Four UCD-led Research Teams Shortlisted for the SFI-Defence Organisation Innovation Challenge
- €2.4 million in funding to develop disruptive solutions to challenges facing the Irish Defence Forces
Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris TD and Minister for Defence and for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney TD, today announced €2.4 million in funding to develop disruptive solutions to challenges facing the Irish Defence Forces.
Four University College Dublin (UCD)-led research teams are among a total of ten teams which have been shortlisted for the SFI-Defence Organisation Innovation Challenge. These teams will collaborate with the Defence Forces and compete for funding to develop disruptive solutions to a number of challenges identified by the Defence Organisation that are of broad relevance to society.
Minister Simon Harris TD said, "This is a really exciting announcement. Today’s announcement shows the value of a partnership between our research community and the Defence Forces. The innovation on display can help address existing and future challenges within our Defence Forces.
"There is a myriad of innovative ideas and expertise from machine learning and virtual reality to data analytics, engineering, and robotics. Today, the ten projects will be awarded funding to initiate their projects and one will secure €1 million in funding."
Among the UCD-led teams is the Mentor project in which the power of machine learning and virtual reality will be harnessed to deliver more effective and more environmentally sustainable pilot training.
The members of the Mentor team are; Associate Professor Brian MacNamee, UCD School of Computer Science, Dr Anna Donnla O'Hagan, DCU and Lt Niall Dungan, Irish Air Corps.
Associate Professor MacNamee, UCD School of Computer Science, said, “This is a great opportunity to apply our expertise in machine learning and human performance analysis to improve pilot training at the Irish Air Corps. The rich dataset we can collect from the virtual reality simulation platform provided by VRAI offers massive opportunities to better understand and improve pilot training."
The three other UCD-led teams are ECHEM SENSE, Electro-Marine and Fire Fly.
Food poisoning and gastro-intestinal viruses are health risks that can significantly affect the operational capabilities of organisations like the Defence Forces. ECHEM SENSE will develop a new type of reusable biosensor, capable of detecting multiple food pathogens, in low resource environments.
The members of the ECHEM SENSE team are; Dr Robert Johnson, UCD School of Chemistry, Professor Seamus Fanning, UCD School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Sports Science and Lt Col Anthony Corcoran, Medical Corps.
Marine vessels have a large environmental impact through CO2 emissions and other forms of pollution. Electro-Marine will develop a novel prototype marine electric motor and demonstrate its use on rigid hull inflatable boats (RHIBs).
The members of the Electro-Marine team are; Professor Denis Dowling and Dr Owen Humphreys, UCD School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering and Lt Cmdr David Memery, Irish Naval Service.
The Fire Fly challenge is to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the fire extinguishing capability of rotary-wing aircraft. The Fire Fly solution, an innovative online Decision Support System (DSS), will be developed consisting of tools for data ingestion, aggregation, analysis, and visualisation, to enhance aerial firefighting.
The members of the Fire Fly team are; Dr Gavin McArdle and Dr Michela Bertolotto, UCD School of Computer Science and Comdt David Mackey, Irish Air Corps.
Minister Simon Coveney TD said, “From the time we launched this Challenge last July, I believed that it would confront emerging issues within the Defence Forces head-on, through the collaboration of leading researchers with the talented people behind our Defence Forces. At EU level, the role of innovation and disruptive technologies in delivering next generation military capability is already well recognised. I am looking forward to seeing the results that this synergy of innovators and practitioners under this challenge will undoubtedly generate for the Defence Forces going forward."
Professor Orla Feely, UCD Vice-President for Research, Innovation and Impact said: "I welcome this new research funding scheme through which excellent research in Irish universities will be applied in support of Ireland's Defence Organisations. The research supported under the scheme will address important challenges such as sustainability and environmental impact, and bring technological advances in areas such as peacekeeping, disaster relief and communications.
"I offer my congratulations to UCD's awardees and their colleagues, whose expertise will deliver disruptive new solutions for Ireland's Air Corps, Naval Service and Medical Corps, from the fields of Artificial Intelligence, Geotechnologies, Materials Science and Biosensors."
Professor Philip Nolan, Director General, Science Foundation Ireland, said: “Challenge-based research funding empowers talented teams to address significant national and global challenges. This kind of collaboration between Government Departments, agencies such as the Defence Forces, companies, researchers, and entrepreneurs is just one of the ways science delivers real and tangible benefits for our society and economy.
“I want to commend each team on their hard work and dedication and wish them every success in the rest of the competition. Having this level of talent compete in this Challenge not only bodes well for this particular initiative but the future of scientific research more generally. I look forward to seeing the different solutions that develop as the competition continues.”
Information on the six other shortlisted research teams available via https://www.sfi.ie/challenges/defence/
17 February 2022
For further information contact Micéal Whelan, Communications and Media Relations Manager, NovaUCD, e: email@example.com.
The SFI-Defence Organisation Innovation Challenge consists of three phases: Concept, Seed and Prize Award. Ten successful teams were today awarded funding to initiate their projects. They will then undergo a rigorous progress review after 3 months and up to 5 shortlisted teams will be provided with further funding of €200k to validate and prototype their proposed solutions. Finalists will then compete for the overall prize award of €1m.
The teams are drawn from various disciplines, including computer science, mechanical engineering, and natural sciences. They bring forward a myriad of innovative ideas and expertise from machine learning and virtual reality to data analytics, engineering, and robotics. www.sfi.ie/challenges/defence/.