Ireland’s Talented 38 Technology Women 2014

It’s that time of year again where we bring you our third annual list of 38 talented Irish and Ireland-based technology women, all of whom are driving the tech and/or startup scenes in Ireland, the US, and around the world. (See also our lists from 2013 and 2012.) Let’s get started!

Alana James


LinkedIn | Twitter @DoctoralNet

E. Alana James is the founder and CEO of DoctoralNet, a multimedia delivery system for PhD students that personalises the learning experience so that they can complete their research and dissertations. She was previously a consulting professor at the Colorado Technical University, and holds a Doctorate in Education (web-based technologies) from the Teachers College of Columbia University. Based in Cork, Alana is also the author of three books from Sage Publishing on action research and successful dissertation writing, and has received five faculty excellence awards from JIU.

Amber Brown

Upfront Analytics


Amber Brown is the founder and product/strategy lead at Upfront Analytics, a company that delivers timely market intelligence by mining responses from specially designed game play in mobile apps. She has worked as a senior research scientist at Walt Disney, running a large research group for the company that leveraged technology to positively affect consumer behaviour (and the bottom line). Upfront Analytics is based in Dublin, and Amber also holds qualifications in Music and Maths, Organisational Behaviour and Development, City and Regional Planning, and Experimental Psychology.

Andreea Wade


LinkedIn | Twitter @brandalisms

Andreea Wade is the founder of Brandalism, a startup strategy and product development agency, and also the founder of AskATon, a series of female-friendly events focused on entrepreneurship. She lectured on digital product management at Digital Skills Academy, mentored for NDRC, Wayra and New Frontiers, organised major concerts and festivals, and founded a national music magazine. Andreea is an organiser of the Dublin Startup Weekend, co-organiser of the Creative Mornings Dublin breakfast series, and a member of the Women in Technology and Science (WITS) executive team.

Ann O’Dea

Silicon Republic

LinkedIn | Twitter @AnnODeaSR

Ann O’Dea is the CEO, co-founder and editor-at-large of Silicon Republic, Ireland’s top online tech publisher, and creator of their Women Invent campaign that promotes the role of women in STEM. With interests in leadership, management and entrepreneurship, she was co-founder and director of Business and Leadership Ltd. and editor-in-chief of the Irish Director magazine they published. Ann is a member of the Institute of Directors in Ireland as well as a fellow of the Marketing Institute of Ireland, and holds a both a Bachelor of Arts and a Masters of Arts from University College Dublin.

Anna Scally


LinkedIn | Twitter @annascally_kpmg

Anna Scally is a tax partner and head of KPMG’s Technology, Media and Telecoms practice, and she also leads their Centre of Excellence for Emerging Technology Companies and Innovative Startups. She has worked for KPMG since 2000, and has served as a member of the Innovation Taskforce (and its implementation group) and on the board for the American Chamber of Commerce in Ireland. Anna has spoken and participated at many tech events including F.ounders, the Web Summit and START San Francisco, and has a BComm in Commerce and Accounting from University College Dublin.

Brenda O’Connell


LinkedIn | Twitter @BrendaOConnell

Brenda O’Connell is the director and head of business development for Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) at microblogging giant Twitter, where she has worked since the beginning of 2014. Previously, she was the director of partnerships and head of business development for Jolicloud, an OS oriented at users of cloud-based services, and was the director of music product dev at Orange. Brenda has also brought the Coder Dojo movement to Paris, as founder of the group there, and has both a Masters and Bachelors in European Studies from the College of Europe and UL respectively.

Carolan Lennon



Carolan Lennon is the managing director of eircom’s wholesale segment, in charge of the division that provides and supports other telecommunications operators with access to the eircom network. She was previously the chief commercial officer for eircom’s consumer and small business segment for nearly three years, and has worked at Vodafone as consumer director and marketing director. Carolan is on the boards of the Irish Management Institute and Idiro Tech, and has an MBA from Trinity College Dublin as well as a degree in Information Technology from University College Dublin.

Caroline Dowling



Caroline Dowling is the president of integrated network solutions at Flextronics, a large electronics design, fabrication, assembly, and test company with more than 200,000 employees worldwide. She has worked in various president-level roles at Flextronics since 2000, including their NOVO, retail and services divisions, and was previously a vice president at Dii Group (acquired by Flextronics). Based in San Jose and Cork, Caroline is also co-inventor and patent holder for a supply chain management system that aggregates global enterprise data and displays KPIs in a dashboard manager.

Catherine Egan


LinkedIn | Twitter @teabags18

Catherine Egan is head of operations at FanFootage, a crowdsourced concert footage system that replaces fan-recorded audio with high-quality audio to create better fan videos of live music concerts. She was previously PR and social media manager for, and has worked at Magnum Events, Daft, the St. Patrick’s Festival, the Theatre Forum, and the National Campaign for the Arts. Catherine holds both a Masters in Public Relations from the Dublin Institute of Technology and a BA in English, Political Science and Sociology from the National University of Ireland Galway.

