Irish mobile and wireless tech innovators announced a number of new deals and partnerships at the most recent Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona in February.

“This is the leading event for mobile and wireless telecommunications and brings Irish innovation to a world audience,” said David Byrne, manager of the electronics division at Enterprise Ireland.

22 companies supported by Enterprise Ireland, the trade and innovation agency, attended this year’s event, including innovators such as Cubic Telecom, Asavie, Openet and iKydz. 13 companies showcased solutions in the area of emerging technologies at the Irish Pavilion stand.

MWC is the largest mobile event in the world, bringing together the latest innovations and cutting-edge technology from more than 2,400 companies.

Global tech deals at Mobile World Congress 2019

Five Irish companies announced deals with global tech giants such as Microsoft and Samsung at the event.

Openet, who offers real-time software solutions and services, announced a partnership with Samsung, who will adopt their products in North America.

Leaders in connected intelligence, Cubic Telecom, will collaborate on the Microsoft Connected Vehicle Platform, and also announced a deal with European car manufacturer Skoda.

Two new partnerships were announced by Asavie, one with Horizon for the North American market, and another with Amazon Web Services. Asavie offers solutions in the secure mobile and Internet of Things (IoT) spaces.

Irish digital parenting company iKydz launched a sim card that allows parents to govern their children’s internet usage. Speaking at MWC, iKydz’s Paul Van Den Bergh said, “It’s proving very popular with operators around the world.”

Welcoming the announcements at Mobile World Congress was Seán Canney, TD, Minister of State for Natural Resources, Community Affairs and Digital Development, who said, “As a country that wants to be at the forefront of digital technology, this is where it is happening. It’s probably the world stage for technology companies.”

Vehicle Electronics & Connected Services Conference. Taking place in Scandinavia’s automotive hub, Gothenburg, this event is focused on Electronics & Architecture, Autonomous vehicles & Active safety, Test & Validation, E-Mobility, Cybersecurity & Connectivity.

E+I Engineering has developed innovative distribution systems that greatly reduce installation times.

As the world becomes smaller and more interconnected, it also becomes more competitive for business. With customers enjoying a world of options to meet their requirements, finding a competitive advantage in the global landscape can be a challenge.

Irish firm E+I Engineering found their competitive edge by delivering power solutions that greatly reduce installation times, take up less space, and are completely bespoke.

As the world’s biggest companies build larger and more complex headquarters and data centres, the need for tailored power solutions grows. A 2014 estimate calculated data centre power usage alone costs US businesses $13bn annually.

E+I is well placed to meet that need. Founded in 1986 in Derry in Northern Ireland, the company moved across the Irish border to Donegal, a county on the Republic’s north-western coast, where it now employs 750 people in a purpose-built 150,000 square foot facility.

Since then, E+I has thrived by offering customers unique in-house integrated power solutions tailored specifically to their unique requirements.

Helen Canny, the company’s Business Development Manager, explains that E+I’s power distribution systems have been installed in high-profile places.

“We’ve done work on the Aviva Stadium in Dublin and Wembley Stadium in London, as well as hospitals and commercial buildings. More recently, we’ve worked on a number of data centres, which led to opportunities to work with some high-profile clients.

“We try to lower the footprint of electrical systems and the needs of companies. We try to be innovative in how we do that while meeting the client’s needs.”

Innovation tackles engineering’s big challenges

The innovation Canny refers to is, primarily, a response to one of the most intimidating challenges faced by building projects of this nature: the manpower required to install these distribution systems. Canny describes how the company’s focus on research and development has helped them to tackle the challenge.

“Our open channel Busbar system is modular and small, which is a big advantage for our customers. Because of how they are made, the system is both more efficient and safer. It has a better install and requires less maintenance.

“We have a big R&D team, which is something we invested in with help from Enterprise Ireland, the national export agency.”

Strong customer relationships are an Irish Advantage

For a company based in the remote county of Donegal to power venues such as London’s iconic Wembley Stadium is impressive. Canny explains the “secret” is simple: develop a quality product and treat customers well.

“We compete with major European companies. What sets us apart is that our directors and owners are hands-on – our customer service is very strong.

“Customers know that they can pick up the phone and speak to a director or our Managing Director if they have a problem.

“Customer retention is vital to us. Repeat business has been one of the cornerstones of our growth.”

Global growth

Growth has seen the company take on commercial projects for high profile commercial clients including Allen & Overy, CISCO, Deloitte, Ericsson and Fujitsu and industrial commissions from News International, Rolls Royce and Securitas.

Along with those clients, the company has been able to pursue a large-scale expansion, opening a facility in the UAE in 2009 and one in South Carolina in 2014.

In the US, a recently completed 160,000 square foot extension will allow the company to serve markets in North and South America, Canada and other worldwide locations.

In the international landscape, the company’s Irish origins have given it a distinct advantage in its quest to grow and expand.

“Having no real language barrier anywhere we go is incredibly useful. We’ve been able to sign up American and European countries in the last few months.”

