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Feast your eyes on a constellation of 21 Irish software superstars

software-stars-ireland-718x523Ireland’s software leading lights have impacted the industry, inspired the next generation, made incredible gains around the world and even taken their ideas to space.

Tonight (20 November), the Irish Software Association’s annual awards ceremony will celebrate the best of this sector in Dublin’s city centre.

Each year, companies that have achieved exceptional success and developed innovative technologies and partnerships are awarded in front of an audience of over more than leading influencers and decision-makers from the industry.

And, in case you were in any doubt about Ireland’s remarkable software pedigree, just check out some of the accomplishments of those below.

1. Eamon Leonard

Epitomising the kind of success that can be enjoyed through a career in software, entrepreneur and software developer Eamon Leonard sold his company Orchestra to Engine Yard for an undisclosed sum in 2011.

Generous with his time, Leonard is something of a community standard-bearer for start-ups and coders and has provided meet-up space for communities focused on software languages ranging from Node.js and PHP to Python and Ruby on Rails. Leonard also set up the popular Pub Standard event in Dublin and somehow still makes time available to host coffee meet-ups with entrepreneurs.

2. Claire McHugh

Hard-working and determined, Claire McHugh is one of the leading female CEOs in the indigenous software industry and her TV software company Axonista has signed key deals with broadcasters including QVC in the US and TV3 in Ireland.

The Dublin-based company has developed SaaS-based TV scheduling middleware that enables broadcasters to add more information for viewers intent on enjoying the ‘lean back’ tablet experience.

3. Mike Hinchey

Based at University of Limerick, Lero is Ireland’s national software engineering research centre and it has been led by Mike Hinchey since 2008.

Previous to his work at Lero, Hinchey worked at NASA, where he rose to the position of director of NASA’s software engineering lab.

Hinchey helped make NASA missions self-managing and able to proceed to terrains that were previously inaccessible. He also helped develop significant advances in survivability, resulting in less likelihood of mission failure.

His work was so useful to NASA in terms of existing and future space missions – including landing swarms of robots on Mars at some future stage – that, after four years, a vote in Congress had to be called to extend his contract.

4. Sarah Bourke

While the shiny new crafts boldly going where few humans have gone before usually get the headlines, Sarah Bourke and her company Skytek are the ones ensuring that those vehicles stay in the air and the depths of space.

One of the pieces of software that Bourke and Skytek developed was the International Procedural Viewer, which has been operating aboard the International Space Station since 2005.

“It has all the information they need,” Bourke said in an interview with Siliconrepublic.com last year. “Our system assists them as they do their work onboard – if they have a scientific experiment the system walks them through the process, or if they need to do a spacewalk it tells them the procedures that should be followed.”

5. Annrai O’Toole

Annrai O’Toole was a co-founder of Iona Technologies, the second Irish company ever to go public on the NASDAQ, way back in 1997. A software High King of the country, O’Toole saw his company reach a peak value of $1.75bn at the turn of the millennium, before it was sold later in the decade.

Elsewhere, O’Toole created another successful start-up, Cape Clear, which was acquired by Workday in 2008, the same year that Iona Technologies changed hands. Cape Clear’s expertise is exemplified by the fact that its entire workforce remains in Workday today, a full seven years later.

6. Barry Downes

With many efforts being made to make Ireland one of the leading countries in the world when it comes to developing internet of things (IoT) technology, one of the largest R&D centres is TSSG (Telecommunications Software and Systems Group) at Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT).

At its helm is Barry Downes, is the founder of the mobile software company FeedHenry, which was snapped up by Red Hat last year for a cool €63.5m in cash.

With the addition of a Bachelor of Science (Hons) in the Internet of Things at WIT, Downes is currently facilitating many of the next generation of software developers and IoT technologies, building on the success he had with FeedHenry.

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€3.1m R&D project to turn aquaculture data into profits

AquaSmart-LogoA new research project is aiming to help the aquaculture industry to improve its efficiency through data use, and without harming the environment.

The €3.1 million Aquasmart project is an R&D project which will use big data, data mining and open data to assist companies in transforming data into knowledge, and then using this knowledge to improve efficiency, increase profitability and carry out business in a sustainable, environmentally friendly way.

“Aquaculture companies are drowning in data, but starving for knowledge. Within Aquasmart, we intend to create new opportunities through the provision of a comprehensive data mining solution, which is based on an integrated platform, enabling companies to expand by having raw data transformed into knowledge via accurate business-driven analytical models in a seamless and efficient process,” the company said.