Deirdre O’Leary


LinkedIn | Twitter @IDMEwristbands

Deirdre O’Leary is founder of IDME, an ID wristband for kids who are separated from their parents/guardians, which recently won a Nimbus Centre prize to connect IDME with the Internet of Things. She has received a US business development award from the Cork Foundation and a bursary from the Cork Chamber of Commerce for IDME, and also appeared as a contestant on RTÉ’s Dragons’ Den. Based at Cork Institute of Technology’s Rubicon Centre, Deirdre has over 20 years’ experience working in the sales and recruitment industry, and studied Mathematics and Computer Science at CIT.

Elaine Coughlan

Atlantic Bridge Capital

LinkedIn | Twitter @coughlanelaine

Elaine Coughlan is co-founder and general partner at Atlantic Bridge Capital, a $450M growth equity fund focused on technology investments with offices in Dublin, London, Silicon Valley and China. She was previously co-founder of GloNav, sold to NXP for $110 million, CFO for Parthus, VP of finance and group controller for Iona Technologies, and a senior audit manager for Ernst and Young. Elaine is on the board of Enterprise Ireland, is a director of and investor in FieldAware, Swrve and Sophia, and has qualifications in Corporate Governance, Company Direction, and Accountancy.

Elaine Reynolds


LinkedIn | Twitter @Elaine_Reynolds

Elaine Reynolds is CEO and founder of Simteractive, a developer of casual, free-to-play games for tablets and smartphones that allow players to design, create and manage their own simulated worlds. She was previously a game designer at Lionhead Studios, working on titles such as Fable: The Journey, Fable 3, Milo and Kate, and also developed games for Traveller’s Tales and Star Cave Studios. A past participant on Enterprise Ireland’s iGAP programme, Elaine has an MSc in Computer Games Tech from Abertay Dundee, a HDip in Computer Science from UCD, and a BA in Psychology from TCD.

Fidelma Healy



Fidelma Healy is the COO at the international headquarters of Gilt Groupe in Dublin, one of the leading online fashion and travel retailers in the US which was established just seven years ago. She has worked for a variety of financial, software and ICT firms in director roles, including Postbank Ireland, Standard Life, Cognotec, Novell Ireland Software, Friends First, and System Dynamics. Fidelma also holds both a HDip in Education and a BA in Psychology and Irish from University College Dublin, but retrained in computing and HR after discovering a scarcity in teaching positions.

Fidelma Russo


LinkedIn | Twitter @FidelmaRusso

Fidelma Russo is a senior vice president in the Enterprise Storage Division at EMC, enabling businesses and service providers to transform their operations and deliver IT as a service through the cloud. She has held a series of senior leadership roles, including COO of Sepaton, SVP and general manager for network storage and software at Sun Microsystems, and before that again she was a VP at EMC. A board member of the US National Center for Women and Information Technology, Fidelma holds a Masters in Computer Science from Boston University and a BE in Electrical Engineering from UCC.

Fionnuala Healy

Gotcha Ninjas

LinkedIn | Twitter @fionnualahealy

Fionnuala Healy is the co-founder and CTO of Gotcha Ninjas, a cloud-based social learning rewards platform that encourages positive behaviour, motivates students, and engages parents. She is also the managing director of Garavogue Consulting, a boutique IT and telecoms consultancy, and has worked in technical roles for Capgemini, Hutchinson Whampoa, Ericsson and Sun. She is a Privacy by Design Ambassador for the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario, a member of the IEEE, IET and ICS, and holds an MBA, Masters in IT and BE in Telecommunications.

Jenny Brennan

Virtual Office Worx

LinkedIn | Twitter @VOfficeworx

Jenny Brennan is the founder of Virtual Office Worx, providing social media marketing management, bookkeeping, and virtual assistant services to many companies since its inception in 2011. She worked as a social media manager with Team BDS, was event coordinator for the Irish Executives Summit, and held positions at companies including Canada Life, Finavera Renewables and Eventive. Jenny is a past winner of the JCI Mayo outstanding young businessperson award and of the Network Mayo Business Woman of the Year, and she also holds a BA in Tourism and Business from the DBS.

Jill Holtz

Clear Bookings

LinkedIn | Twitter @jill_holtz

Jill Holtz is the founder of ClearBookings, an online private-labeled event ticketing service, and of, an online site for parents in Ireland where they can find and book local kids events. She has consulted and lectured in strategy at the National University of Ireland Galway, and held positions as an analyst with Metis Solutions, Quadstone, RBS Advanta, Oscar Faber TPA and British Gas. She received the Diageo / IMI Sir Charles Harvey Award for outstanding academic achievement while doing her MBA at NUI Galway, and holds an MSc in Operational Research and a BSc in Mathematics.

