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Minister Heather Humphreys launches €14.5 million SFI research programme, ENABLE

ENABLE will engage the public in developing Internet of Things solutions for urban environments 

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys, T.D., together with Minister of State for Training, Skills, Research, and Development, John Halligan, T.D., have launched ENABLE – a new €14.5 million Science Foundation Ireland research programme which will examine how the Internet of Things can be used to improve the quality of life for ordinary citizens living in urban environments.  

ENABLE’s academic researchers will work in partnership with over 25 companies including large multinationals such as Intel and Huawei, and SMEs such as Cork-based Accuflow. The ENABLE research programme will address a wide range of topics including water management, air pollution, transport congestion, data privacy and cyber security. It will receive €10 million from Science Foundation Ireland and a further €4.5 million through collaborative research agreements with industry partners.

ENABLE will be led by Professor Siobhán Clarke at Trinity College Dublin and will include 60 researchers in three existing Science Foundation Ireland Research Centres - CONNECT, Insight and Lero.  The researchers will be based in Trinity College Dublin, Dublin City University, Cork Institute of Technology, Maynooth University, NUI Galway, University College Cork and University of Limerick.

Speaking at the launch of ENABLE, Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys, T.D., said: “ENABLE’s research focus is strategically important. Up to 70% of the world’s population is expected to live in urban areas by 2050: this will increase pressure on resources and infrastructure in our towns and cities. Innovative, technology-based solutions will be part of how we address this global challenge and I am glad that this new Science Foundation Ireland funded programme, ENABLE, will explore creative solutions to issues such as air pollution, energy management, flooding, traffic congestion, and data security. 

ENABLE will involve significant collaboration with multiple industry partners ranging from large multinationals to SMEs. This engagement will ensure that the research outcomes will have industrial relevance. 

I also welcome ENABLE’s ambitious plans to take its research outside the lab by using test-beds such as Croke Park and the Mallow Urban Rural Testbed, so ensuring that the research outcomes will find practical applications.”

Also speaking at the launch of ENABLE, Minister of State for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development, John Halligan, T.D., said: “ENABLE is building on the success of three world leading Science Foundation Ireland Research Centres: CONNECT Centre for Networks and Communications, Insight Centre for Data Analytics and Lero Software Research Centre. These three Centres are world leaders in their respective fields. Between them they have won over €47 million in highly competitive EU Horizon 2020 research funding over recent years, as well as attracting investments in excess of €22 million from industry partners who have collaborated with the Centres on more than 210 targeted research projects. 

SFI programmes such as ENABLE are of critical importance to Ireland’s economy. In addition to world-class scientific research, they also contribute to job creation and the development of a vibrant ecosystem for innovation and entrepreneurship.

They also provide us with a competitive edge as we seek to win further international funding, attract new research talent into the country, and expand our industry-academia partnerships.”Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Advisor to the Government of Ireland, said: “ENABLE is funded under Science Foundation Ireland’s Spokes Programme. The Spokes Programme allows existing SFI Research Centres to focus on new research priorities, and to expand further by involving new industry partners and new academic researchers.

The high industry cost-share component of ENABLE’s funding reflects the importance and urgency of its research programme to industry.  We expect ENABLE to deliver excellent research results and, through its collaboration with its industry partners, to deliver significant economic and societal impact during its lifetime.

I am particularly pleased to see that ENABLE has included citizen engagement as a core activity. The involvement of the public in academic research will result in solutions which are relevant to solving ordinary, everyday challenges. This ensures that the technology of the future will be placed at the service of the citizen.”

Commenting at the launch, Professor Siobhán Clarke, Director of ENABLE, said: “ENABLE will work with our industry partners and via citizen engagement to address the challenges that currently limit the potential benefits of the Internet of Things for communities. Our research aims to enable smarter buildings, more efficient transportation, better handling of environmental issues, and enhanced cyber security and data privacy. These challenges align with our industry partners’ priorities ensuring economic as well as social impact.

Current solutions for smart cities tend to be siloed and do not share data. This limits the ability to exploit the connectedness of our environments.

ENABLE’s academic-industry consortium will focus on the scientific and engineering problems of developing innovative software services for smarter buildings, smart mobility, and improved environments in urban and community areas.” 


For further information, please contact Sarah O’Connor, Drury | Porter Novelli (087 222 5995)

Photos will be distributed to picture desks ca. midday, Wednesday, 31 January, by Maxwell Photography (01-8308072) 

Notes to Editors:

  1. ENABLE is co-funded under the European Regional Development Fund.
  2. The Director of ENABLE is Prof. Siobhán Clarke, Trinity College Dublin. The Deputy Director is Prof. Noel O’Connor, Dublin City University. Prof. Dirk Pesch (Cork Institute of Technology) and Prof. Ken Brown (University College Cork) are members of the Steering Committee.
  3. ENABLE has emerged from the work of three existing SFI research centres:
    1. CONNECT is the world leading Science  Foundation Ireland Research Centre for Future Networks and Communications. It is a multi-institute research centre headquartered at Trinity College Dublin with 250 researchers at Trinity, Cork Institute of Technology, Dublin City University, Dublin Institute of Technology,    Maynooth University, University College Cork, University College Dublin, University of Limerick, TSSG at Waterford Institute of Technology and Tyndall National Institute, Cork.
    2. Insight will bring its particular  expertise on data and intelligent systems. Data is changing our world. Data analytics is taking the guesswork out of decision making in society, and Artificial Intelligence is helping us to apply the right decisions where and when they are needed. They have the potential to improve our approach to everything from hospital waiting lists to energy use to  advertising. Trust and respect are vitally important when it comes to data and Insight has already made headlines for its proposal that we need a Magna Carta for Data to help us to come to terms with issues in the field of data ethics.
    3. Lero, the Irish software research centre, which brings together leading software research teams from across the country is now one of the best  known and highly regarded software-related research centres in the world  Software engineers and developers represent between 5 and 10% of  Ireland’s workforce. In addition, a significant proportion of Irish start-up companies are software-based and there is a thriving ecosystem  emerging across the country. Software-based systems are increasingly important to economic activity and to the normal functioning of our  everyday lives.