Meet the Team… Carol Faughnan TSSG Technology Gateway

In our ‘Meet the Team’ series, we bring you a range of staff interviews from across the Technology Gateway Network.

Today we introduce Carol Faughnan, Business Development Executive at TSSG, Waterford Institute of Technology

1. Tell us a bit about the TSSG Technology Gateway

The Telecommunications Software and Systems Group (TSSG) is Waterford Institute of Technology’s (WIT) ICT research wing. We act as a major driver in the emergence of a telecommunications industry globally. We recently acquired the title of one of the most successful ICT research centres in Ireland securing in excess of €100 million under EU Programmes and as part of our remit, we deal directly with industry partners in Ireland via the Enterprise Ireland Technology Gateways, known as TSSG Gateway.

2. Describe your role?

As Business Development Executive at the Gateway I facilitate the engagement between industry partners and the researchers at TSSG. I do a lot of networking and engage with potential clients looking to develop ICT and IoT innovations. I also enable clients to access funding to accelerate this engagement via the Enterprise Ireland Innovation Voucher and Innovation Partnership Programmes. In addition, I engage with a lot of global brands on Contract R&D projects which are ongoing at the Technology Gateway here at TSSG.

3. What’s unique about the Gateway and its presence in the South-East?

TSSG is one of three Gateways in the South East, all based out of Waterford Institute of Technology. Two of the research centres TSSG and PMBRC scooped an award at the Technology Ireland Industry Awards, the most coveted awards ceremony within the Irish technology sector, in 2019. The project, titled ‘Digital DNA Storage Infrastructure of the Future’, involves an infrastructure that supports encoding of digital transformation in DNA, which will lead to a new form of data storage for the future and will pave the way for many projects including in the Agricultural sector.

We have our own Datacentre and Mixed Reality lab on our stand-alone campus which is extremely unique in the sense that it is a one-stop-shop for industry to access knowledge and solutions in advanced mobiles services and service enablers such as:

  • Distributed & cloud-based mobile services
  • Next generation IP based voice and video
  • Virtual and augmented reality services
  • Location, context, smart space and social service enablers
  • Data science, AI and mining

4. How can companies get involved with TSSG?

Get in touch with myself or one of our team; Miguel Ponce De Leon, Technology Gateway Manager and Jim Prendergast, Business Development Executive, and we will listen carefully to what you need, help to carve out a product development roadmap and match you with the right teams and funding supports to get you where you need to be.

5. What are the main benefits for a company collaborating with TSSG?

The benefit of working with the Gateway is that we can offer Government funding supports as a research knowledge provider. If a company is looking to do R&D then it is beneficial for them to work with us both in terms of getting the best available expertise from researchers working on a wide array of global projects and also to leverage value that they get when they access funding through the Gateway and Enterprise Ireland.

6. How can you help a company prepare for an innovation project?

At the TSSG Gateway we can offer insights into niche markets and identify the best way for SMEs collaborate with our researchers. We can help to break down a very large and overwhelming project to maximise the funding available and carve out a product development roadmap. We look beyond the profane and use the latest technologies available to help bring the project to a new level of innovation with a view to disrupting existing industries.

7. What’s the one piece of advice you would give to a company considering an innovation project?

Know your niche and do the market viability study to scope whether the project is going to have a viable industry need prior to investing the funds. Market intelligence on the part of the client is the most important thing in preparing for an innovation project. Our researchers are technical experts with a lot of industry experience. When a client comes to us with potentially disruptive industry knowledge this is the key to a very successful collaboration.

8. What do you love most about your job?

I absolutely love my job. Meeting people and helping them bring incredible ideas to reality through academic collaboration is extremely rewarding. There is a certain chemistry where disruptive industry meets cutting edge research and it is a privilege to represent both equally, and offer funding supports to bring new projects to life.

Contact me on LinkedIn or email me at cfaughnan@tssg.org to arrange a meeting or have an informal virtual coffee.


CAPPA Assisting with Defining NSAI Standards for Barrier Masks

CAPPA Technology Gateway are delighted to announce that Researcher Dr Steven Darby was recently part of the team, which worked to define The National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI) standards for barrier masks. The NSAI standard for barrier masks was recently published and provides important information for manufacturers and consumers in relation to barrier masks. The specification was developed in response to a request from the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission and with the view that many Irish manufacturing companies are trying to change their production lines in response to the current pandemic.