Julie Cullen

Neelie Kroes Young Advisor

LinkedIn | Twitter @cullej29

Julie Cullen is one of EU Vice President Neelie Kroes’ young advisors, where 24 young people from around Europe were selected to advise the Commissioner on all things digital and technology-related. She also serves as the Irish ambassador for EU Code Week, and is an English, German and European Studies teacher in Drogheda where she is also regularly involved in CoderDojo Drogheda events. Julie holds an MSc in Education/Elearning and Management from Dublin City University, and a BA in English, German and Philosophy from University College Dublin (Erasmus at the University of Trier).

Kathleen McMahon


LinkedIn | Twitter @KatieMc___

Kathleen McMahon is vice president and general manager at SoundHound, a music search and discovery service that allows users to hum, sing or play a track, and that now has over 200 million users. Prior to SoundHound, she was VP for business development at Shazam, was founder and CEO of Westport, worked for Japan Communications Inc., and also for Hibernia Capital Partners in Dublin. She is on the board of directors for wireless charging company uBeam and the board of trustees for Lawrenceville School, and has a BA in Political and Social Thought from the University of Virginia.

Kathryn O’Donoghue



Kathryn O’Donoghue is the director of ads policy operations for Europe, the Middle East and Africa with Google, where she has previously worked as a director for insights and senior manager for ads. She has held positions including CIO for GE Money South West Europe, having worked at GE from 1997 to 2008, and as a senior manager in IT consulting at both Ernst and Young and PWC. Kathryn was listed by the Women Executive’s Network (WXN) as one of Ireland’s top 25 most powerful women in 2013, and she holds a BA in Economics and Sociology from Trinity College Dublin.

Lynsey Duncan


LinkedIn | Twitter @Lynsey_Duncan

Lynsey Duncan is a senior user experience (UX) and service design consultant based in Dublin, whose specialities include workshop facilitation, design research, usability and service design. She worked as lead UX designer at web services company iQ Content for almost four years, and prior to that held usability analyst and insights designer positions at Orange and live|work respectively. Also a speaker at IxDA Dublin events, Lynsey holds an MSc in Business Development and Innovation from the University of Ulster, and a BSc in Innovative Product Design from the University of Dundee.

Mairtini Ni Dhomhnaill

Accretive Solutions


Mairtini Ni Dhomhnaill is senior vice president for national business outsourcing at Accretive Solutions, where she works with venture-backed startup companies in a consulting CFO capacity. She has consulted with Asana, Airtime, Big Switch Networks, Causes, Path, Quora and Facebook, and is a board member for the Joint Venture Silicon Valley Network and the Cleantech Open accelerator. Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, Mairtini holds a Fellow Chartered Certified Accountant qualification from the ACCA and graduated from Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology in Business Studies.

Margaret Molloy


LinkedIn | Twitter @MargaretMolloy

Margaret Molloy is CMO for Siegel+Gale, a leading strategic branding firm, where she heads up global marketing, sales and business development using a combination of analytical and creative skills. She has been listed by Forbes as one of the top five most influential CMOs on Twitter and as a must-follow marketing mind, and has been recognised by Irish America magazine in their top 100. An advisory board member for Sightsavers International and a board member for the IIBN, Margaret also holds an MBA from Harvard and a BA in Business and Spanish from the University of Ulster.

Niamh Bushnell

Dublin Commissioner for Startups

LinkedIn | Twitter @NiamhBushnell

Niamh Bushnell is the Dublin Commissioner for Startups, a new position which has been privately funded though the Ryan Family and Dublin City University’s Ryan Academy for Entrepreneurs. She recently worked as an entrepreneur in residence at Talent Tech Labs in Manhattan, is CEO and co-founder of the IDIRUS mentor-matching solution, and was also co-founder of An angel investor at the Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator, as well as a member of the strategic advisory board for Rising Tide Capital, Niamh also has an International Business Degree from UL.

Niamh Shaw

To Space

LinkedIn | Twitter @niamhiepoos

Niamh Shaw is an artist in residence at Cork Institute of Technology and Blackrock Castle Observatory where she is focused on making a new lecture performance piece about space for SFI and ESERO. She regularly contributes to popular science and technology-related topics on national media, and has spoken at TEDxUCD, the Space Expo in TCD, and the Festival of Curiosity with Dara Ó Briain. A member of Engineers Ireland and one of their STEPS/Smart Futures volunteers, Niamh holds a PhD in Food Science, and a Masters and BE in Biosystems Engineering from University College Dublin.

