Minister for Agriculture, Marine and Food Mr. Simon Coveney TD was present yesterday (June 1st) at the signing of a unique memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the Marine Institute and the Irish SME Intune Networks to develop the next generation of subsea sensing and communications technologies for commercial application worldwide.
Photo Left to Right: Yvonne Shields - Director of Strategic Planning and Development Services (Marine Institute), John Dunne - Chief Technical Officer (InTunes Networks), Minister Coveney and Dr. Peter Heffernan - (CEO Marine Institute) at the signing of the MoU. (Photo: Fennell Photography)
This new public-private partnership is just one result of the Marine Institute’s efforts to establish the SmartOcean Cluster – a group of 50 companies throughout Ireland focused on the development and delivery of innovative marine ICT applications to global markets.
“The partnership between the Marine Institute and Intune Networks will explore the opportunity not only to deploy Intune’s world leading technology in the marine environment, but also the opportunity to interconnect SmartBay – Ireland, the National Test Facility for Marine ICT in Galway Bay to the National Exemplar Test bed for telecommunications technologies,” said Minister Coveney. “This fusion of marine ICT and advanced telecommunications could provide a wide range of opportunities for Irish ICT companies developing new products and services as well as providing a world-class Marine ICT test-bed here in Ireland capable of attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) and research investments.”
Over the past six months the Marine Institute and Intune Networks have been working together and are part of a European consortium that has successfully secured a major European FP7 research project worth €5 million. The project is entitled EnviroFI and the Marine Institute and Intune share is valued at half a million euros. The project seeks to harness the next generation of internet technologies for the development of new products and services for marine related sectors. The research consortium will utilise Intune’s patented optical technology to trial new concepts for the delivery of decision support and ‘on-demand’ information tools for the marine sector.
“Society is gearing up for a new digital world where information generated by people and sensors in our natural environment can be used productively in real time”, said Dr. Peter Heffernan CEO of the Marine Institute. “The future Internet will be used for provision of data to key marine sectors such as shipping, offshore energy, aquaculture, environmental monitoring and marine leisure”. Current internet technology is not capable of managing the myriad of future data streams, and will need to be further developed to address issues of resilience and safety. Ultra fast internet holds the key to delivering sustainable economic and social benefits.
Mr John Dunne, Chief Technology Officer of Intune Networks, said that the project formed part of a significant programme of research linked to Europe’s Digital Agenda, a roadmap for advancing the digital economy in Europe. “This partnership between Intune Networks and the Marine Institute puts Ireland in a strong competitive position in a newly developing technology space which is led by industry and driven by users,” he said. “With total funding of approximately 300 million Euro over the period 2011-2013 committed by the Commission and a further 300 million committed by Industry, the programme aims to bridge the gap between private and public interests, between the technology development and its deployment and commercialisation.”
Key partners on the development of EnviroFI marine use cases include the IT Innovation Centre at Southampton and SINTEF Norway – the largest independent research organisation in Scandinavia. The project will use Ireland’s test beds – both in marine ICT (SmartBay Ireland) and in telecommunications (Exemplar Network). The Marine Institute and Intune Networks will also continue to actively engage with participants in Irelands Ireland’s SmartOcean Cluster which includes over 50 companies and leading research centres of excellence focused on the development of Hi Tech Products and Services for the global marine sector.