The NSAI developed this Specification Written in Fast Track (SWiFT) to address an urgent need for a consensus – based specification for non – medical and non – PPE masks (barrier masks) for the general public. Used in conjunction with relevant public health advice, these barrier masks may contribute to the prevention of the spreading viral (e.g. COVID – 19) infections. This work had to be completed within a very tight timeline due to the urgency of the project. This specification was developed using existing specifications from NSAI colleagues in France, Belgium and Spain.

Cork Institute of Technology staff, Dr Steven Darby, (CAPPA) Dr Niall Smith (Head of Research, CIT), Professor Roy Sleator, Alan Giltinan, CIT Blackrock Castle Observatory, along with contributed as experts in the development of the document. Commenting on the publication, Dr Niall Smith said: “It is gratifying to see members of the CIT research community playing a thought-leading role during the Covid-19 emergency. Further developments in the manufacture and use of masks can be anticipated as we gain a better understanding of the transmission pathways for the virus.”

CAPPA is committed to providing its facilities and expertise in every possible aspect to help with the fight against COVID – 19. Even though we are restricted with what we can do, we are still available to speak with you regarding research projects, proposals and product solutions. If you wish to speak with a member of the team contact them here or email cappa@cit.ie.

This post was originally published on the CAPPA website


Proactive Response by SEAM & 3DWIT to Current Global Public Health Crisis

SEAM & 3DWIT delivering 3D printed face shields to National Ambulance Service (Dublin)

SEAM Technology Gateway have responded to the current global public health crisis by offering their unique skills and experience to companies and those working on the front line. From its Waterford IT base, SEAM provides engineering material solutions in sectors such as biomedical devices, pharmaceuticals, micro-electronics, precision engineering & construction sectors. In recent weeks it has come together with its Additive Manufacturing training centre 3DWIT to provide a range of services to those who need it most.

True to its dedicated commitment of providing continued service to industries, SEAM laboratories has remained open throughout the lock down period,  with its team of researchers and engineers providing vital assistance, support and expertise to companies in the Medical Device and Pharma industry who may require assistance at this time. Whilst the team at 3DWIT have developed a supply line of much needed face shields, necessary to protect our frontline workers. To date SEAM-3DWIT have printed numerous face shields and have delivered to National Ambulance Service in Dublin, various nursing homes and health centres in Waterford and its surroundings, GP surgeries, UHW (University Hospital Waterford) consultants, etc.

SEAM & 3DWIT delivering 3D printed face shields to Nursing homes, health centres & clinicians in Waterford

Focus has now been turned into design & mass producing of HME (Humidity Moisture Exchanger) integrated full face mask for consultants who deal with Covid patients and also for other frontline medical staff.  A consortium headed by SEAM and comprising UHW consultants and few companies are looking to mass produce this face mask locally.

On the importance of providing vital services to the medical and pharma industry as well as those working on the frontline, Technology Gateway Manager Dr. Ramesh Raghavendra said ‘it has been very gratifying to be able to assist who needed most during these unprecedented pandemic times and I am grateful to my staff for their assistance and commitment’.

To find out more about SEAM Technology Gateway check out their website and follow them on Twitter for all the latest news.


Agile Innovation support moves online with a range of innovative Webinars

Discover your next big opportunity at this innovation learning and networking online event.

  • Be inspired by peers.
  • Engage in creative conversations and playful challenges and find out how Enterprise Ireland’s Agile Innovation Fund can help you develop new products, processes and services, ways of working and business models


Enterprise Ireland’s In-Company R&D Supports team, will detail the Agile Innovation Fund, what it’s for, eligibility criteria, the application process and how to access our funding supports.

Fergal Brophy is an Entrepreneurial Specialist at the Innovation Academy, University College Dublin and Founder/MD at Open Innovation Services. His focus is on facilitating and mentoring innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship for Corporates, SMEs and the undergrad/postdoc start-up community

A guest company will be speaking on their successful R&D activity.

Dates and registration links of upcoming webinars are below:

  • Tuesday 19th May:
    Time: 10.30am – 12.30pm
  • Wednesday 27th May: Register here
    Time: 10.30am – 12.30pm
  • Wednesday 3rd June: Register here
    Time: 10.30am – 12.30pm
  • Tuesday 9th June: Register here
    Time: 10.30am – 12.30pm

Agile Innovation Fund

Offering fast-track approval and a streamlined online application process, the new Agile Innovation Fund allows companies to access up to 50% in support for product, process or service development projects with a total cost of up to €300,000. The funding is ideal for Irish companies that need to rapidly develop solutions or are planning a first R&D project and open to eligible clients of Enterprise Ireland, Údaras na Gaeltachta and the Local Enterprise Office. The process has been streamlined for eligible companies with a short online application and fast-track approval. Clients of Enterprise Ireland, Údaras na Gaeltachta and the Local Enterprise Office should contact their Business Adviser in advance of submitting an application.

