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Engineers Ireland shares wish list for the country’s digital future

Voice Of EU



Investment in education, energy and the National Broadband Plan are some of the engineering body’s big suggestions for the year ahead.

Engineers Ireland has launched a report on the country’s current infrastructure and recommendations for its digital future, including investment in education, research and broadband.

The engineering body’s report, The State of Ireland 2021, shows the country is performing well in many digital areas. For example, the Digital Economy and Society Index published by the European Commission ranks Ireland as the fifth highest among countries in the EU.

The report highlighted that Ireland has shown success in attracting multinational companies and workers to boost the digital economy, but it has a low ranking in investing in education and telecommunications, according to a report by the Institute for Management Development.

Engineers Ireland president Prof Orla Feely noted the importance of education in the engineering sector, as today’s engineers need to be “all-rounders” with the growth of digitalisation.

“Core IT skills are more important than ever and digital expertise on sensor networks, artificial intelligence, robotics, blockchain and virtual reality are becoming a basic prerequisite,” Feely added.

With all this in mind, here are the key recommendations Engineers Ireland has made for the year ahead.

1. Expedite the National Broadband Plan

The first premises was connected under Ireland’s National Broadband Plan at the beginning of last year, but the roll-out has faced roadblocks.

The project aims to connect more than 1.1m people across 544,000 homes, businesses, farms and schools in Ireland where commercial operators do not currently provide high-speed connectivity. It is slated to be complete by 2027 but delays have raised concerns about that deadline being met.

The Engineers Ireland report said there are many who need these services immediately and cannot afford a few more years of being “disconnected from the digital community”.

In order to speed up the process, Engineers Ireland recommended that the remaining areas that have larger populations are surveyed first.

“For those in less populated areas that will not be serviced by the plan for several years, we recommend that the Government investigate the viability of low-Earth orbit satellite broadband as an interim broadband solution for rural communities,” the report added.

It also recommended offering subsidies for satellite broadband while the national network is being built, such as tax credits.

2. Focus on the National Digital Strategy

The first phase of Ireland’s National Digital Strategy was launched in 2013, setting out practical actions to help boost the number of people and businesses engaging online through industry, enterprise, schools and education. The Government has been looking to build on this phase with a new strategy, and a public consultation on this was held at the end of 2018.

The Engineers Ireland report recommended that Ireland publish and implement the new National Digital Strategy to provide a “whole-of-government” approach to support the digital sector and encourage digitalisation across Ireland’s businesses and society.

3. Secure Ireland’s energy grid and supply

Last year, EirGrid predicted electricity supply challenges for Ireland in the coming years, in part due to “growth of demand driven by large energy users and data centres”. It added that data centres could account for a quarter of the country’s electricity usage by 2030.

Engineers Ireland said the country needs to accelerate its green energy projects to sustainably meet the growing power requirements. While these projects are being built, Ireland should push for approval for the planned 700MW interconnector between Cork and France.

“Greenlink, a 500MW interconnector linking the power markets of Great Britain and Ireland is planned for commission in 2024, but it may not be adequate to supply Ireland with enough power,” the report said.

Ireland should also explore the possibility of more interconnectors with the UK and France as well as other countries.

“As a hub for engineering and technical innovation, now is the time for Ireland to drive forward by expanding the capacity of our interconnectors and green energy networks to help future-proof national and European energy requirements,” Engineers Ireland registrar Damien Owens said.

4. Invest more in research and development

To help Ireland’s growing digital economy, Engineers Ireland believes the Government should offer more support for entrepreneurs and early-stage investors. This can also be done by investing more in third-level education technology transfer programmes.

“By subsidising more third-level courses that are made open-access and available online, the Government would provide access to digital upskilling and promote interest in digitalisation amongst the general public,” the report said.

It also recommended more funding for the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science to promote more research projects in higher education institutions.

Engineers Ireland noted the growing importance of cybersecurity and said there was a 413pc increase in the number of cyberattacks in Ireland from June 2020 to June 2021.

“The Government’s National Cybersecurity Strategy to 2024 should be implemented in full. It has a range of systematic measures to protect our nation, develop the cybersecurity sector, and deepen our international engagement on the future of the internet,” the report said.

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Elon Musk sells Tesla shares worth $6.9bn as Twitter trial looms | Elon Musk

Voice Of EU



Elon Musk has sold $6.9bn (£5.7bn) worth of shares in Tesla after admitting that he could need the funds if he loses a legal battle with Twitter and is forced to buy the social media platform.

The Tesla CEO walked away from a $44bn deal to buy Twitter in July but the company has launched a lawsuit demanding that he complete the deal. A trial will take place in Delaware in October.

“In the (hopefully unlikely) event that Twitter forces this deal to close *and* some equity partners don’t come through, it is important to avoid an emergency sale of Tesla stock,” Musk said in a tweet late on Tuesday.

In other comments on Twitter on Tuesday, Musk said “yes” when asked if he was finished selling Tesla stock. He also said he would buy Tesla stock again if the Twitter deal does not close.

Musk has committed more than $30bn of his own money to the financing of the deal, with more than $7bn of that total provided by a coterie of associates including tech tycoon Larry Ellison, the Qatar state investment fund and the world’s biggest cryptocurrency exchange, Binance.

