The geoscience sector, valued at having a €3bn economic impact, together with Geoscience Ireland - a business development cluster of more than 30 firms - aim to support and diversify the area in Ireland

‘Geoscience’ is a broad term which encompasses a broad array of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines and applications. The geoscience sector is an important one for the Irish economy. Indecon recently valued the sector as having an overall economic impact of more than €3 billion and employing 24,700 people in 2016.

Sean Finlay, director, Geoscience Ireland

Supporting and diversifying the Irish geoscience sector is the primary goal of Geoscience Ireland (GI), a business development cluster of more than 30 companies. The main mechanism by which GI pursues this goal is by promoting the export of geoscience-related services to mature and emerging markets overseas.


GI was established in 2012 as a response to the economic downturn and the contraction in the construction and infrastructure development sectors in Ireland. The cluster started small, with five reference companies being supported by the Geological Survey Ireland and Enterprise Ireland.

Initially, the main targets of the cluster were infrastructure projects receiving funding from International Financial Institutions (IFIs) such as the World Bank, the European Investment Bank  and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

Progress to date: diversity and collaboration

Since 2012, however, the number of clients serviced by GI companies has expanded to include public and private sector entities in more than 50 countries worldwide, in sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, Europe, Canada and the United States.

Given the size of the markets concerned and the diversity of skills within GI member companies, collaborative approaches to the submission of bids for the services being procured by clients in these markets proved to be a key factor in the success that GI member firms have enjoyed to date.

Another more understated but important factor in the success of the GI initiative is the ‘Team Ireland’ approach to targeting international opportunities and developing linkages to overseas networks. Maintaining close collaboration with Enterprise Ireland and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is central to GI achieving its goals.

Enterprise Ireland’s commercial experience and network of overseas offices provide critical insights and leverages networks in such a way that GI member companies can gain market knowledge quickly and efficiently. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s embassy and consular network provides support in terms of facilitating receptions and networking events as well as visa and other relevant advice.

Results and recent developments

The results of this international focus are compelling. Since inception, GI member companies have created more than 750 net new jobs in the sector, employing more than 3,300 people (of which more than 1,900 are employed by small- and medium-sized enterprises) and generating more than €800 million in turnover.

This growth during the economic recovery has positioned GI member companies – now numbering 34 – in a stronger position to compete for infrastructure and construction work in an Irish context while maintaining their market presence overseas.

In addition to business development and support, GI maintains strong linkages to research and training. This includes involvement with Science Foundation Ireland and the industry-backed Irish Centre for Research in Applied Geoscience (iCRAG), and working with GSI, IT Carlow and SOLAS to develop a new Geo Driller apprenticeship course.

GI is undertaking a strategic review to chart its course for the next five years. Managing Brexit, exploring new markets and providing relevant services to member companies are among its components.

Different is good

Gearóid Ó Riain, managing director & co-founder, Compass Informatics

Compass Informatics is an IT and analytics company within the GI network. It contributes by offering differentiation via access to expert analytics and systems.

But is it all engineers and geoscientists?  Why would Compass Informatics – a location technologies and analytics company – be an active member of GI?  For a very good reason, as Compass has partnered effectively with such organisations for many years and has been a differentiator for those partners as they seek to win and deliver work.

Compass Informatics is a 21-year-old, too – founded in 1997, it is now a well-established and trusted company with a strong and repeat base of clients in Ireland, the UK, and South Africa; it has certainly come of age and is a company that is now setting out on a new phase of development that is focused very much on the development of a select number of key industry partnerships.

As the company seeks to build these partnerships to enable growth and international expansion, it sees that there are mutual benefits: many of the sectors that Compass has strengths in (environment and natural resources, planning, transportation) are those where the skills of engineering are of great importance; while the IT, spatial technologies, and analytics area are among sectors that Compass carries out to a high level of expertise, complementing internal teams that may already be in place.

Win new business in growth areas

Compass allows a partner to differentiate itself and win new business in growth areas, and the partner allows Compass to have access to a broader set of services and to a presence in new markets.

Compass has also invested heavily over recent years in key software platforms that are now in use and yielding efficiency benefits for clients; and generating a digital data resource that in itself is primed for analysis and the generation of new insights.

Platforms include Compass BIO that is used by UK water companies for management and compliance relating to sludges and biosolids management; Compass Analytics that manages and promotes property & asset information alongside demographics and infographics; Compass Roads Management that provides apps and web tools for rapid roads condition survey work, asset surveys, and work planning; GoParkit that is used by parking operators for pay-by-app, and live analytics; CitiWatch that provides real-time insights into people and vehicle movement via anonymised and aggregated mobile network data analysis.

Complemented by development and analysis services

These platforms are complemented by development and analysis services, consulting andadvice; and skilled seconded staff provision.

