Smart Dublin, in partnership with Enterprise Ireland, launched today five Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) competitions with €800k in funding. The announcement was made at the LexIcon, Dun Laoghaire Rathdown’s smart library.

The new competitions aim to find low cost, innovative solutions to encourage engagement of the ‘unheard voices’ in decision-making; to address identification and communication of bathing water quality; to test shared and sustainable workplace mobility options for staff; to facilitate connections over an IoT radio frequency mesh network; and to optimise last mile delivery in urban centres.

The event was opened by An Cathaoirleach Councillor Tom Murphy and Philomena Poole, Dun Laoghaire Rathdown Chief Executive and Smart Dublin Chair.

Philomena Poole, Chief Executive of Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council said “This is an excellent opportunity for small and emerging companies to get involved in demand led projects through the development of innovative solutions and technologies to address future challenges that impact on the quality of peoples’ lives”.

Successful applicants will be selected by an open competition process run in two phases (feasibility and prototyping). It is open to anyone with an idea or solution, including organisations of all sizes, tech developers, solution and service providers, universities and entrepreneurs. This competition follows on from the success of four previous SBIR competitions launched by Smart Dublin in 2016 and 2017.

Kevin Sherry, Executive Director, Global Business Development, Enterprise Ireland said: “SBIR is an Enterprise Ireland initiative which gives a platform to SMEs with innovative ideas to actively tackle societal needs and challenges through strategic collaborations with public bodies. This is done through competitive challenges and the five challenges being launched today target important and diverse issues in areas from the environment to the workplace. I look forward to seeing the solutions harnessed from these challenges which have the potential to make positive impacts both here in Ireland and around the globe.”

The Challenges

Bathing Water Quality – Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council and Waterford City and County Council seek low cost, innovative, technological solutions in the form of products, services, or applications to address timely identification and communication of bathing water quality. A successful outcome would result in key information being made available to bathers to allow them to make an informed decision as to whether or not they should swim in that particular area.

Fiona Craven, Senior Executive Engineer, Cleansing & Beaches Section, Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council said: “Bathers want real-time information on water pollution risks at swimming locations so that they can make informed decisions about where to swim. Finding improved solutions for sharing information on bathing water quality will help bathers protect their health and provide valuable data to Local Authorities and Irish Water, helping to inform decision making on beach and wastewater network improvements.

Internet of Things – Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council seeks solutions to facilitate connections over an IoT radio frequency mesh network. The challenge is about the network to allow connectivity and communications over all potential network infrastructure. The required solution would provide the missing link insofar as it would allow disparate devices to participate in the network and will also secure future proofing of the network.

Workplace Smart Mobility Hub – Dublin city council and SEAI (sustainable energy authority of Ireland) are looking to test shared mobility options for staff through integration of e-cars, e-bikes and push bikes through the piloting of a smart mobility hub service solution. Any solution should also have the ability to be replicated at other DCC sites, public sector premises and also at private sector locations

“Dublin City Council, with the support of SEAI, are seeking innovative approaches and new business models to workplace mobility that can increase the use of cleaner vehicles for site visits and workplace meetings using shared e-bike and e-car schemes. This will help to reduce traffic congestion, air pollution and promotion of more sustainable outcomes” – Chris Garde, Smart City Planner, Dublin City Council.

Last mile delivery Dublin City council and Belfast City Council seek smart, low cost solutions to optimise freight and cargo deliveries in urban centres. Both cities are looking for ways to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of deliveries, reducing the number of goods vehicles in their respective urban centres, which in turn will improve air quality, noise pollution and road safety.

“Dublin City Council is seeking innovative ideas and solutions to address the last mile delivery challenge in a way that can help reduce congestion, improve air quality and make for safer deliveries in the city centre. The SBIR process offers a unique opportunity for entrepreneurs to work alongside business to test new approaches to city logistics and deliveries piloting solutions across key city centre sites. We are also delighted to partner with Belfast City Council on this challenge to offer a second reference site to the successful companies” – Colm Ennis – Senior Executive Engineer -Dublin City Council.

Unheard Voices– Fingal County Council and Cork City Council seek smart, low cost solutions to encourage engagement of the ‘unheard voices’ in decision-making about the future of their place.

Speaking about the SBIR Challenge ‘Unheard Voices’ AnnMarie Farrelly, Director of Services, Fingal County Council said: “The initiative provides an exciting opportunity for local authorities to explore innovative methods to inclusively engage and, to also, provide support to different communities of stakeholders in articulating their needs throughout the engagement process. It is hoped that going beyond the range of conventional communication and public consultation methods will help to actively involve all communities in discussions about the future of their place”.

Smart Dublin is an initiative of the four Dublin Local Authorities to engage with smart technology providers, researchers and citizens to solve city challenges and improve city life.

Enterprise Ireland’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) initiative aims to create partnerships between SMEs and public bodies to develop innovative solutions to public needs through competitive challenges. These challenges are co-funded by Enterprise Ireland and the relevant public-sector body. Since the first challenges were launched in 2016, the initiative has been gaining traction – 10 challenges are currently running across contracting authorities nationally, with 11 new challenges launching in 2018. See for further information.

Source: Enterprise Ireland