Rosheen McGuckian



Rosheen McGuckian is the chief executive officer of NTR, a leading investor in renewable wind/solar energy internationally, that began life by developing and operating road infrastructure in Ireland. She has worked as group director at NTR, as CEO of Greenstar, as CEO of GE Money Ireland, as director of communications for GE Consumer Finance Europe, and as head of strategic change at the ESB. Rosheen received a PhD in change management from Dublin City University in 2000, holds a Masters from the same university, and graduated with a Bachelors in Science from Trinity College Dublin.

Sadhbh McCarthy

Centre for Irish and European Security


Sadhbh McCarthy is director of the Centre for Irish and European Security, which carries out EU- and private-funded research into the implications and societal impact of security policy and technology. She is a strong advocate of women in technology, was chairperson of Women in Technology and Science (WITS), and has also been involved in the European Platform of Women Scientists (EPWS). Sadhbh worked as a consultant in the public services and infrastructure domain for five years, also worked for IBM as a project manager for four years, and is a graduate of University College Dublin.

Sandra Maguire


LinkedIn | Twitter @SandraMaguire

Sandra Maguire is the managing director of EduBills, an online payment and ordering system that allows parents to pay school bills (directly into school’s accounts) and order school supplies securely. She is founder and organiser of CoderDojo Dun Laoghaire, and worked as an administrator with NCB Stockbrokers, Davy Stockbrokers, US Trust (on Wall Street), and Ulster Bank Dublin Trust Company. Sandra was a participant in DIT’s Hothouse, where she also completed a Postgraduate Diploma in New Business Development, and she has a qualification in cyberpsychology from Dun Laoghaire IADT.

Sarah Bourke


Twitter @Skytek11

Sarah Bourke is the chief executive of Skytek, creator of several software applications that assist astronauts in controlling and managing emergency situations on board the International Space Station. In 2014, Skytek announced that it was launching a new weather division to monitor solar storms, and has also developed tools for aircraft maintenance, security and emergency response industries. Sarah founded Skytek with CTO Paul Kiernan in 1997, and supported by Enterprise Ireland they developed technology that was part of an ISS payload in the Space Shuttle Discovery STS-114 mission.

Shannon Duffy


LinkedIn | Twitter @sullytoduffy

Shannon Duffy is the head of marketing for direct response products at Facebook, where her specialities include marketing strategy, corporate communications, lead generation and nurturing. She was previously VP for global marketing at, having worked as director of marketing at Jigsaw (later, bought by and as director of marketing at SourceForge. Shannon was recognised as a Marketing MVP in the fourth quarter of the 2013 FY, has a PR certification, and holds a BA in Communications from Boston College.

Sinead O’Sullivan

Georgia Tech

LinkedIn | Twitter @SineadOS1

Sinead O’Sullivan is an aerospace engineer at the Aerospace Systems Design Laboratory of Georgia Institute of Technology, where she is also a project manager at NASA’s Marshall Spaceflight Center. She also serves as co-lead on Space Technologies for Disaster Management for the Space Generation Advisory Council, and has worked at Danske Bank in Ireland and at Morgan Stanley in New York. Sinead studied internet access provision and environmental monitoring via microsatellites at the International Space University, and graduated in Aerospace Engineering from Queen’s University Belfast.

Susan Gallagher

One Fab Day

LinkedIn | Twitter @susangallagher

Susan Gallagher is co-founder of One Fab Day, a leading wedding media brand in Ireland, and is an entrepreneur and web technologies expert with ten years of multinational and startup experience. She previously spent five years as a software engineer with IBM, developing cutting-edge web tools for their Rational, WebSphere and Lotus Workspace brands, with a strong focus on user experience. Susan received the highest academic achievement award for her BA in Design and Interior Architecture from Griffith College Dublin, and has a first class honours BSc in Computer Science from DCU.

Susan McKenna-Lawlor

Space Technology Ireland


Susan McKenna-Lawlor is founder and managing director of Space Technology Ireland Ltd., an Irish-based provider of instrumentation systems for space experiments by the ESA, NASA and Russia. She developed instruments to monitor the Martian solar wind on the ESA’s Mars Express mission, and is also an emeritus professor in the Department of Experimental Physics at Maynooth University. She received an honorary Doctor of Science (DSc) degree for her significant contribution to astrophysics from the University of Ulster, and was also elected to the International Academy of Astronautics.

Sylvia Leatham

Engineers Ireland

LinkedIn | Twitter @SylviaLeatham

Sylvia Leatham is coordinator of STEPS at Engineers Ireland, a non-profit programme that promotes science, engineering technology and maths (STEM) careers to primary and second-level students. A co-founder of popular Irish science podcast Scibernia, she was previously editor and director of operations at, and was also a content editor and writer for Intrade and Rondomondo. An avid fan of online and social media as well as a science journalist with extensive writing, editing and marketing expertise, Sylvia also holds an honours BA degree from University College Dublin.