CitiWatch is delivered in partnership with Citi Logik, a UK company – illustrating a potential benefit of Brexit to Ireland: Compass Informatics, an Irish company, provides an EU-based partnership with an innovative and exciting UK company.

Compass also builds on leading technologies, be it Esri ArcGIS and open source in the GIS world; Microsoft Azure and Amazon AWS in the cloud hosting arena; or Microsoft Power BI, Python and R in the data analytics area.

The GeoScience Ireland network is an effective meeting and collaboration point that allows Compass to identify opportunities for mutual benefit, to build key strategic partnerships, to bring platform solutions to an engaged market, to seek international growth – all of which aligns with the company’s strategy for the coming years.

For more information please contact Gearóid Ó Riain, Managing Director & Co-Founder, Compass Informatics.

Phone: 01 210 4580, email: or visit:,


Tom Clayton, Senior Geotechnical Engineer, Fehily Timoney

Tom Clayton, senior geotechnical engineer, Fehily Timoney

Increase in urban development work and demand for Fehily Timoney’s services

Thanks to the recent upturn in the economy, Fehily Timoney has seen an increase in urban development work over the past year and our waste and contaminated land team continues to grow to meet the demand for Fehily Timoney’s services in this sector.

A key area of growth that we have identified is the development of urban brownfield land.

Until fairly recently in Ireland, brownfield sites have made up a relatively small proportion of the overall quantity of development sites.

However, the government’s recently released National Planning Framework and National Development Plan have a strong focus on compact growth of urban centres, including Dublin, Cork, Galway and Limerick. The plan highlights the creation of a New Regeneration and Development Fund with up to €3 billion in funds potentially available for brownfield development.

The plan also requires 40 per cent of new housing between now and 2040 to be constructed on brownfield and infill land and these sites often come with significant legacy issues ranging from the basic requirement for classification of infilled made ground for disposal or reuse, right up to significant industrial contamination leading to the requirement for complex remediation.

Fehily Timoney’s experience in delivering successful projects for our clients has shown that the engagement of a multidisciplinary consultant who understands the potential complexities of these sites during the acquisition and due diligence stage is paramount for developers who are looking to quantify these costly risks at the earliest possible stage.

Based on the information provided from the early-stage assessments, the developer can potentially make significant cost savings in the purchase of the site and avoid unexpected future costs and delays.

In recent times, a collaborative approach to working has become one of the cornerstones of a successful business and the market is increasingly requiring multidisciplinary and integrated approaches to problem solving.

This is particularly relevant for the development of a brownfield site, where there are likely to be significant multidisciplinary constraints which need to be identified at the early stage, including ecology, planning constraints, landscape, traffic issues and so on.

Makes use of fully integrated team of planners, engineers, ecologists and scientists

Fehily Timoney makes use of a fully integrated team of planners, engineers, ecologists and scientists (including BIM and data scientists) to provide these services.  Some of the services Fehily Timoney can offer include combined bespoke geotechnical and environmental ground investigations to assess ground risks, planning feasibility assessments and ecological surveys to provide a full risk profile for a given site to developers or other local authority landowners.

Fehily Timoney has recently completed a significant project relating to site investigation, remediation and monitoring as part of the enabling works for the North Runway project at Dublin airport and is currently working with GI colleagues Priority Construction on the remediation of an unlicensed landfill at Timoole, Co Meath.

We have also undertaken significant work in the UK market, particularly in Scotland and Northern Ireland where we have recently completed work on the Kilgallioch wind farm and are currently completing detailed design on the Dalry bypass. Due to our existing presence in these markets, Fehily Timoney is well placed to offer our brownfield expertise to clients in the UK, as well as developing our presence in the domestic Irish market. For more information on Fehily Timoney visit


Michael Flynn, Executive Chairman

Michael Flynn, executive chairman, FLI Global

Providers of sustainable environmental solutions

The FLI Group has been a GI member for many years. FLI Global and its wholly owned subsidiaries, VertaseFLI, FLI Water and FLI France, are providers of sustainable environmental solutions across a diversified range of activities and sectors, including contaminated land remediation, wastewater treatment process technology, M&E services, engineered landfill design and construction.

FLI Global is a very proud Irish company based in Waterford and operating globally. Current project locations include: Panama, Guadeloupe, French Guyana, Reunion Island, Martinique, Macedonia and China, in addition to its 100 or so local domestic projects in the UK and France annually.

A team of 25-30 Irish-based staff are employed on the international projects including technicians, engineers, site managers and project managers.

Last St Patrick’s Day, 2018, FLI completed the acquisition of the business and assets of the UK-based QDS Contracting, part of the Hydrock Group. This acquisition increased the staff numbers in FLI Global to 200 plus and strengthened and reinforced its environmental engineering team.