Looking to the future, the company is now in a position to add new jobs in Donegal throughout the year. With a busy 2017 just completed, an even busier 2018 awaits.

“We have a busy order book for the year ahead – we’re working on projects as well as keeping our investment in R&D going with support from Enterprise Ireland.

“We’re extending our factory in Donegal – and wherever in the world we expand to Donegal will always be where it started.”

Robert Bushnell, senior development advisor in digital technologies at Enterprise Ireland, describes how Irish companies are poised to play a leading role in the development of IoT technologies.

Ireland is well placed to benefit from the anticipated growth in internet of things (IoT) solutions in the coming years, principally due to the impact of an exceptionally strong cohort of dynamic companies with expertise in the key core telecoms and information and communication technologies which underpin them.

The relevance and importance of this expertise should not be underestimated. Despite some of the grandiose claims made for it, IoT is a new iteration of traditional telecoms technology. While in the past the technology was used to connect people, it is now increasingly being used to connect things as well.

Business cases for IoT

The advent of 4G and 5G communications technologies will enable the connection of vast numbers of devices with built-in sensors to gather data that was previously unavailable, or at least difficult and costly to obtain.

One issue to consider is that much of that data will be of little, or no use, to the companies and organisations collecting it. Just because a technology exists doesn’t mean a company has to use it. There should be a business case for the application of IoT. In many ways, the decision can be redefined by a rule termed the ‘internet of important things’. If the data being gathered, or connections being made, add value to the business, the technology should be used. Otherwise it should not.

Sectors touched by IoT

That is the relatively small and highly-specialised niche in which world-class Irish companies are developing international reputations. Those companies are largely focused on the industrial space, providing solutions to a range of sectors, including transport, logistics, manufacturing, engineering, and utilities. Irish IoT companies do not, in the main, operate in the relatively low-value consumer space.

The phrase “trains and boats and planes” is quite relevant to them. Developments in IoT are enabling entire trains to be connected, beyond just passenger wifi and movies streamed in displays in seat backs. IoT technology is also being used to connect all of the mechanical aspects of the train – the motors, contact with the track, various sensors in the carriages and the locomotive, while collecting data from each to help improve safety and efficiency. Wifi is also now available in the sky for aircraft. While aircraft manufacturers have been connecting up avionics for quite a while, wifi services for passengers are new.

Irish IoT companies to watch

8West is an Irish company that has made great strides in maritime IoT, particularly in the area of search and rescue. An individual can wear a chip in a standalone device or the chip can be incorporated into a life preserver, which enables remote tracking. If the wearer gets into difficulty, a drone is sent out to hover over them and alert rescue teams to their position. The drone can also drop supplies down to the wearer if needed. The technology also has applications in vessel tracking, which will prove very useful in areas such as logistics and security.

Irish company Druid is connecting up the entire port area of Rotterdam, one of the largest ports in the world. When complete, the connections will allow for the tracking of containers within the port, as well as the use of autonomous vehicles.

Asavie works with some of the world’s leading mobile network operators, including AT&T, Telefonica, Vodafone and Verizon, and hardware manufacturers, such as Dell and MultiTech. The Irish company specialises in making secure connectivity simple for businesses, notably in the energy sector. Asavie has helped a global energy intelligence management company to securely connect thousands of industrial companies to energy utilities in order to offer on-demand, real-time energy demand response services.

Davra Networks is involved in a major project with the San Diego metropolitan transport system to connect their trams and collect useful data that hadn’t been available before. The company is also involved in a potentially life-saving solution for a Mexican mining company. As mines contain reservoirs of water to help minimise dust, when reservoirs overflow, lives are lost. Davra’s platform monitors reservoirs and builds in local weather data, opening pumps to prevent floods. They do so by creating a digital twin of what is occurring in the real world.

Other exciting Irish companies in the IoT space include Cubic Telecom, which is running the whole connected car network for Audi in Europe, and Taoglas, which is doing some very interesting work on embedding antennae into windscreens.

These companies are supported by an exceptionally strong academic research base in Ireland, as well as world-class research centres including the Connect Centre in Trinity College Dublin and the Nimbus Centre in Cork Institute of Technology, which are producing very interesting work in areas such as specialist IoT communications and sensor layers.

These research efforts, combined with the existing cohort of established and emerging companies with expertise in the technology, have helped create a vibrant IoT ecosystem here in Ireland which places the country in a very strong position to play a leading role in this area in the coming years.

At this business forum targeted at Polish cities, Sonalake, IPL Group and Solar AdTek, three leading Irish companies active in Poland’s smart city sector, will present their innovative solutions and projects that are both recently completed and currently active.

Irish Government Minister, Damien English, will open the event and present the Government’s approach to innovation in the smart city sector.

Trade between Ireland and Poland is flourishing. In 2016, two-way trade was worth an estimated €3.4 billion and is growing by about 15% each year. More and more Irish companies are realising the many opportunities that Poland offers. The event will provide an opportunity to share smart city case studies from both the Irish and Polish markets.