Tara Dalrymple

Mission Possible

LinkedIn | Twitter @Missionpossirl

Tara Dalrymple is the founder of Mission Possible, a reward and recognition SAAS platform which works with companies to improve and enhance their health and wellness offering to employees. She is also founder of Busy Lizzie, providing pay-as-you-go secretarial services, virtual personal assistants, appointment management and digital marketing to small businesses with lesser resources. She has worked with Marks and Spencer, Lepus, Financial Dynamics, Dorling Kindersley and Staniforth PR, and holds a BA in Human Geography and Business IT from the University of Gloucestershire.

Triona O’Connell

Science is Delicious

LinkedIn | Twitter @triploidtree

Triona O’Connell is a PhD researcher in bioanalytical methodology and technology at Dublin City University, and also writes the Science is Delicious blog (where science meets cooking and baking). She is an active member of the TOG hackerspace in Dublin (teaching LaTeX, squishy circuits, and more) and the Irish Linux User Group (acting as chairperson in 2013), and is a contributor to Scibernia. Triona has a MSc in Biomedical Diagnostics from DCU and a BSc in Biomedical Science from DIT and CIT, and interned during her courses at Arrow Generics, Medipure and Cork University Hospital.

Vanessa Liston


LinkedIn | Twitter @listonv

Vanessa Liston is co-founder of CiviQ, a startup focusing on providing opinion knowledge and conflict management tools to local governments, the public sector, social organisations and industry. She has worked in a variety of research and development roles at Trinity College Dublin, General Electric Global eXchange Services, Cambridge Technology Partners, Accenture, and GOAL Ireland. With interests in democratic theory, the Social Web and emerging technologies for enabling innovations in political systems, Vanessa has a PhD, MSc (Multimedia Systems) and BSc (Music) from TCD.

Vicky Twomey-Lee


LinkedIn | Twitter @whykay

Vicky Twomey-Lee is the founder of EventGeekie, advocating community spirit and diversity in tech by running workshops and events, and providing event management services for tech groups. She is also co-organiser of PyCon Ireland, PyLadies Dublin, Python Ireland, the GameCraft Foundation, Coding Grace, and is a board member of the EuroPython Society and Python Software Foundation. She has worked as a researcher at the Science Gallery, an engineer at Propylon, a senior engineer at Sun Microsystems, and has an MSc in Multimedia from DCU and a BSc in Computer Systems from UL.

You can also view our previous lists of Ireland’s Talented 38 Technology Women from 2013 and 2012.

Savvy Bears: Secure Online Gaming for Children

Savvy Bear is a virtual world for children between the ages of five and twelve years old to play, interact, and learn, in a safe environment. The Dunboyne, Co. Meath-based company was founded in 2010 by father of three John Joyce, who saw a gap in the market for a virtual world that was both educational, and crucially, safe for children to play in.

“I was watching what they were doing on the likes of Disney’s Club Penguin and Moshi Monsters and I said, “I think I could actually develop a product like this.”

John, who is a graduate of computer science from Trinity College, Dublin had seventeen years’ experience in the technology sector before looking at the virtual world space and deciding, “right, I’ll give it a go.”

“I set the company up last July/August and that’s kind of how it started, just from a concept in my head to saying, “OK let’s give this thing a go”, and that’s what happened.”

John is aware that Savvy Bear are not alone in this space, but feels that his product’s educational value, and its safety, set it apart from the rest.

“The unique selling point is that we have an educational part to our product, so there is a school in the game if the child wants to go into the virtual world school, and learn Irish, English, maths, geography, history and science.”

The Irish, maths, and English educational modules on Savvy Bear are all free, as well as optional; if a child wants to simply play or interact, they may do so. The virtual world’s chat function contains only pre-selected words and phrases that a child may choose from, such as “hello”, “thank you”, or “you are funny!”, which ensure that the chat remains innocent and cannot be hijacked by Internet prowlers.

“Our product is 100% safe, continues John. The other games like Moshi Monsters, Club Penguin and Panfu, they have an open chat policy where you can potentially chat to the child. We don’t, we just have pre-selected words in the game, so we’re 100% safe, which is crucial for a parent. We’ve a little bit of education in it, but it’s great fun, and it’s ad-free.”

The educational aspect of the game is pitched very much as an option and part of the fun, rather than the sole focus of the game, so from the child’s perspective he or she is playing at school rather than attending it or doing homework. Also, any phrases which are chosen in English are translated on the dashboard in Irish as an added educational aid.

John readily acknowledges that it is remarkable to think that he has created a virtual world for children from as young as five years old.

“I’m 39 years of age, this stuff didn’t exist when I was growing up. If you look at a twelve year old child or a ten year old child with a phone and they’re twittering and they’re maybe doing something on Facebook. You can’t turn it off, it’s just there, it’s 24/7.”

