As a proud member of Midas Ireland we recently attended the annual conference and Gala dinner , which was held at the end of November in The Clayton Hotel in Dublin was a huge success.

The theme for this year “Innovations in Electronics – Enabling a Bright Future”, where our Executive Director, Donnacha O’ Riordan spoke, his talk titled “Microelectronics R&D in Ireland – from MNC collaborations to Start Ups”. There were over 100 delegates at the event to hear talks from

• Josh Walden – Sr VP and GM, New Technology Group, Intel Corporation
• Peter Real – Snr VP, CTO at Analog Devices
• Dermot Mulligan Assistant Secretary Innovation and Investment, Dept. of Business, Enterprise and Innovation
• Dr Enda Bates, Centre for Creative Technologies and Media Engineering at TCD
• Hans Ehm, Lead Principal Supply Chain, Infineon Technologies AG
• Dr Johnny Walker, The Hermitage and ‘Health Founders
• Donnacha O’ Riordan, MCCI Executive Director

A full and interesting day concluded with a hugely successful gala dinner where the inaugural “MIDAS Ireland Lifetime Achievement” award was presented to Professor Maurice Whelan founder of S3 Group. Prof Maurice Whelan graduated from University College Cork with an Electrical Engineering Degree in the 1960, followed by a Masters Degree from Caltech and a PhD at the University of Eindhoven in 1968. He founded Silicon & Software Systems (later S3 Group) in 1986, in response at the time to so many graduates of Electrical & Electronic Engineering having to leave Ireland to find work in IC Design. At this point, there are very few people in the industry in Ireland who have not worked for or with S3 Group and it was great to see the industry and so many S3 Group Alumni honour him in this way.

MIDAS Ireland is an industry led cluster consisting of industry, educational, research and government agencies, working together to assist in the development of the electronics based systems sector in Ireland, that goes back to 1999. Today MIDAS aims to represent the entire electronics value chain, as the industry evolves to deliver more complete electronic and software system solutions. This industry cluster consists of 8000 highly skilled professionals in Ireland who are part of a broader ICT sector. The cluster generates over €9 billion in expert revenue annually while typically committing 15% of its revenue to R&D.MIDAS today has over 60 members from across the island, including multinational companies such as Analog Devices, Intel, Xilinx, Qualcomm, Johnson Controls and ARM, along with indigenous enterprises such as S3, CW Engineering, Firecomms and SensL Technologies and third level institutes such as Carlow IT, UCC, UCD, TCD and QUB. As the role of electronics is expanding into many different sectors, our membership is also expanding and grew by 20% in 2017.

The theme of Donnacha’s talk was on how technology continues to impact the way we live, work and communicate, and the role microelectronics plays taking centre stage as the key enabling technology for creativity and innovation. Microelectronics is the fundamental discipline that enables the digital world “sense” the physical world we inhabit, there by connecting the two and allowing us interact in the digital domain. MCCI is the state funded Technology Centre which leads the way from a national perspective in terms of research in this area.
For Ireland to maintain or lead the world in this digital revolution, it is essential that we continue to look to underpin the base of the technology pyramid which is microelectronics. Fundamental scientific research, through the SFI centres, such as IPIC (Photonics), CONNECT (IoT) and the new CONFIRM (Industry 4.0) and Future Milk (Dairy), are applied and realised through microelectronics, and Technology Centres such as MCCI.

He described opportunities in the sector from bridging the gap between academic and industry research goals, to removing the barriers and encouraging entrepreneurs to start businesses in microelectronics. Further the pivotal role the centre plays in encouraging students to once again view engineering, especially electronics engineering, as an exciting career choice in which the engineer can literally change the world. He described how we explore the opportunities to create clusters of capabilities by linking the value chain, connecting our leading edge multi nationals with our high tech indigenous companies, tacking issues of national and global significance in the pursuit of tackling grand challenges from Ireland.
He concluded the talk with a call-out to potential entrepreneurs in the sector, describing the MCCI Spin-in, Spin-out model for those interested in starting a microelectronics or semiconductor company. Here’s hoping 30 years from now, MIDAS will be presenting a Lifetime Achievement award to a company founder that was in the audience that evening, and chose to follow in the footsteps of Prof. Maurice Whelan.

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