Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys TD, has launched the latest Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Research Centre, CONFIRM - a ‘smart manufacturing’ research centre led by University of Limerick (UL) and involving 42 companies.
The centre is funded by SFI and industry to a value of €47 million, making it one of the largest new research and development centres in the country. The manufacturing sector is the second largest employer in Ireland and accounts for 24 per cent of total economic output - €110 billion in exports.
Minister Heather Humphreys TD launched the CONFIRM headquarters at Park Point, University of Limerick. The Park Point site, close to the main UL campus had been empty for some time and the university will continue to invest in its rejuvenation over the coming years.
The CONFIRM SFI Research Centre is a consortium led by University of Limerick including the Tyndall National Institute, University College Cork, Cork Institute of Technology, National University of Ireland Galway, Athlone Institute of Technology, Maynooth University and Limerick Institute of Technology. The centre will comprise more than 200 researchers in smart manufacturing, including 106 new appointments.
The CONFIRM SFI Research Centre is supported by 42 Industry partners including technology providers and end users from the Multi-National Corporation (MNC) and Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) sectors across Ireland.
Speaking at the launch of the new SFI Research Centre CONFIRM in Limerick, Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys, TD, said: “Manufacturing is a key sector in our economy in Ireland, and in an evolving world where digital economies are becoming commonplace, it is crucial that Ireland can continue to deliver impactful research outcomes in this area. CONFIRM will benefit Ireland through enabling us to compete internationally, generating employment, enhancing student skills, and attracting new investment. We are delighted to support this centre which will transform manufacturing in Ireland through the expertise of highly-skilled researchers. CONFIRM is one of five new Research Centres to receive funding from the Irish Government through Science Foundation Ireland (SFI). SFI Research Centres are selected through a competitive and rigorous international peer-review process, and are of critical importance to Ireland’s economy.”
Commenting ahead of the launch UL’s Professor Conor McCarthy, CONFIRM Centre Director, said: “This truly is a game-changer for Irish manufacturing competitiveness. The establishment of this SFI research centre will position Ireland to play a leading role in the global smart manufacturing revolution. This innovation will enable consumer-driven mass customisation, where future Irish products will be tailored to individual needs and delivered directly to them just hours after placing orders.”
Professor McCarthy added: “CONFIRM will act as a beacon for international talent in the areas of advanced manufacturing from robotics to artificial intelligence. Ireland enjoys a highly-skilled and highly-motivated workforce in the manufacturing sector, this workforce is the envy of other nations. CONFIRM builds upon this reputation and seeks to establish a world-leading centre for smart manufacturing”.
Dr Ciarán Seoighe, Deputy Director General of Science Foundation Ireland, said: “We are delighted to officially launch the new CONFIRM SFI Research Centre today. CONFIRM is supported through Science Foundation Ireland’s Research Centres Programme. This Programme has established a network of 17 world-leading research centres across Ireland that combine investment from Government and industry partners. The research centres are a tangible demonstration of the Government’s commitment to excellent scientific research in Ireland. By enhancing Ireland’s smart manufacturing systems through expert research, CONFIRM, alongside the other SFI Research Centres, will deliver important scientific advances that will enhance our economy, provide excellent training for students and maintain Ireland’s outstanding global reputation. I look forward to the impactful projects that CONFIRM will lead in smart manufacturing over the coming years.”
Speaking about the launch, Minister of State for Training, Skills and Innovation, John Halligan, TD, said: “We are delighted to support another SFI Research Centre through Science Foundation Ireland. CONFIRM will bring top researchers across higher-level institutes in Ireland together with key industry partners to drive the future of smart manufacturing. Through impactful research led by manufacturing and engineering experts, CONFIRM will continue the excellent work to date of the 16 other SFI Research Centres, all of which generate value in our economy through education and training, job creation, advancing key sectors and important scientific discoveries. I want to congratulate the researchers of CONFIRM and to wish them the best of luck.”