With digital devices and worlds so commonplace, it is hardly surprising that the uptake of Savvy Bear amongst children has been high so far. The game has taken on a certain momentum; an appearance on the Irish Dragon’s Den secured some valuable publicity; but Savvy Bear’s growth until now has been achieved without any marketing budget.

“We’ve been going since January and we’ve just over 30,000 people on it (15,000 of which are regular, active users), and it’s been played in 102 countries. It’s just taken off, which is fantastic, you know?”

In anticipation of this growth, Savvy Bear have updated their software to cope with increased demand; behind the cuddly teddy bears, there is a back-end which has to cope with potentially thousands of visitors at any one time.

“What the user sees at the front-end is probably the easiest part, the art and animation. The hardest process in that was listening to a child describe it, or they might sketch out a hair salon and say, “this is what we’d like in a hair salon.”

“At the moment we’re using five or six pieces of software, so we have Flash, php, Gimp, Ubuntu, and we’ve a piece of software that we’ve invested in recently called Smartbox, which Facebook use and allows us to handle thousands of people per second, which is a big issue for any virtual world.”

John laments the fact that he had to locate Savvy Bear’s servers outside Ireland due to what he sees as a “sad” lack of broadband infrastructure.

“The reason we have the servers over in London is because the broadband is a lot better and you get 100% up time, whereas unfortunately, in Ireland you can only guarantee 99% up time, and with a virtual world the last thing you want is to be down.

“When you’re using things like Google Analytics and you’re looking at my market which is the whole world, and you look at the size of Ireland, it’s a little dot. And you think, “why can’t people access the game in Roscommon?” It’s because there’s no broadband there.”

John hopes that the initial growth he has seen will continue and is confident the market is there for Savvy Bear to achieve this.

“I’ve had lots of people say that there’s loads of people in the gaming space, and I say, “that’s correct”. Gaming is massive, but there’s no-one in Ireland or England at the moment developing a virtual world forchildren between five and twelve. We’re it.”

Naoise Nunn talks about Mindfield

Mindfield is an international festival of ideas organised by Naoise Nunn who is originally from Kilkenny but now lives in Oranmore, Galway. The most recent event took place in Merrion Square, Dublin and had more than 5,000 visitors over the May Bank Holiday weekend.

Mindfield has four main themes or areas; culture, technology, politics and inspiration. As Naoise explains, “It is about having the big public conversation about where we are at and where we are going and so on. The common thread is that the people are expressing ideas, coming up with ideas, trying to innovate, trying to get us out of the bind that we are in.”

The genesis of Mindfield began with a political cabaret that Naiose runs called Leviathan and is modeled on the Hay Festival of Literature and Arts in Hay-on-Wye, Wales and the TED talk series.

He set Leviathan up in 2003 as a very informal, interactive debate combined with entertainment. in the form of satire, film and comedy. Three years later he was invited to go down to the Electric Picnic and do Leviathan at the festival in a tent.

“Obviously, Leviathan is just one show and we ended up programming the tent for the weekend. The next year we had two tents. The year after that it was eight. Mindfield developed into being a festival within a festival — a spoken word forum for ideas and so on.”

Naoise had been thinking for some time about spinning Mindfield out on its own and make it an urban festival in a park. He says that he could not have picked a better location.

“Here we are in Merrion Square, right in the centre of the City. At one end you have the parliament, you’ve got the Arts Council, you’ve got the Goethe institute, you’ve got the Institute of Architects. There’s also Oscar Wilde’s house and the American College. It is the cultural hub of Dublin and of the country so it is the ideal location for it.”

Based on the success of this event, Naoise says, there will definitely be a Mindfield international festival of ideas taking place next year.

You can also view a video report which highlights the participation of the hackerspaces of Ireland at the Mindfield event and has an interview with Jane Ni Dhulchaointigh, the inventor of Sugru.

Loc8 Code: Navigating Ireland with Greater Accuracy

After four years of development Loc8 Code was launched in Ireland in July, 2010. The product was developed as PON Code (position orientated navigation code) by Gary Delaney of GPS Ireland. For two of those four years Garmin provided devices for field testing the technology and later they went on to licence the product from Loc8 Code.

In 2006 Garmin released their first SatNavs in this country with detailed mapping. Up until 2006 there were satnavs for Ireland but they only had main roads on them. Navtech, which is owned by Nokia, had spent five years driving around Ireland making the sort of detailed maps that take advantage of satellite navigation (satnav) capabilities.

At that point in time Ordinance Survey maps didn’t capture road attribute data such as; how many lanes the road has, what surface the road has, what speed limit the road has, whether two roads that cross on a map are actually intersecting, i.e., you can get from one to the other and so on.