“Whether Aquasmart is used to drive new business, reduce costs or gain the competitive edge, data mining is a most valuable and transformational asset for every fish farming organization, be it large or small.”

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20 Inspiring Irish success stories to motivate aspiring entrepreneurs

start-ups-goals-718x523

For start-ups and entrepreneurs with big dreams, these 20 examples showcase what’s possible.

From acquisitions to investments, securing big funding to signing big clients, these Irish start-up and entrepreneur success stories should provide plenty of motivation.

This list is by no means definitive, just a taste of the great stories from Irish and Irish-led start-ups making significant gains around the world. Our selection serves to highlight the world of opportunities out there for Ireland-based and Irish-led companies and start-ups, and provide a bit of a boost to start the week.

1. Stripe
The biggest Irish-led start-up success story of recent years, Stripe was founded five years ago by Irish brothers Patrick and John Collison when they were just 22 and 19, respectively.

Operating out of Silicon Valley, the company, which enables websites to accept credit and debit card payments easily and without friction, was recently valued at $5bn after raising just under $100m from investors.

2. Hostelworld
Founded by Irishman Ray Nolan in 1999, Hostelworld’s rise to the top has been stratospheric.

Hostelworld was the first site to offer online booking for hostels, and filling that niche has been key to the start-up’s success. Nolan is no slouch either – in 2009, he returned $500m on an initial investment of $130,000.

Last month, Hostelworld was valued at €245m ahead of an IPO in Dublin and Ireland.

3. Hassle.com
Hassle.com, a kind of Hailo for cleaners, was founded by Irishwoman Jules Coleman with friends Alex Depledge and Tom Nimmo back in 2011.

The service – which won Start-up of the Year at the Tech City Awards in 2013 – raised $6m a year ago from Silicon Valley venture capital firm Accel Partners, which has also invested in Facebook, Etsy, Spotify, Dropbox and Atlassian. This summer, Berlin-based Helpling acquired the company for around €32m, with Coleman’s scaling plans integral to the deal.

4. FeedHenry
FeedHenry, which is headed by Cathal McGloin, spun out from Waterford Institute of Technology’s Telecommunication Software and Systems Group (TSSG) in 2010. With offices in Dublin, Waterford, Staines and Massachussets, FeedHenry creates a ‘mobile first’ platform for organisations that include Aer Lingus, Baystate Health and O2 UK.

Last year, open source software giant Red Hat acquired the start-up for €63.5m in cash with the aim of aligning FeedHenry’s technology with its open hybrid cloud strategy.

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National Digital Week 2015

digi weekIreland’s first National Digital Week was held in Skibbereen, Co. Cork from 3rd – 8th November 2015.  In attendance were over 1,600 delegates, a mix of digital entrepreneurs, marketers, technology enthusiast and SMEs, all looking to extend their knowledge and start their journey into the digital world. It also brought together some of the country’s top digital experts to speak at the conference, as well as a number of high profile guests.

The National Digital Week was organised by a steering group of the recently established Ludgate@Skibbereen initiative, which aims to create a digitally enabled rural society in West Cork, allowing innovators to create and expand their businesses in a rural setting while also being able to compete at the larger global scale.

Waterford Institute of Technology Telecommunication Software and Systems Group (TSSG) were invited to talk on the Internet of Things (IoT) and the research they carry out in this space. Following on from this was a panel discussion on how IoT could be of benefit to various industries and individuals.

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Annie Ibrahim Rana conferred with a PhD

Annie Ibrahim Rana Conferral Photograph

New TSSG PhD Graduate Dr Annie Ibrahim Rana with (left) one of her supervisors, Dr Brendan Jennings and (right) President of Waterford Institute of Technology, Prof. Willie Donnelly

Former TSSG PhD student Dr Annie Ibrahim Rana was conferred with her PhD at a conferral ceremony in Waterford Institute of Technology on October 29th. Annie, came to Waterford in 2009 from Lahore, Pakistan to pursue a PhD with the Telecommunications Software & Systems Group. Her research, which was carried out as part of the FAME Strategic Research Cluster (http://www.fame.ie) addressed the application of semantic web technologies to automate the configuration of devices in the context of a home network. Annie developed novel techniques that allow a network management agent infer the context in which a home user interacts with network devices and automate the identification and application of an appropriate device configuration. Annie’s research was supervised by TSSG’s Dr Brendan Jennings, Dr Steven Davy and Dr Mícheál Ó Foghlú. Since completing her work Annie has left Waterford and is currently a researcher in the Cloud and Services Laboratory in Intel Labs Europe, Leixlip, Co. Kildare. Her friends and colleagues in TSSG wish her every success in her future career.

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