Meet the Team… John Barry, IMaR 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 John Barry, Technology Gateway Manager at IMaR Gateway, based at Munster Technological University. John describes his role, discusses what makes the gateway unique, the importance of IMaR within the region and advice for those companies considering RD&I.

Tell us a bit about IMaR Technology Gateway?

We deliver solutions and prototype products and processes to enterprises across Ireland, usually by leveraging the innovation funding supports from Enterprise Ireland. Our core expertise is electronics, mechatronics, automation technologies, software systems, Internet of Things, RFID and data analytics. By drawing on the skills and experience of over 35 research engineers, we provide enterprises across all sectors with deliverables such as connected devices for sports and therapeutics, process monitoring and control, data analytics and artificial intelligence for services platforms and flexible automated production solutions. We work with clients of all sizes, including start-ups, SME’s and multi-nationals.

Describe your role within the Gateway?

My job is to engage enterprises who want to innovate, be it new product development or process optimisation, to understand their needs and opportunities and to assist them realise their ambitions. In many cases, we decide with clients to collaboratively engage in research and development projects resulting in the delivery of near-to-market solutions. Other times, it is as much about helping the client understand what a technology is about or to connect to colleagues in other Gateways, research organisations or companies. With colleagues in IMaR and MTU, we find the most experienced researchers to tackle a given problem and then handle the administration of projects, from funding applications to project management. Client engagement is essential throughout the project and in IMaR, the team takes great pride in the fact that most clients engage in multiple projects over many years reflecting the strong relationships the team have formed and the reputation for delivering on projects.

What’s unique about the Gateway and its presence in the region?

Like all Gateways, we have a particular technology focus; for IMaR, it is digital, RFID, mechatronics and automation. This is backed up by the depth of engineering and digital expertise and multi-disciplinary capabilities across MTU. IMaR has very strong connections to enterprises in the region. Many of these long-standing relationships have benefited both IMaR and the Client company, where we together learn and apply emerging technologies.

IMaR is a member of the Applied IoT cluster, how can companies benefit from your collaboration?

From sensors to process implementation, the Applied IoT Cluster provides world-class RD&I services to companies nationwide. Combining the knowledge base and skillset of five Enterprise Ireland Technology Gateways, the cluster is equipped to assist companies with projects requiring expert technical advice and application development across the broad spectrum that is the Internet of Things. The Applied IoT cluster’s extensive experience in delivery of near-to-market solutions has provided an array of benefits to many companies during their journey from product to market and in some cases have become an integral part in their ongoing research and development. Central to the cluster’s offering is its team of over one-hundred dedicated research engineers possessing a wealth of experience and knowledge across the entire IoT technology stack.

What is the first step/s for a company considering an innovation project?

Contact a Technology Gateway. The Gateways exist so as to support enterprises to innovate and as a state-funded service, every enterprise, irrespective of size, sector or responsible state agency, in entitled to avail of our time and experience. We are acutely aware of the sensitivities around disclosing innovative concepts and intellectual property rights and as such, we arrange non-disclosure agreements with most clients at a very early stage in the discussions.

What is your one piece of innovation advice?

Undertake some market research and establish what similar products exist or how others have solved the problem. In the case of new product development, identify your unique selling points and frame the innovation need initially in terms of what creates value or satisfaction for the customer. Engagement with the Gateways will help refine the scope of the development and the specific deliverables. Innovation is about turning ideas into revenue and the Gateways role in this is to provide the enabling technologies.

To find out more about IMaR or talk to the team, check out their website or follow them on Twitter or LinkedIn