The Agile fund is part of Enterprise Ireland’s wider Innovation Offer, which includes funding and supports for collaborative research, increasing the innovation capability of companies and funding for large R&D projects.

Further information is available on the Agile Innovation Events web page.

Contact: R&D Unit, Enterprise Ireland,
Tel: 01 727 2120
Email: rdcoreunit@enterprise-ireland.com



TSSG update their company engagement strategy to support businesses online

The Technology Gateway in the Telecommunications and Software Systems Group (TSSG) is a partnership between Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) and Enterprise Ireland which offers supports to Irish companies through various funding and technical mechanism. It’s business as usual for the TSSG team as they continue to work with innovative companies as the world prepares itself to step out of the shadow of COVID-19.  

TSSG is the ICT research and development wing of WIT and employs over 90 software developers, engineers, UX/UI designers and PhD researchers. Dedicated to research in specific focus areas such as Networks & Cloud Computing, VR/AR, Artificial Intelligence, Machine learning, Data Mining and Software System Architecture and Engineering, the TSSG is one of the leading ICT research institutions in Ireland.  

With over 700 project partners, TSSG researchers have their finger on the pulse with new and cutting-edge technologies in the areas of Future Health, Precision Agriculture, Smart Energy, Intelligent Transport Systems & Molecular Communications and Computing. Almost half of the projects currently active in the research centre are direct industry projects working to improve Ireland’s status as a leader in tech start-ups.  

Enterprise Ireland, in a bid to extend access to this expertise, have come up with ways for Irish businesses to engage with the researchers and projects in TSSG.  One of the ways in which you can begin to engage with our experts is through the Innovation Voucher Programme.  

Innovation Voucher Programme 

The TSSG Technology Gateway and Enterprise Ireland can provide supports with a value of €20k maximising the Innovation Voucher Programme. This is a three phased programme which aims to bring you as close to a click-through-demo prototype as possible. The three phases may be used according to your business needs and is fluid to your project development roadmap. Our expert team of UX/UI designers were finalists in the 2019 UX Awards in the ‘UX Achievement in Financial Services’ category for a UX/UI wireframe they developed for a fintech client using the Innovation Voucher Programme. Your company can achieve the same results by following the process outlined in this article which is currently being offered online as the TSSG team continue to work remotely; the only difference is conversations and workshops are conducted via ZOOM or Teams.  

Phase One:  

Innovation Sprint: Using your first voucher worth €5k (you pay the VAT only) enables you to work with a panel of experts cherry-picked according to the skills required for your project.  This can be done as successfully online as it is in person. A Sprint workshop can be used to brainstorm your business needs and match those needs with new technologies. (The steps taken to perform the Sprint are highlighted in the image below.) 

Output: Report outlining a technical strategy 







The sprint process outlined and the Sprint team during Step 4 of the process; brainstorming a prototype  

Phase Two:  

Using the second innovation voucher (worth 5K – you pay the VAT only) you can take the technical strategy and map this into a UX/UI design strategy and align the needs with that of your user.  

This phase brings life to the strategy outlined in the report from phase one.  

Output: UX/UI Strategy – A set of wireframes and user journeys.  

Example UX/UI Strategy 

Phase Three:   

Using the third and final Innovation Voucher (worth €10k, €5k matched by Enterprise Ireland) you will receive a click-through-demo prototype of the application, dashboard, data analytic framework or whatever platform would need to be built. 

Output: Demo Click Through Prototype  

Shown below, the user journey can be explored by clicking though the steps to review the application and view the clients’ experience. 

Screenshots of the click-through-demo prototype 

Next Steps 

  • The demo prototype is a useful tool that you can use for pitching this idea to investors or, if you are an Enterprise Ireland client, you can benefit from the Innovation Partnership Programme (IPP) in order to access funding towards building out the application. The Innovation Partnership Programme offers up to 80% funding by EI and 20% by you, the industry partner and TSSG can continue to develop your solution and realise your goal.  
  • To qualify for the IPP, you must:  
  • Have an Enterprise Ireland Development Advisor (DA) to support your application.  
  • Your business must be in positive EBITA to support the commercialisation of the new platform. 

