Posted: 08/09/17

On Thursday 7th September, the ADAPT Centre for Digital Content Technology gave a warm welcome to four new world-class research centres funded by Science Foundation Ireland. The centres were officially launched at The Printworks of Dublin Castle, where ADAPT took the opportunity to introduce one of our newest members, the Furhat Robot, to An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Also in attendance at this high-profile event were Tánaiste and Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Frances Fitzgerald, T.D., and the Minister for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development, John Halligan, T.D.

ADAPT researchers showcased the excellence and expertise delivered by SFI-funded centres through demonstrating the extent of Furhat’s abilities. This robot can enable users to have a productive interaction while using their own language, even if one is speaking English and the other Chinese. As a product of world-leading machine translation research, which arises from a project helmed by ADAPT in conjunction with Huawei, Furhat will pave the way for real-time, high-performance translation to expand overseas services.

Through the introduction of four new centres, called Confirm, BEACON, Déantús, and Future Neuro, it is the goal of SFI to continue to provide such cutting-edge research and technology as those demonstrated by ADAPT’s work on Furhat. With €74m in funding, these centres will address critical and emerging areas of the economy, and will directly support over 650 highly skilled researchers.

Speaking at the launch of the four new SFI Research Centres, An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar TD, said:

“Investing in leading-edge scientific and technological research is good for our economy and helps us to discover new innovations which can improve our quality of life. Our SFI Research Centres represent a virtuous triangle between government, industry and higher education, and show just what can be achieved when there is a shared vision about reaching your ambitions.”

The benefit of all SFI-funded research centres, both existing and newly announced, is summed up by Minister of State for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development, John Halligan, T.D.:

“Today’s announcement marks the third round of funding under the SFI Research Centres Programme.  These SFI Research Centres are of critical importance to Ireland’s economy, as we need to be at the competitive edge of innovation to retain, attract and build new investment. I believe that all SFI Research Centres will deliver strategic benefits for Ireland in the years to come in terms of education and training, job creation, advancing key sectors and important scientific discoveries.”  

Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Advisor to the Government of Ireland said:

“SFI Research Centres are making important scientific advances, enhancing enterprise and industry, training students with critical, in-demand skills, supporting regional development, and enhancing Ireland’s international reputation. Research and innovation matter for our future – they make the difference in enhancing productivity and boosting competitiveness and to tackling the societal challenges of our time: building a digitally-smart, low carbon, energy efficient, circular economy that offers well-paid, rewarding work and brings a good quality of life for all.”

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