FLI QDS Contracting will complement VertaseFLI in its activities in soil and groundwater remediation, and will help support FLI Globals’ new Joint Venture business in China with Ningbo Ligong, a listed environmental services company, and CMIG Jiaye, part of the China Minsheng investment Group.

Remediation of landfills and brownfield land in densely populated areas

The China-based business will be managed by the FLI Global’s Waterford-based management team and its Shanghai-based Irish management team. The focus of the China JV is on the remediation of landfills and brownfield land in densely populated areas to facilitate the recovery and development of the prime development land underneath such legacy industrial and municipal sites.

The vision of the FLI Group leadership is to build a centre of excellence in Waterford for the provision of a wide range of environmental services globally.  The FLI Group chairman & CEO stated: “As a Geoscience Ireland member and a proud Team Ireland supporter, the FLI Group is keen to offer support to other Geoscience Ireland members and other Irish SMEs seeking to enter the Chinese and French markets through its network of established operating businesses and partners.”

The FLI Group is currently evaluating market opportunities for the off-site manufacturing of sustainable engineered and bespoke designed structures to support its client base in the water utilities and in the specialist civil engineering sectors in its current geographical markets.

The FLI Group leadership sees growth opportunities for all geoscience related businesses that are willing, flexible and interested in embracing the growing globalised market for specialised technical services across a diverse range of sectors. Trading internationally is not for the fainthearted and an inbuilt ability to respect cultural differences while possessing the flexibility to adapt established practices and processes is essential to increasing the chances of success.

While a fear of change, uncertainty and the potential for failure face growing businesses every day, especially when considering the internationalisation of a business, a fear of success may also be an unconscious concern that can inhibit a management team, as success also brings change and uncertainty that requires a willingness and an appetite to embrace the risks both real and imagined. For more information visit

Keybridge House redevelopment, central London – UK’s tallest residential brick building

David Graham, associate director, Murphys Surveys

David Graham, associate director, Murphys Surveys

Located in Vauxhall, London, Keybridge House was designed in the mid 1970s as a 17-storey tower block and five-storey ‘Podium’ building arranged over two basement levels extending beneath the site. It was originally built to house the Post Office and was later taken over by British Telecom as a telephone exchange and office space.

In 2014, BT decommissioned the site and development began to turn the building into a residential development, encompassing a newly developed eight-story Keybridge House, Keybridge Capital and Keybridge Lofts which, at 37 storeys, is the UK’s tallest residential brick tower. The original building was demolished with just the basement retained for the new development. In total, the Keybridge development will offer 595 studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom homes in the heart of London.

Innovative, forward-thinking approach

The development is managed by Mount Anvil, one of the UK’s leading residential developers. The company’s innovative, forward-thinking approach, together with its ambitious award-winning projects, has earned it a reputation for delivering world-class projects to the highest standards of engineering precision.

Murphy Surveys was chosen as Mount Anvil’s preferred measurement partner for the Keybridge development. It was selected based on its multidisciplinary capability and breadth of data capture methods, which were perfectly suited to provide the meticulous level of detail and data required for the project.  As an Irish company with its UK headquarters in London, the Murphy Surveys team were able to provide the agility and local coverage demanded of the development.

Murphy Surveys was tasked with delivering the measurement requirements spanning the entire project from planning and construction, to verification and as-built validation. Surveying methods used included laser scanning, topographic surveys, setting out, monitoring, measured building surveys, utility, Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) and Non-Destructive Testing (NDT).

The project started with the initial establishment of primary controls in the street and in the two vast basements. Following that process, a 3D topographical survey of the site was conducted, in order to provide a clear understanding of the infrastructure above and below ground. The team were responsible for providing information about the underground utilities, from typical sewer and drainage surveys, using GPR and NDT to locate the vast and complex utilities including electricity and telecom supply lines.

Reinforcement survey

NDT was also used to create a reinforcement survey to identify and validate the positions of steel reinforcement within the floor slab and map them in 3D.

The next phase of work involved 3D laser scanning to produce detailed 3D facade elevations externally, Revit model of the two basements levels and internal elevations. In order to capture data from the trenches at the lower level of the site, the 3D laser scanner was inverted.

Due to the size of the development and its prime central London location, a 3D Rights of Light survey was commissioned to determine whether or not the development would cause an infringement once built.

The scope of the project included a large monitoring component, due to the complexity of construction and its proximity to other structures, including:
• Anne’s Church – environmental monitoring survey to monitor the stability of the church and alert the project team should the building be affected by the construction;
• Public House ‘The Griffin’ – 3D party wall monitoring to examine movement during during demolition, piling and construction work;
• Network Rail Overbridge – asset protection monitoring to ensure that design parameters stay within predicted limits;
• UK Power Networks Substation – real-time vibration monitoring to measure the impact of construction work in the vicinity of the substation;
• BT Chamber – protection monitoring of the existing telecommunication data centre;
• Keybridge House Basement – deformation monitoring of the diaphragm walls of the basement of the old structure, to ensure the walls do not cave in during earthworks.

