rsz_insightpixEarlier this year, leading academics from well-known research centers in Ireland – the Digital Enterprise Research Institute (DERI), Clarity, Clique, 4C and TRIL – came together as part of the INSIGHT Centre for Data Analytics, with £42 million in government funding and £30 million in industry funding. With researchers based in a number of Ireland’s universities, including University College Dublin, Trinity College  Dublin, NUI Galway, NUIMaynooth, Dublin City University, and University College Cork, INSIGHT “is Ireland’s answer to the data analytics opportunity that exists now,” says funding director, Insight Galway, and DERI Director Stefan Decker.

Combining the different centers under one common brand is a way to build critical mass in the areas of Big Data and analytics, spanning categories including recommender systems, media and decision analytics, reasoning, personal sensing, connected health and discovery apps, and, of course, the semantic web and Linked Data, where DERI’s expertise lies, Decker notes. Industry partners are also a large part of the Centre, and will be able to avail themselves of the research expertise transitioning from the various research centers to INSIGHT. For example, the work DERI has been doing on W3C standards will continue under INSIGHT’s purview rather than DERI’s, Decker explains.

Industry-targeted projects in fact consist of almost half the center. In one example, Irish national broadcaster RTE is collaborating with the INSIGHT Center to develop an innovative cross-archival semantic content discovery platform to open up its archive troves. Other topics under exploration by the Center include collaborating with pharmaceuticals companies in areas such as drug discovery, or with telcos on information management. “Let’s say as an example in call centers, where people need to get informed and bring information together from a variety of different sources – those are topics where semantics and Linked Data would play a role,” Decker says. It also can have a part in work one of the other research centers brings to INSIGHT – a project involving the BBC and media and analytics.

One of the things that comes out of ringing the semantic web and Linked Data into the larger fold that is the INSIGHT Centre is that “The technology is getting broader range, and combined with other techniques, broader reach. We are part of not only standalone initiatives and work but part of a bigger initiative now,” he says. “A good cross-fertilization between different topics is now possible.”

To forward project efforts, “we want to get more industry partners on board,” says Decker. “That is for funding and to accelerate research into business initiatives. While industry funding is a requirement of the program, it also makes it possible to translate research results into reality.”

There’s also opportunities to be found in Horizon 2020, the EU Framework Program for Research and Innovation. “We want to grow the Centre and that requires going to Europe and contributing to Horizon 2020 challenges,” Decker says.  Horizon 2020 aims to raise the level of excellence in Europe’s science base and ensure a steady stream of world-class research to secure Europe’s long-term competitiveness, by supporting the best ideas and providing researchers with access to priority research infrastructure.