A satnav not only looks at a road but all the information associated with a road to make a decision about routing

GPS Ireland specializes in the professional use of GPS products for surveyors and other people in need of accurate mapping tools. Utility companies which made up some of its customer base appreciated the advantages of the satnav systems but were confounded by the addressing system used in Ireland. 40% of the addresses in Ireland are non-unique. None of these addresses can be regarded as a precise location.

Gary explains further, “That prompted us to start investigating how to come up with a solution that was usable. When we started off with this we had no intention of replacing a post code because as a piece of modern technology a post code is a bit of a dead duck.

“A post code identifies a cluster of houses so you can group bits of mail in a bundle with an elastic band, give it to a postman and let the postman find the actual door itself. That was a technology that was invented in the sixties.

“Mail as a business is a diminishing industry. If you are going to invent something you don’t want to do it for diminishing industry. Our aim was to develop technology for couriers, which is the logistics industry, emergency services and utility companies.”

At the outset of the development of the digital address code Gary had to establish clear criteria to ensure the effectiveness of the system.

“It was very important for us that if a scanner was passed across a parcel Loc8code would be picked out from all the other noise that is on there.”

  • Self-checking: The code is self-checking. It started off with seven characters but then an eighth character was added that acts as a check for the other seven.
  • Adjacency: It was decided that it was very important that, for example, W8L is next to W9L. This allows for human interpretation of the code instead of the code being only related to a database. To that end the code starts at the top left of the country with the letter A. The first character is for broad areas. N is for Dublin and W is for Crosshaven and so on.
  • Concatenated Code: This allows for secure social networking. If someone didn’t want to give away their exact location the could by truncating the code reveal only their general area. The first three characters cover a zone of 3.5km. The use of six characters reduces that to around 120m and of course the whole code is pin point accurate.

The code is language and place name independent and does not matter if the community would prefer Irish or English.

An additional advantage for commercial operators is that considerable savings can be had in fuel costs from not having to drive around hunting down unfamiliar addresses. Gary estimates that the savings could be as great as 20% for operators serving rural communities.

The idea of Loc8 Code is that it should be an addition to the present addressing system instead of being a replacement. Gary explains, “ At this moment in time it is elective. People use it because they find it valuable. If it were to become a national system we wouldn’t require people to come to the site and create a code for themselves. We would actually deliver it to them. But that would be a huge cost to us so we are going to hold off on that.”

Loc8 Code can also be used as an app on an iPhone. Point 8 developed under licence by One Touch Solutions can be downloaded from itunes. It can create dynamic codes that you can send to others to enable them to navigate to you which once used can then be disposed of.

Should you ever wish to stop by for a chat or a coffee or send us something nice in the post then the Loc8 Code for Technology Voice is LTD-99-BZ9

The Silicon Valley 50

The 4th Annual ITLG Technology Awards will take place at Stanford University on April 5th and is being sponsored by the Irish Times and the Silicon Valley Bank.

The event will be hosted by Emily Chang, Bloomberg West Anchor and the keynote speaker will be Craig Barrett, ITLG Chairman and Retired CEO/Chairman of the Board, Intel Corporation.

Of especial interest this year will be the compilation of the Silicon Valley 50 – a list that gives recognition to the top 50 Irish American technology executives doing business in Silicon Valley.

A random sample of names from this list gives an idea of the extent of influence and depth of involvement that Irish Americans have had in shaping Silicon Valley into what it is to today – the gathering of the most creative minds in technology, marketing and management.

Many will have been aware of the massive changes that the economy of Ireland has undergone in recent years, from the heights of the Celtic Tiger to the depths of recession. These have been serious changes that have had and will continue to have an effect on economic growth for a little while more.

But all the gloomy news has hidden from sight one of the great success stories of the modern era – the incredible and remarkable story of the Irish tech sector.

According to ICT Ireland, (the voice of the Information and Communications Technology sector in Ireland), over 75,000 people are employed in the ICT area which is responsible for approximately 25% of Ireland’s total turnover and represents one third of Ireland’s exports by value.

Employment alone has grown by 6% in this area in 2010 and there is still the promise of more to come.

Any economy, anywhere in the world would crave for these sort of figures.

And the future looks better.

Three of the world’s leading research institutes are based in Ireland:

In a recent interview Barry O’Sullivan, Vice-President of Cisco’s global voice technology group, stated,

“Technology, by definition, is about the future – to the extent that you are in high tech then you are always in the next big thing.”

If one looks at what Ireland has been able to achieve in the harshest of economic climates then one can only begin to wonder at what can be achieved when the wind is set fair in the sails.

A major next step for many Irish companies is to take advantage of the world-renowned technological, marketing and management experience that resides in Silicon Valley.

The Irish Technology Leadership Group (ITLG) was founded in 2007 by John Hartnett. He is a recent recipient of the prestigious Spirit of Ireland Award from the San Jose-Dublin Sister City program.