A special challenge was to combine 3D laser scanning of the basement with external electromagnetic scanning to establish the thickness and geometry of the basement walls and pile foundations. Once the development was nearing completion, the team were brought in to provide as-built models, including a floor flatness survey to analyse and validate floor levels against plan. The three-year project involved close collaboration with the developer Mount Anvil as well as Network Rail, BT, UK Power Networks, WSP and the local authority.

‘Keybridge is a bold and ambitious development that is a standout landmark in this new regeneration area of London. The complexity of the project including the reuse of an existing double storey height basement and scope of work involved meant we needed a partner we could trust to deliver across the entire project span, from initial site works and monitoring through to as-built verification and validation. We have a long-standing relationship with the team at Murphy Surveys, who were able to meet the unique demands of the site and provide the level of detail required with ease, on time and to budget.” Philip Kingsford, project manager, Mount Anvil

The first phase of the project was completed in January 2018, with phase 2 and 3 to be finalised later in the year. For more information about Murphy Surveys visit

Richard Crowe, Managing Director, Nicholas O'Dwyer

Richard Crowe, managing director, Nicholas O’Dwyer

Delivered infrastructure projects across the global economy

Nicholas O’Dwyer has a substantial international portfolio and has delivered infrastructure projects across the global economy since the 1960s.  Working mainly with international funding agencies as a client base, they have been at the forefront of significant infrastructural projects throughout the developing world.

A recently completed project is the extension and upgrade of Kütahya wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) in Turkey, funded by the European Union. The plant in Kütahya is designed for a population equivalent of 360,000, with provision to expand the works to cater for 440,000 in the years beyond 2030.

The treatment process used is a simultaneous denitrification process with anaerobic sludge digestion. Construction work commenced in February 2016 and was substantially complete in December 2017. In addition to supervising this design/build project, Nicholas O’Dwyer provided capacity building for the Kütahya municipality in the form of practical training in project management and in management of the WWTP during and after construction.

GI promotes Irish geoscience capabilities in international markets and multidisciplinary collaboration between Irish companies.  A successful example of such collaboration in consultancy services was the alliance between Nicholas O’Dwyer and Apex Geoservices Limited, another GI company, on the development of the water supply system for the city of Blantyre in Malawi.

Blantyre is Malawi’s second largest city and the chief commercial and industrial centre. Blantyre Water Board serves a population of more than 920,000 within the city and the surrounding areas. This population is expected to grow rapidly due to rural-to-urban influx, expansion of the city, a high birth rate and reduced mortality due to improved health services.

Project was to prepare detailed designs for tendering works to expand bulk water abstraction

The objective of this project was to prepare detailed designs for tendering works to expand bulk water abstraction, treatment and delivery systems to meet the increasing water demand in the city of Blantyre and surrounding environs for a 25-year period.

The investment for this project which, in addition to the intake, water treatment works and bulk transfer pipelines, includes pumping stations and service reservoirs, amounts to US$128 million for the current stage with an additional US$36 million estimated for the second stage which will cater for the demand post-2030. This investment is funded by the World Bank.

 ‘Through this project, we envisage that 250,000 more people in Malawi will have access to clean and safe water. We would like supply disruptions especially in Blantyre to be a thing of the past, and we would like to see the water boards function better.’ World Bank Country Manager for Malawi

Many of the project undertaken by Nicholas O’Dwyer in sub-Saharan Africa have involved the upgrading of vital strategic road links. To hundreds of thousands of people who live along the N11 in Mozambique, between Milange and Mocuba, the N11 is more than just a road.

The ‘Integrated Development of Milange – Mocuba Corridor’ project will open up areas of significant agricultural production to markets through the trunk road and associated rural roads.

It will help reduce poverty and promote economic and social development and facilitate international trade, thereby enhancing regional integration. It has fundamental and strategic significance for regional and economic integration in southern Africa.

Nicholas O’Dwyer is responsible for supervising the contracts to rehabilitate and upgrade to bitumen standard the final 110km which will complete the N11 corridor, and also for the rehabilitation of  approximately 150km of rural roads linking in to the N11 corridor.

This last missing link of the transport corridor linking Malawi and Zambia to Mozambique’s north/south arterial road, and to ports on the Indian Ocean, will be completed by the end of 2018. For more information on Nicholas O’Dwyer visit

This article was produced in association with Geoscience Ireland and the members featured above HarringtonSponsoredBIM,geoscience,Geoscience Ireland
‘Geoscience’ is a broad term which encompasses a broad array of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines and applications. The geoscience sector is an important one for the Irish economy. Indecon recently valued the sector as having an overall economic impact of more than €3 billion and employing...