Second SmartOcean Conference

Ambassador Geraldine Byrne Nason addressing the workshopDelegates at the Second SmartOcean Conference - Driving New Business Opportunities at the Interface of ICT and the Sea - at the Marine Institute in Oranmore, Galway, this week (Tuesday 5th July), heard how Ireland is uniquely positioned to leverage its technical expertise in targeting opportunities within the trillion dollar global marine sector. 

Photo: Ambassador Geraldine Byrne Nason addressing the workshop

The workshop was organised by the Institute to explore the opportunities for economic growth presented by the convergence of new technologies such as robotics, sensors, grid and cloud computing, with applications to marine related activities such as environmental monitoring, ocean energy, marine safety and aquaculture.


All across the world, next generation information and communications technologies are needed to allow the sustainable economic development of our oceans which, as a source of food, transport and energy is our greatest natural resource,” said Dr. Peter Heffernan, CEO of the Marine Institute.“Ireland has over 220 million acres of marine area and, as a country with a strong expertise in ICT, has significant potential to be a world leader in the provision ICT enabled decision support tools to the global marine sector.”


Mr Mike Devane from Quilly Consultants chairing the panel discussion.

Ireland already has over 50 companies providing ICT solutions to the global marine sector.  Irish research expertise highlighted at the SmartOcean workshop included: the development of unmanned, autonomous and remotely operated underwater vehicles at the Mobile Marine Robotics Research Centre of the University of Limerick; advanced computer simulation of marine data from the company RealSim; and real time acoustic monitoring of marine mammals such as whales and dolphins by Biospheric.  

Meanwhile, the MERC consortium in Cork have successful projects underway in ocean energy,  maritime technologies and security and, at Dublin City University the MESTECH Marine & Environmental Sensing Technology Hub has successful projects underway in the areas of visual sensing, the prevention of biofouling in the aquatic environment and specialised sensing platforms that can provide biological and chemical analysis remotely.


Ms Yvonne Shields from the Marine Institute discusses using SmartBay as a catalyst for developing Ireland’s SmartOcean cluster.

“While there are significant challenges for the development of reliable technology solutions that can survive deployment in the challenging and dynamic conditions of our marine environment, great progress has already been made in Ireland,” said Dr. Barbara Fogarty, Co-ordinator of Ireland’s National Marine Technology Programme. “This is due to competitive research funding provided by national and international sources, including the Marine Institute which has supported projects across the ICT sector."

Presentations at the Conference ranged from updates on the development and use of intelligent machines for underwater inspection to the use of wireless technologies to enable offshore developments and environmental monitoring, as well as offshore aquaculture development, wave energy generation and marine security.


Attendees at the second Annual SmartOcean Conference held at the Marine Institute.



For further information, please contact: 

The Communications Section – Marine Institute: 091 387200 

Photography: Aengus McMahon

Notes to Editor


Ireland’s National Facility for Marine ICT ‘SmartBay’ was also profiled at the event.  Established as a pilot project in 2008 off the west coast of Ireland, SmartBay was designed to provide a real world test environment for the development of technology products and services for the global marine sector. 

Key industry partners who have trialled technologies in the infrastructure to date include companies not immediately associated with the marine sector such as IBM, which has web portals that display data on environmental conditions, and Intel who have developed a wireless communication system to help transmit data from the marine environment in real time. 

These technologies are also being connected to smart phones and mobile devices to deliver real time updates on changing weather and sea state conditions. Gaming technologies are also being investigated for the creation of virtual oceans and to act as interactive design tools for marine spatial offshore explorations.   

Each of these companies form part of Ireland’s developing SmartOcean Cluster – now standing at a group of over 50 companies throughout Ireland focussed on the development and delivery of innovative marine ICT applications to global markets.

Through the SmartOcean Cluster, Irish-based multinational corporations and indigenous companies are working together to capitalise on new market opportunities linked to the Digital Ocean. The Marine Institute and other State agencies are supporting these companies by providing access to state assets such as research ships, underwater vehicles and offshore test beds as well as facilitating collaborative research opportunities.