right now, a lot of big corporates have started to rent desks in the co-working space because it’s handy – they save time, they save the maintenance, and they reduce cost,” Carol says.

Carol Ho, COO of Baseworx

In addition, people view co-working spaces as a way to reconnect with the real world. Many professionals are still re-emerging back into office life, and some are still looking for ways to do so gradually. For many people, co-working spaces offer a chance to do exactly this. Ultimately, co-working spaces provide the sweet spot between traditional offices and remote working. Worldwide, too, that trend is clear – a recent newsletter from The Hustle explains that analysts are predicting approximately 42,000 coworking spaces globally in 2024, an increase of 116 percent when compared to 2020.

As Carol explains, these hubs are having a positive knock-on effect around the country.

“We see the benefits of Connected Hubs – it’s definitely supporting the development of the countryside of Ireland, bringing the jobs, and helping to boost the economy of the countryside areas.”

The website, which is managed by Baseworx, is clearly in high demand, and Carol explains that they have big plans in store for the site in the near future – both in Ireland and internationally.

“We are launching version two of Connected Hubs, so that’s one of our flagship projects that we’re working on at the moment. Right now, we are pretty much focused on the Connected Hubs projects because it’s such an important government initiative. I’m spending lots of time talking to many of the hub managers to get their feedback on the software to understand what features they want to get.

“We are taking in some interns from Limerick and Cork – graduate students from some of the colleges there. So, we are doing a summer internship programme and spending some time training the students up. And they will help us with some of the international market research. Because apart from Ireland, we are looking at some other countries to see if other countries could have the same model.”

Back home, the focus of course is on continuing to help hubs harness the power of the Connected Hubs platform through the Baseworx software.

A lot of talk continues to centre around the future of work and what it will look like in the next five to 10 years. An important topic of conversation, for sure, but what does Carol think about the future of co-working? Will we see even further revitalisation of rural areas in Ireland in the near future?

“I just think that probably we will have more young families moving back to the countryside area and that way they won’t need to stay in the city with the high living expenses and all that. But it will take a while. Right now the government is trying to build loads of infrastructure to support that, but it will take some time,” the Baseworx COO said.

In the meantime, your local hub awaits with high-speed broadband, coffee, and the facilities needed to get work done, no matter where you are. The future can wait, for now.

“I feel supported” – Yurko Turskiy, Advisable Developer

This article was originally published on and has been republished here with permission.

Yurko Turskiy, a frontend developer working for Advisable sat down with Trevor Murray to talk about leaving his home country of Ukraine, starting a new life with his girlfriend on the west coast of Ireland, and what it means to have arrived in Galway in the midst of trouble in his homeland…

For Yurko, who originally hails from the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, it was important that he got a job working with an international team where he could speak English – and Advisable gave him that opportunity, having helped him submit a work permit visa that allows him to live and work in Ireland. Yurko has a background in graphic design but ultimately decided to get involved in development. He also explains that he “loves” working for Advisable, and is keen to contribute everything he can to develop a seamless and attractive website for their users.

Advisable is a business that aims to help companies complete diverse tasks and projects. Led by their CEO Peter O’ Malley, they essentially make it easier for their clients to discover the talent and community base needed to complete all sorts of workstreams. They also facilitate the process whereby freelancers can get their work noticed by the right people. 

Currently based in the PorterShed where he works as part of a collaborative team, Yurko is now living with his girlfriend Kate in Galway. Kate herself is a PhD Chemistry student who is now doing her studies remotely, continuing to deliver lectures and work in the early hours of the morning. Kate is also studying Python and hopes to become a data scientist in the near future.

While Yurko and Kate have done their utmost to keep up some semblance of a normal life, doing so has certainly been an unprecedented challenge, to say the very least. In fact, Yurko arrived in Galway just a few days before the Russian invasion of Ukraine escalated. It had always been his plan to move to another country – but Ireland was an unexpected eventual destination.

Yurko Turskiy, frontend developer with Advisable, pictured working in the PorterShed

“Eventually, I arrived here on the 13th of February, and 11 days later the full-scale war started with Russia. I’m saying full-scale war because we were in the war for eight years – that was a slow war, but now we have a full-scale war,” Yurko explained.

Uprooting to begin again has been a decision millions of people have made throughout history for a myriad of reasons, and Yurko now counts himself as one of those people. The opportunity provided by Advisable was a big enticement to come to Ireland for a new adventure, but the outbreak of a full war made Yurko’s relocation more problematic – and dramatic. Moving was not a decision Yurko took lightly either. Yurko’s girlfriend Kate was still in Ukraine at the time his work permit came through, moving briefly to Poland for temporary shelter because of the war. Initially, Kate’s plan was to move to the States, but they decided that being together in Ireland was the best idea. Yurko had to wait for his other half to join, and the wait for both was an anxious one.

“The whole situation was horrible. The feeling of war was in the air. It was very scary, to be honest.

“It was really stressful. For the first week, the muscles in my neck were in tension. I had headaches, though headaches are not [usually] my problem. I wasn’t able to eat. I had to force myself to eat once per day. I lost some weight even though I’m skinny. It was hard to smile and communicate with people – especially with Irish people because they are all the time friendly and they smile!”

Yurko had to force himself to learn how to adjust to leaving behind the life he had before and jump into the new one he is now creating. After weeks of intolerable anxiety and worry, he’s now socializing, smiling, and getting to know the people around Galway. Indeed, the safety net of his new home has helped and Yurko’s impression of Galway – and Ireland – is a positive one. 

“It’s an amazing place. I like it.

“For me it was a sign that the western world understands those risks. The whole world understands. That we got the full support of everyone, it was really amazing. On the first day of the full-scale invasion, I found news that Ireland waived visas, and it was really impressive that Ireland were aware of what they needed to do and how to support.

“I feel supported a lot,” he says, adding that Kate feels the same way owing to the many Ukrainians they see being helped in Ireland.

Back home, Yurko still has family, friends, and loved ones that he regularly stays in touch with, and although he has moved to Galway, he remains tethered to his homeland.

“I call them on Telegram.

“Most of my family are in Kyiv – my mom, my brother, my sister, my sister’s husband. My sister has three small kids. They decided to stay there because they were not sure if it was safe to go west.

“My grandma is living between Kyiv region and Zhytomyr region; it was really dangerous there, so I was really worrying about the situation with her, but she’s fine now.”

For Yurko, the current situation in Ukraine is something he is looking to alleviate as much as he can from his base in Ireland. He’s sending as much support and aid as he can to comfort those back home – and he’s constantly in touch with them when he’s not working. And while the present is unfortunately negative beyond much compare, Yurko tells me that he believes Ukraine will come through this dark time – and his people will return.

“When Ukraine wins, hopefully, I could come back to visit my family and friends,” he says.

After all, Yurko knows that there is so much more that he can achieve for his country from Ireland.

“I had a really big desire to go there in the first days. I was almost ready to drop everything and fly back, but my relatives and my family they told me not to do that, because I am completely useless there!

“My possibilities here are much bigger, and I can do much more being here than there.”

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


Twitter | LinkedIn

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

Twitter | LinkedIn

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


Twitter | LinkedIn

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.