The Team 

For more information and for support in your application contact the TSSG Technology Gateway team who have been guiding companies through this process for many years. Miguel, Carol and Jim will be delighted to have a friendly chat and advise you on the supports and funding options available. They can also arrange to show you a live demo of a click-through-protype.


     Miguel Ponce De Leon               Carol Faughnan                     Jim Prendergast
      miguelpdl@tssg.org            cfaughnan@tssg.org              jprendergast@tssg.org

This post was originally published on the TSSG website



COVID-19 Treatment Research at TSSG Research Centre

The global pandemic (Covid-19 or SARS-COV-2) has so far killed thousands of people and continues to threaten many more in the very near future. Daily routines have changed for most of the worlds citizens while economies and stock rates plummet the world over. This unified enemy is like nothing the modern world has seen before and, while the negatives mount, many are taking solace in the positives. One such positive is the outstanding community effort from international researchers.

As we are sometime away from administering a vaccine, researchers from various disciplines are working at full capacity around the globe to develop novel solutions to diagnose and treat patients suffering from the virus, as well as preventing from spreading it further.

TSSG are among the broad team of global researchers contributing to the battle against this invisible threat. Their multi-disciplinary research model has the flexibility to re-focus projects with the potential of creating innovative solutions to treatment, prevention and assisting the often-difficult social distancing measures currently in place.

By applying their extensive expertise in information communications technology (ICT), researchers in TSSG are working together to develop both short as well as long term solutions for COVID-19. By incorporating their experience in molecular and bio-nano communications, sensor technology and blockchain, the team in TSSG along with partners in USA and Finland are working on six possible solutions to various issues. Read how TSSG researchers are Integrating COVID-19 technology with society here.

Dr. Sasitharan Balasubramaniam, Director of Research in TSSG, praises his team “We are incredibly proud of how fast our researchers have refocused their strategy and joined together in an attempt to contain this virus. Solving these challenges requires rapid responses and creative solutions and we are hopeful that many of our novel concepts will produce promising results.”

The COVID-19 related projects TSSG researchers are investigating are just the beginning when you consider that studies such as these take years to see results. Many of these initiatives, particularly the research into possible treatments are a long-term effort to overcome not just this virus, but possible illnesses to come.

COVID-19 Treatment Research

This virus knows no boundaries. Breathing difficulties and shortness of breath are a key indicator of the illness and fatality rates are high among people with underlying health issues such as asthma. Reducing the long-term effect of a patient diagnosed with COVID-19 is paramount. The number of patients leaving hospital to continue their recovery at home without the need for ventilators or oxygen is ever increasing however researchers have asked the question: What does this mean for the health of the lungs? Does this have a lasting effect? Experts from TSSG, Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), USA, and the University of Tampere (UTA), Finland are investigating.

Treating Lung Tissue Damage due to COVID-19

Recent analysis of patients suffering from COVID-19 have found that stem cells can be used to repair lung damage as well as control the immune system to suppress cytokine storms (body starts to attack its own cells rather than the virus). Based on this, this specific research is looking at a new delivery mechanism of stem cells encapsulated into a polymer container into the lungs via a ventilator. Once in the right location, the nanoscale devices can be broken down using ultrasound signals emitted externally from outside the body. This will allow precise delivery of the stem cells to the damaged location within the lungs therefore aiding cell and subsequently patient recovery. The nanodevice will remain dormant in the lungs in the event a patient is re-infected.

Researchers: Bruna Fonseca (TSSG), Dr. Michael Barros (University of Tampere, Finland), Dr. Sasitharan Balasubramaniam (TSSG), Prof. David Borkholder (Rochester Institute of Technology, USA), Dr. Mark White (WIT) and Dr. Lee Coffey (TSSG, PMBRC)

(A) Illustrates MSC deposited into the alveoli of the lungs, and (b) illustrates the ultrasound signals emitted to break the polymer casing of the nanodevice.

Molecular Communication modelling of COVID-19 in the Respiratory System

When the COVID-19 virus enters the respiratory system, it uses the Angiotensin Converting Enzyme 2 (ACE2), found in the respiratory system, to bind and enter cells. Once COVID-19 has entered the cell the proteins within the virus will block the innate response of the immune system and replicate before being released into the body.

Depending on different factors such as the compromised immune systems and underlying health conditions, the severity of the COVID-19 infection could vary from mild to critical.