He says there are three overwhelming reasons why Irish companies should establish a presence in Silicon Valley:

“One, you have access to the greatest collection of technology companies in the world. These companies are all over the world doing things with sales and operations. But you want to come to the heart of where they’re at, and that’s their headquarters.

“Number two, if you’re going to get investment, a smart investment from someone who is going to change your organization and make you a true winner, these VCs, these angel groups are sitting here, not in Ireland.

“The third piece is access to talent. You have the world’s talent sitting here – guys that invented Google, guys that are running companies like Facebook or Twitter – if you want to build your organization and build some key leadership where you might be weak.”

The ITLG have set up an innovation center right in the heart of Silicon Valley as a launch pad for Irish companies to set themselves up, and to make it easy for them to do the necessary networking and have the essential face-to-face meetings.

The ITLG is determined to create the most powerful Irish network in the world. The Irish Diaspora is estimated to consist of over 40 million people. If this huge and powerful potential resource could be harnessed, organized and focused, then the door opens for all sorts of great and marvelous possibilities to occur.

To help facilitate this the ITLG can draw upon its network of 1,500 Silicon Valley executives and industry leaders who are either Irish or of Irish descent. Many of these people have had great success in their professional lives and view their contributions to the ITLG as a means of payback for their own good fortune.

These contributions vary in nature but can consist of:

  • Mentoring new Irish businesses coming to Silicon Valley.
  • Providing vital contacts for business development through their personal networks that would be very difficult to obtain by any other means.
  • Providing facilities such as the Irish Innovation Center to provide Irish businesses with a solid base from which to work from.

The rapidly growing Irish tech sector can only continue to succeed if it can take its place in the global marketplace as quickly as possible. The center of the global market place for high tech is Silicon Valley and the ITLG is ideally placed to facilitate and further the growth of Irish technology businesses.

The Silicon Valley 50 will be recognized at the 4th Annual ITLG Technology Leaders Awards at Stanford University on April 5th. You can register here for tickets.

Tunepresto: Using Algorithms to Create Music for Videos

It has never been easier to make your own videos. A decent camera can be picked up for a fraction of the cost of a fully loaded professional camera. Editing can be done for very little additional cost on your desktop with software such as iMovie for the mac or Microsoft’s Windows Live Movie Maker 2011. As minimally functional as they are, they pack enough features to get started and turn out a something worthwhile in a relatively short time..

But when it comes to adding a music soundtrack to your video it can be become a real challenge to find a suitable piece of music. The options for those that are not so musically inclined or are unwilling or unable to pay royalties for material under copyright options can suddenly become very limited.

Even if the payment of a royalty fee is waived seeking permissions and searching through audio libraries can feel like an extreme process to undergo when all you want is a soundtrack for a video that you are going to share with some friends on YouTube or Facebook.

For those with a talent for music there is always the option of creating your own soundtrack but such ability seems not to be distributed equally or fairly amongst the population at large leaving the not so gifted with little hope in the realms of self-composition. So what to do?

Tunepresto is a web-based music maker. It generates original copyright free music to match your video or your slideshow presentation. How it works is really simple from the user’s perspective.

  • You upload your video or enter your YouTube URL and the Tunepresto software analyses the video.
  • The user then selects a style of music from the range of styles that are available on the system.
  • The software then generates a piece of music that exactly fits your video.

If you like it you can then download it and get the combined video and music file.

The idea for Tunepresto came when Siún Ní Raghallaigh, a television producer and her co-founder Justin McCarthy, a video editor, were chatting about what a pain it is to deal with copyright music and wouldn’t it be great to just press a button and have a music track composed for you.

As Siún says, “We were coming from a professional background and we were targeting a professional market. But whilst everybody thought it was a great idea the take up was a slow. So we decided to do some more market research.

“We learned a hard lesson. Our idea was not for the professional market. Our target should really be the consumer market. We refocused and changed the whole way we were approaching Tunepresto, the way we were marketing it and how we were targeting it.

“Part of what we discovered from the market research we did with our existing customers was that while we packed the desktop product with loads of great features all they wanted to do was press the compose button.

“We had put in a timeline, we had put in markers, you could change instruments and loads of different things but the majority of customers would just press compose. So we said, let’s do some of the decision making in the background as to what it produces but still use the same basic composition engine.

“We now have a one click solution, so to speak and we will be market led as to what we make available after that. If we add more features we want it to be what the user wants not what we think they want.”

Tunepresto have developed an algorithm that when presented with a video containing certain elements that it has detected in the video it can then generate a musical composition appropriate to the information presented to it.

Siún explains, “This is not pre-recorded music. This is not music loops. This system is actually making original music. It is generating the music based on the information that it is extracting from the video and the selection the user makes in terms of style of music. It is making new music to suit that particular video.”