Government-funded research centre will call for input from multinational players like eBay, local tech companies and Irish universities to solve data challenges
Tech

The Government has announced details of a €1 million initial investment in a research programme in data analytics or ‘big data’, a key sector that is growing at 40% per annum worldwide. Development of the data analytics field has been identified as an opportunity for jobs growth, as part of the ‘Disruptive Reforms’ in the Government’s Action Plan for Jobs 2013.

Top-tier multinational and Irish ICT companies will lead the research agenda at a technology centre called CeADAR (the Centre for Applied Data Analytics Research). CeADAR’s industry partners include: eBay, Accenture, Dell, Fidelity Investments, Adaptive Mobile, Climote, Cylon, GBR, HP, Moving Media, Nathean Technologies, Nucleus Venture Partners, and Qumas.

CeADAR research will be focused on developing ways of generating business, profit and ultimately jobs from the high-growth area of data analytics. It will conduct initial research into technology challenges that have been identified by the industry representatives.

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Led by University College Dublin, the research consortium – which includes University College Cork and the Dublin Institute of Technology – will use the funding to work with a group of companies to accelerate the development, deployment and adoption of data analytics technology. This initial research programme is a significant step towards a Government funded five-year investment in a Technology Centre for Data Analytics.

CeADAR’s initial research projects will involve:

• Intelligent analytic interfaces, which focuses on allowing ordinary users to derive benefits from exploring data, developing insights and communicating results from advanced analytics tools.

• Data management for analytics, which seeks to develop approaches, methods and tools to improve, simplify and reduce the effort involved in the management of data for analytics purposes.

• Advanced analytics, which will create approaches, tools and techniques to improve the accuracy of the detection/identification and communication of cause and effect scenarios across data streams.

Prof Peter Clinch, UCD Vice-President for Innovation said CeADAR brought together innovative companies and world-class Irish researchers from University College Dublin, University College Cork and the Dublin Institute of Technology into a powerful innovation partnership to perform leading-edge research in the area of big data. “We’re confident that CeADAR will help to position Ireland as a ‘go-to’ country for future big data solutions,” he said.

KEY TARGET SECTOR

CeADAR’s lead PIs:

  • Prof Padraig Cunningham, Professor of Knowledge and Data Engineering, UCD School of Computer Science & Informatics and Director, CLIQUE Research Cluster;
  • Prof Barry O’Sullivan, Director, 4C (Cork Constraint Computation Centre), Head of Department, Computer Science, UCC; and
  • Brian Mac Namee, Applied Intelligence Research Centre, School of Computing, DIT.

Data analytics is about the conversion of large amounts of raw data into valuable information through the use of statistical techniques and advanced software. An Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland initiative, the initial research phase of this Technology Centre in Data Analytics will aim to make Ireland a world leader in this area.

Data analytics is a key target sector identified as a Disruptive Reform in the Government’s Action Plan for Jobs 2013, offering major potential to Ireland due to established advantages in this area. Recent research by the Advanced Performance Institute found that only about 7% of organisations use tools such as big data analytics, but that those who do outperform their competition.

Establishing an industry-led Data Analytics Technology Centre to work on developing viable business tools in this emerging area is one of the major actions contained in the plan aimed at realising this potential. CeADAR’s lead team will be based at NexusUCD, the Industry Partnership Centre at University College Dublin that is part of the university’s ‘innovation ecosystem’. This allows for close proximity to and interaction with academics and researchers.

“A key part of this Government’s plan for growth and jobs is identifying areas where we believe Ireland has distinct advantages compared to other countries, and taking steps necessary to ensure that we realise our potential for employment in those areas,” said Richard Bruton, Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation. “Data analytics is one such sector, and the Government believes that between our climate, skills base and existing strengths in ICT, we have the potential to reap substantial benefits in terms of jobs and growth from the global expansion of this sector.”

He said that the establishment of an industry-led technology centre in this sector would ensure that the major research strengths Ireland has built up over the past decade were directed firmly towards viable business ideas and, ultimately, jobs.

“Data is only as valuable as the information and insights we can extract from it,” added Gearoid Mooney, director of ICT Commercialisation with Enterprise Ireland. “Industries across the world are looking for ways to extract information and insights that will help them make better decisions and create competitive edge. The focus of the researchers in University College Dublin, University College Cork and the Dublin Institute of Technology will be to create new technologies, usage models and commercial applications to address the short to medium term technology needs of the Irish-based industry.”

INDUSTRY INVOLVEMENT

eBay is one of the companies participating in the project. Deirdre Lambe, of eBay’s GCO EU Project & Programme Management, said the company got involved in CeADAR because it has a network of analysts across eBay Inc. “These are dealing with big data challenges on a daily basis and we recognise the need for a joined-up approach to strong data analytics solutions across the board in all types of industry for all user levels,” she said.

Numerous data centre, internet and technology companies have already invested heavily in Ireland, making the most of its strong connectivity, with subsea connections to Europe and the US, and temperatures favourable for free-air cooling.

Last year, Google launched its Dublin data centre in Profile Park, which is being pitched as Ireland’s ‘data centre cluster’. The park is also home to data centres by Microsoft, Digital Realty Trust and TelecityGroup, as well as facilities by Facebook, Amazon and eBay-owned PayPal.

Prof Padraig Cunningham, UCD School of Computer Science and Informatics and CeADAR lead PI said it was important to recognise that the opportunities associated with ‘big data’ do not just relate to the analysis of large volumes of data. “The excitement is as much about integrating new sources of data – data that comes from new technology such as smart phones or social media. The opportunity may relate to integrating data from different sources or from analysing streams of data in real-time,” he said.

The CeADAR project leverages the research clusters and technologies created by prior Science Foundation Ireland investments.

Under the SSTI policy 2006, the Programme for Government 2011, and the Government Action Plan for Jobs 2013, technology centres have been identified as a key component of Ireland’s Economic Development Strategy. Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland initiative, Technology Centres are public-private research centres of excellence that connect industry to the higher education sector to increase the generation and availability of new, industrially relevant knowledge. The research agenda is driven by the companies that are involved and leverages the strength of other previous academic research funding provided by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation.

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The Government has announced details of a €1 million initial investment in a research programme in data analytics or 'big data', a key sector that is growing at 40% per annum worldwide. Development of the data analytics field has been identified as an opportunity for jobs growth, as part...