Molecular communication model of COVID-19 virus propagation in the respiratory system.

Researchers in TSSG are studying the unpredictability of the virus within the respiratory system to identify the varying levels of infections in patients using an emerging paradigm knows as molecular communications. Molecular communication uses theory from communication engineering and networks to enables us to characterise biological communication processes. In other words, the theory will allow researchers to build a mathematical model to characterise the spread of the COVID-19 virus in the respiratory system. The model created by TSSG primarily characterises the propagation of virus particles through airway tracks and their deposition on the airway surfaces in the respiratory system. This is modelled by considering the flow of air in the upper (e.g., trachea) and lower (e.g., alveoli) regions of the respiratory system, respectively.  This aim of researchers is that this model would give insights to possible treatments for COVID-19 and future life-threatening viruses by designing vaccines depending on the level of infection in different organs.   

Researchers: Dixon Vimalajeewa (TSSG), Prof. Donagh Berry (Teagasc), Dr. Sasitharan Balasubramaniam (TSSG)

Clinical Data as a Service platform (CDaaS)

Figure 1 Overall workflow of the Machine Learning (ML) system in CDaaS

The global problem of antibiotic resistance is fast becoming one of the major scientific issues of modern times. The development of new antibiotics is slow and difficult work, but bacterial resistance is decreasing our arsenal of existing drugs posing a catastrophic threat as ordinary infections become untreatable. This is a particularly evident in the current COVID-19 pandemic. Currently, there is no efficient and fast technical solution to overcome this phenomenon, rather the diagnosis is based on clinical examination in a doctor’s clinic or in hospital, in addition to some biochemical tests in labs which might take up to a few days to get the results.

CDaaS uses artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning technology to provide infection identification of either bacterial or viral causes, based on samples provided to the CDaaS system by the Point of Care (PoC) givers i.e. GPs or consultants. The CDaaS (Clinical Data as a Service) platform gives GPs, surgeons and third parties access to synthesised diagnostic medical data allowing them to determine an early and accurate infection diagnosis solution.

The heart of CDaaS is an AI machine learning-based system that provides the critical analysis for submitted biomarker samples, i.e. blood pressure, body temperature, based on multiple indicators within the samples.

CDaaS focuses on extending the market around lab-on-a-chip devices while enabling the creation of a mobile application that can assist medical doctors in assessing the nature of infections in the GP practice or hospital setting. This will be imperative to the rate of diagnosing patients with COVID-19 thus reducing the spread of the virus.

Researchers: Martin Tolan (TSSG), Yahya Almardeny (TSSG), Peter Scanlon (TSSG) Frances Cleary (TSSG).

This post was originally published on the TSSG website


How can High Performance Thin Layer Chromatography (HPTLC) help your company?

In Enterprise Ireland’s Institutes of Technology Capital Call 2019, Shannon ABC were successfully awarded a HPTLC suite to the value of €105,000. This suite is the first of its kind in Ireland available for commercial and research projects, and can be used for a range of applications:

  • Pharmaceutical – Quality Control; Content Uniformity Test; Identity and purity checks; stability tests
  • Herbals – Identification; Stability tests; Detection of adulteration; Assay of marker compounds
  • Clinical – Lipids; metabolism studies; drug screening; doping control
  • Food and Feed – Quality Control; Analysis of additives e.g. vitamins; pesticides; stability tests
  • Cosmetics – Identity of raw material; Analysis of preservatives, colouring materials etc; screening of illegal ingredients
  • Biotechnology – Characterization of enzymes (product profiles); Proteomics (coupling HPTLC to Mass Spectrometry); Process development and optimization;
  • Process monitoring – Cleaning validation,
  • Environment – Water; soil; residue analysis
  • Forensics – Molecule investigation; dyestuff analyses

What is Chromatography?

Chromatography is a scientific method used to separate different components in a mixture and to identify key compounds of interest present in the mixture. The process involves applying a very small sample of the mixture to a solid, porous layer (stationary phase) and passing a liquid solvent (mobile phase) through this stationary phase. The components in the sample will pass through the stationary phase at different rates, depending how much they like to stick to it or their preference to move with the mobile liquid phase.

Thin layer chromatography (TLC) uses a layer of silica poured onto a glass plate as a stationary phase. The mobile phase is placed in the bottom of a glass container and the glass plate, to which the test samples have been applied, is placed into this. As the mobile phase passes up through the glass plate, the compounds will adhere to the stationary phase at different rates leading to separation of components.

