A €46.4m software research facility launched at the University of Limerick yesterday will help more than 1,000 Irish companies develop and expand their products.
Called Lero, it involves unique parnership between all the country’s universties.
Along with research, the Lero project will create 90 PhD and 46 postdoctoral research positions over the next six years.
Announcing the investment, Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan said: “The collaboration of the best academic brains from all the country’s universities is unique in Ireland and rare worldwide.”
Funding for Lero comes from the Science Foundation of Ireland and EU Structural Funds (€32.6m). Industry is backing the initiative with contributions worth €13.8m.
Ms O’Sullivan said the investment is an important part in attracting and retaining the world’s leading technology companies.
“It will also provide access to a world-class software research centre for more than 1,000 indigenous tech firms.”
Prof Mark Ferguson, director general of the Science Foundation of Ireland, said Lero represents the largest ever State and industry co-funded research investment in this country.
Prof Mike Hinchey, director of Lero, said: “Lero can deliver tangible economic benefits through productive engagement with industry, development of new technology and training for PhD students in the software sector.
“As a result of investment like this, Ireland can become recognised as a global centre for software research with major benefits for the economy. Software is at the heart of the most exciting developments in technonlogy as we see the digital and physical worlds increasingly integrate. Today software is everywhere and our quality of life and economic wellbeing depends on it.”
Businessman, Sean Baker, co-founder of Iona Technologies PLC, said the software industry is facing many challenges globally, particularly with regards to the availability of skilled research talent.
He said: “Lero provide a world-class research resource to the sector as well as boosting the supply of software graduates. Lero can by a valuable catalyst for the development of new campus companies.”
Lero is based in the Tierney Building at Plassey Technological Park. As well as all Irish universities its participants also include Dundalk IT.
Dr Mary Shire, vice president of UL, said Lero is a critical part of the research system at UL.
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