Musk, the world’s richest person, sold $8.5bn worth of Tesla shares in April and had said at the time there were no further sales planned. But since then, legal experts had suggested that if Musk is forced to complete the acquisition or settle the dispute with a stiff penalty, he was likely to sell more Tesla shares.

Last week Musk launched a countersuit against Twitter, accusing the platform of deliberately miscounting the number of spam accounts on the platform. Twitter has consistently stated that the number of spam accounts on its service is less than 5% of its user base, which currently stands at just under 238 million. Legal experts have said that Musk will find it hard to convince a judge that Twitter’s spam issue represents a “company material adverse effect” that substantially alters the company’s value – and therefore voids the deal.

Musk sold about 7.92m Tesla shares between 5 August and 9 August, according to multiple filings. He now owns 155m Tesla shares or just under 15% of the electric carmaker.

The latest sales bring total Tesla stock sales by Musk to about $32bn in less than one year. However, Musk remains comfortably ahead of Jeff Bezos as the world’s richest man with an estimated $250bn fortune, according to the Bloomberg billionaires index.

Tesla shares have risen nearly 15% since the automaker reported better-than-expected earnings on 20 July, also helped by the Biden administration’s climate bill that, if passed, would lift the cap on tax credits for electric vehicles.

Musk also teased on Tuesday that he could start his own social media platform. When asked by a Twitter user if he had thought about creating his own platform if the deal didn’t close, he replied: “”.

With Reuters

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Iran reveals use of cryptocurrency to pay for imports • The Register

Voice Of EU



Iran has announced it used cryptocurrency to pay for imports, raising the prospect that the nation is using digital assets to evade sanctions.

Trade minister Alireza Peyman Pak revealed the transaction with the tweet below, which translates as “This week, the first official import order was successfully placed with cryptocurrency worth ten million dollars. By the end of September, the use of cryptocurrencies and smart contracts will be widespread in foreign trade with target countries.”

It is unclear what Peman Pak referred to with his mention of widespread use of crypto for foreign trade, and the identity of the foreign countries he mentioned is also obscure.

But the intent of the announcement appears clear: Iran will use cryptocurrency to settle cross-border trades.

That’s very significant because Iran is subject to extensive sanctions aimed at preventing its ability to acquire nuclear weapons and reduce its ability to sponsor terrorism. Sanctions prevent the sale of many commodities and technologies to Iran, and financial institutions aren’t allowed to deal with their Iranian counterparts, who are mostly shunned around the world.

As explained in this advisory [PDF] issued by the US Treasury, Iran has developed numerous practices to evade sanctions, including payment offsetting schemes that let it sell oil in contravention of sanctions. Proceeds of such sales are alleged to have been funnelled to terrorist groups.

While cryptocurrency’s anonymity has been largely disproved, trades in digital assets aren’t regulated so sanctions enforcement will be more complex if Iran and its trading partners use crypto instead of fiat currencies.

Which perhaps adds more weight to the argument that cryptocurrency has few proven uses beyond speculative trading, making the ransomware industry possible, and helping authoritarian states like Iran and North Korea to acquire materiel for weapons.

Peyman Pak’s mention of “widespread” cross-border crypto deals, facilitated by automated smart contracts, therefore represents a challenge to those who monitor and enforce sanctions – and something new to worry about for the rest of us. ®

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Edwards Lifesciences is hiring at its ‘key’ Shannon and Limerick facilities

Voice Of EU



The medtech company is hiring for a variety of roles at both its Limerick and Shannon sites, the latter of which is being transformed into a specialised manufacturing facility.

Medical devices giant Edwards Lifesciences began renovations to convert its existing Shannon facility into a specialised manufacturing centre at the end of July.

The expansion will allow the company to produce components that are an integral part of its transcatheter heart valves. The conversion is part of Edwards Lifesciences’ expansion plan that will see it hire for hundreds of new roles in the coming years.

“The expanded capability at our Shannon facility demonstrates that our operations in Ireland are a key enabler for Edwards to continue helping patients across the globe,” said Andrew Walls, general manager for the company’s manufacturing facilities in Ireland.

According to Walls, hiring is currently underway at the company’s Shannon and Limerick facilities for a variety of functions such as assembly and inspection roles, manufacturing and quality engineering, supply chain, warehouse operations and project management.

Why Ireland?

Headquartered in Irvine, California, Edwards Lifesciences established its operations in Shannon in 2018 and announced 600 new jobs for the mid-west region. This number was then doubled a year later when it revealed increased investment in Limerick.

When the Limerick plant was officially opened in October 2021, the medtech company added another 250 roles onto the previously announced 600, promising 850 new jobs by 2025.

“As the company grows and serves even more patients around the world, Edwards conducted a thorough review of its global valve manufacturing network to ensure we have the right facilities and talent to address our future needs,” Walls told

“We consider multiple factors when determining where we decide to manufacture – for example, a location that will allow us to produce close to where products are utilised, a location that offers advantages for our supply chain, excellent local talent pool for an engaged workforce, an interest in education and good academic infrastructure, and other characteristics that will be good for business and, ultimately, good for patients.

“Both our Shannon and Limerick sites are key enablers for Edwards Lifesciences to continue helping patients across the globe.”

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