What is HPTLC?

High Performance Thin Layer Chromatography (HPTLC) gives much greater resolution and separation of components than normal TLC. It uses chromatographic stationary phases with excellent separation efficiency and employs state of the art instrumentation for all steps in the procedure. This includes precise sample application, standardized reproducible chromatogram development and software-controlled evaluation. HPTLC shows at a glance the similarities and differences between samples and references. Therefore, it can be used for analysis of raw materials & finished products, for the determination of purity (adulteration/fraud) and stability studies (shelf life). It can also be used for process development i.e. samples can be analysed at different stages of a process. By using reference standards, compounds can be quantified precisely.

HPTLC is a rapid cost-effective method in comparison to other separation methods and analysis of many samples in parallel takes typically less than an hour to run. Because the HPTLC plates are disposable, samples with biologically complex compounds (high matrix content) can be analysed. The equivalent samples in more sophisticated chromatography techniques (e.g. LCMS, HPLC and GCMS) would lead to column clogging. Considerably much less solvent is used for mobile phase in HPTLC as compared to other chromatography techniques making it more environmentally friendly and cost effective. As HPTLC has a non-destructive nature, analytes can be eluted after separation and identified using our existing equipment in laboratory e.g. Mass Spectrometry.

What does the equipment consist of?

The HPTLC suite is composed of a number of components.

  1. Sample Applicator – Application of sample to stationary phase i.e. TLC/HPTLC plate
  2. Development Chamber – Separation of components
  3. Derivatizer set and Plate heater – Derivatization: Chemical spraying of plate to detect compounds not visible under white/UV light
  4. Documentation System and TLC Scanner – Visualization/Evaluation of TLC/HPTLC plate
  5. Band cutting instrument which can be connected to existing Mass Spectrometers – MS Analysis (optional): Bands can be cut from TLC/HPTLC plate and identified on our existing Mass Spectrometers
  6. Software for operation of equipment and analysis – Qualitative and Quantitative Analysis of Results

If you would like more information on this system, and how it may be of help for your company, please contact Dr Catherine Collins, Business Development Scientist (Catherine.Collins@lit.ie) or Dr Tim Yeomans, Centre Manager (tim.yeomans@staff.ittralee.ie).


TSSG researchers integrate COVID-19 technology with society

Technology has played a critical role in the society of today as many people transition to remote working, remote schooling, remote shopping and remote socialising. While people have quickly adapted to this new way of life with little hesitation there is growing uncertainty of when society will return to ‘normal’. TSSG researchers have asked the questions: What is the new normal? Can technology play a role in ‘living’ with the virus? To answer these questions, they have applied their diverse expertise in an attempt to answer what is currently perceived as unanswerable; when can we visit family and friends again?

Contact Quotas to prevent COVID-19

Social-distancing is the term of 2020 and is the current advise enforced on almost every global citizen prevent the spread of COVID-19. This measure will only slow the spread of the virus as it is likely we will be living with it for the foreseeable future. The advice is to stay 2metres apart from anyone outside of your household or, if necessary, only talk to someone for 15minutes to help reduce the spread. However, if you speak to someone on the street for 5 minutes you still can spread the virus just the chances of it are lower.

 Maintaining contact quotas to prevent spreading of COVID-19.

Researchers has asked the question; how much personal contact can one have a day and not get infected? The simple answer is 0 or close to it which is the number the current government restrictions strives to achieve. Any number above 0 implies a certain level of risk for the individual to spread the disease. Many people use quotas to track calorie intake and weight-loss which is the approach TSSG and the American International University-Bangladesh have taken to help people understand and monitor their contact quota.

So, how hard is it estimate the social quota and can HSE do it? In short, very. As shown in the figure above, a possible solution will incorporate a number of components. In order for the HSE to obtain the data they need to appropriate a suitable quota. To identify this quota every member of the public would be encouraged to share their contact history anonymously and safely. In other words, the HSE will know how many people one citizen has been in contact with and names and personal information is unnecessary therefore privacy is ensured. This data can then be applied to one of the epidemiological (control of infection diseases) platforms to evaluate the possible impact of various quotas and calculate the risk of further spread of COVID-19. Based on the risk values, the HSE will then be able to select the lowest quota figure and communicate it to the public via various platforms including the Contact Tracing App.

Researchers: Dr. Stepan Ivanov (TSSG), Sirajum Munir Fahim (American International University-Bangladesh).


Safe-To-Work: Blockchain-based Certification of Compliance with Public Health Policies

While the current stay-at-home policy helps to suppress the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the impact of the policy is anticipated to be both significant and long-lasting. Before the peak of the pandemic, a blanket stay-at-home solution is justifiable, but the policy needs to change when Ireland enters the maintenance phase.

To mitigate the risk of a second wave of the pandemic, the return of workers will need to be carried out gradually and controlled by the Public Health Authorities. The returning workers will be required to adhere to social distancing which is difficult to police. The compliance can be monitored via various social distancing apps coupled with the use of advanced data analytics and mathematical modelling. However, none of the apps currently available provide a mechanism for the authorities to: (1) enable safe return of workers, and (2) encourage compliance with social distancing by the returning individuals.

Block-chain Safe-to-Work certification for people returning to work.

This project aims to develop a Blockchain Safe-to-Work certification solution to help the authorities perform both tasks. An individual may be issued a Safe-To-Work certificate confirming the safety of their temporary return. The certificate will be issued on the basis of their recent contact history and their compliance with distancing advice from Public Health Authorities. If there is evidence of recovery from the virus, a certificate may be issued by a qualified medical practitioner after certain tests have been done. The certificates will enable an organisation to make a judgment on whether the individual can return to their place of work.

Researchers: Dr. Stepan Ivanov (TSSG), Dr. Brendan Jennings (TSSG), Miguel Ponce de Leon (TSSG), Dr. Bernard Butler (TSSG), Dr. Steven Davy (TSSG).


Ensuring Social distancing through Wearables

Researchers are working towards an inconspicuous wearable solution to track and assess the social distancing measures by raising awareness of how people implement these guidelines within their community and work environments. TSSG is actively developing a new and innovative wearable device that can help citizens to monitor the effectiveness of their social distancing efforts and to be more informed on their practice of social distancing in real time. This wearable device solution has the potential to greatly impact and provide benefits for multiple user groups such as

1. Manufacturing / industry organisations: The device will help the workforce and health and safety teamto monitor employee adoption of social distancing best practice and identify the need for additional measure to be implemented/

2. Services such as hospitality and retail: The device will be capable of monitoring the behaviour of their staff and stimulate compliance amongst the customers.

3. Healthcare facilities such as care homes, hospitals, GP practices: The device will support routine social distance compliance monitoring as well as helping visitors to maintain a safe distance from vulnerable individuals in such environments.

4. Everyday citizen engagement (adults, kids, elderly): The device will provide these groups the opportunity to gain an insight and a higher level of awareness around their social distancing practices and areas for improvement.

Wearable electronic device to monitor social distancing.

Researchers: Yahya Almardeny (TSSG), Frances Cleary (TSSG), Dr. Stepan Ivanov (TSSG), Dr. Brendan Jennings (TSSG), Dr. Sasitharan Balasubramaniam (TSSG).

This post was originally published on the TSSG website


IMaR develop a new Online Level 8 Industry 4.0 & Industrial Internet of Things programme

IMaR Technology Gateway based in Institute of Technology Tralee (ITT) provides research, development and bespoke training expertise in electronic and mechanical hardware, software, IoT and data analytics, working with companies in the manufacturing, agriculture and process sectors.

Following substantial interest and feedback from our industry partners and the South-West Regional Skills Forum, IMaR, working with the academic staff in the School of STEM, IT Tralee, recently developed an Industry 4.0 and Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) Level 8 programme to assist our manufacturing sector clients to up-skill their workforce. The course also gives manufacturing sector employees the chance to gain a qualification in this advancing area. An additional benefit is the “blended learning” delivery, with all evening lectures and tutorials being offered online, with hands-on practical sessions delivered over two to three days per semester at IT Tralee. By gaining approval for the course under the HEA Springboard+ program, 90% of course costs are government funded.

The ever increasing prominence and relevance of IIoT within industry only serves to highlight the growing need for a programme such as this. IIoT aims to assist manufacturers navigate current challenges, allow for greater machine connectivity, improved operational process insight, greater product traceability and the ability to react to changes in the manufacturing process quicker and more efficiently. The modules on this new programme reflect industry’s current needs, address technologies in advanced manufacturing and provide their staff with the broad range of skills required. The programme modules are:

  • Instrumentation & Interfacing
  • Industrial Internet of Things: Applications
  • Industrial Networks, Distributed Systems & Cloud Computing
  • Industry 4.0: Cyber Physical Systems
  • Machine Learning/Data for Internet of Things

Fully accredited by IT Tralee, the Level 8 part-time programme in Industry 4.0 & Industrial Internet of Things is also available via the Springboard initiative and recently commenced in ITT with 20 registered students. On finishing, students will gain a Level 8 Certificate Award (Special Purpose). The programme also has a progression route to other Level 8 degree programs such as the degree in Manufacturing Engineering.

Of the importance of this new programme to industry, IMaR Technology Gateway Manager Daniel Riordan said:

“Having been approached about providing IIoT training to manufacturing staff by many of our industry partners, and with a history of providing bespoke training, we saw the opportunity to create a certified training course in the area of IIoT. The course is designed to prepare engineering staff for advancements in the manufacturing sector towards the introduction of Industry 4.0, leading to more efficient, agile factories producing higher quality products.”

For further information on the new Industry 4.0 and Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) programme please see here. You can also find out more about IMaR or follow them on Twitter and LinkedIn


CAPPA Receives over €550,000 in Commercialisation Funding from Enterprise Ireland

The Centre for Advanced Photonics and Process Analysis (CAPPA) is delighted to announce that it recently received over €550,000 worth of funding for two projects, PIXCAN and Photocell, through the Enterprise Ireland Commercialisation Fund program. When asked about receiving the funding, centre manager Dr Liam Lewis said, “We are delighted to have received this funding for the Enterprise Ireland Commercialisation Fund and are looking forward to beginning work on these new projects.”

The aim of the Enterprise Ireland commercialisation fund programme is to improve the competitiveness of the Irish economy through the creation of technology-based start – up companies and the transfer of innovations developed in Higher Education Institutes and Research Performing Organisations to industry in Ireland. The programme will fund the development of innovations at all stages of the commercial pipeline to the point where they can be commercialised as new products, services and companies. Proposals are funding from €80,000 to €350,000 from all disciplines in the field of science and engineering.

PhotoCell, funded in two stages up to €349,000, will create new, a robust, low – cost technology for selective marking of somatic cells in raw milk. Somatic cell count (SCC) is indicative of animal health and is a deciding factor on further processing or disposal of the batch. The new platform will address common problems with existing methods of SCC and be based on surface – functional fluorescence nanodiamonds and intelligent image analysis. SCC is a key indicator for early detection of mastitis, one of the costliest diseases in dairy cattle. The standard biomarkers such as Propidium lodide or Ethidium Bromide that are commonly used for flow cytometry, suffer from the problem of photobleaching, photoblinking, cytotoxicity and limited shelf lifetime. PhotoCell will employ functionalized fluorescent nanodiamonds (f – FNDs), which are not cytotoxic. In contrast to organic dyes, f – FNDs are non – photobleachable even under continuous, long – term and high power illumination, and they are structurally stable. The number of somatic cells will be counted with high precision by means of optical analysis of raw milk samples. PhotoCell will be an optical based platform, which will facilitate high accuracy field-testing of SCC. The technology will be based on low – cost hardware such as Raspberry Pi and/ or iOS and Android smartphones.

PIXCAN’s goal is to build a wafer scale-testing platform for these photonic integrated circuits based on Resonant Scattering Spectroscopy (RSS) and received €209,000. Most of the today’s internet services require huge data centre support. Within the data centers, data is exchanged between the server racks through optical fibers. The current optical transceivers are based on Mach-Zehnder interferometers, which have unsustainable-huge power consumption and large footprint. One of the main bottlenecks to bring this advanced technology into the market is the lack of wafer scale testing techniques, due to the non-light emitting nature of these resonators. This requires integration of sophisticated optical alignment algorithms, machine learning based device recognition on wafers, combined with high speed, high precision 3D moving platform. A proof-of-concept RSS set-up has been built at CAPPA and found to have the capability to reach the throughput required for wafer scale testing of devices. The proposed RSS based wafer scale testing technology is novel and requires low-maintenance and low-consumables compared to the existing and emerging technologies in the market, thus creating a great commercial opportunity. The primary benefit from this project for the Irish economy will be the formation of a new start-up company by providing innovative RSS Q-test systems services to a growing silicon photonics global market. PIXCAN aims to become a High-Potential Start-Up and create knowledge-based sustainable jobs in Ireland.

You can learn more about the Enterprise Ireland Commercialisation Funding, here and about the different projects CAPPA is currently working on here.

This post was originally published on the CAPPA website