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UiPath backs first automation school in Ireland

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The partnership with Limerick and Clare Education and Training Board will help prepare workers as automation becomes more prevalent.

Ireland has got its first school of automation with an initiative supported by tech firm UiPath.

The programme aims to train workers around automation software to equip them with the skills needed in this rapidly developing area.

UiPath has partnered with Limerick and Clare Education and Training Board and the ABP School of Automation to deliver this training programme, which will be based around the Limerick and Clare region. It follows a similar initiative launched last year in Scotland.

The training will guide students through the skills needed to develop software robots like virtual assistants or tools that automate repetitive tasks – all major parts of UiPath’s business.

Thirty people will take part in the traineeship programme, which does not require existing coding expertise, for 18 months. It is open to over-16s and people on social welfare.

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“The school will create a new generation of RPA (robotic process automation) developers with vocational and life skills that are highly sought after,” Marc Cooper, chief executive of ABP School of Automation, said. “Automation is going to change the way we work forever, for the better, and we need people with the expertise to support that.”

Automation is expected to take on a greater role in all industries. A report from Forrester Consulting last year found that nearly half of businesses plan to increase their investment in robotic process automation.

UiPath has been one of the leading forces behind the burgeoning robotic process automation industry. Its software is used by enterprises to automate various tasks to free up staff for other more important functions. In Ireland, its software is used by the HSE and the Mater Hospital.

“We’re supporting the launch of the School of Automation in Ireland to help fill a genuine need for democratising the skills of the future of work. This is a unique, growing initiative to train and upskill students to create software robots that are becoming ubiquitous in the workplace,” Mark O’Connor, public sector director for Ireland at UiPath, said.

UiPath, which was founded in Romania and is now headquartered in the US, recently went public through an IPO on the New York Stock Exchange. The company raised $1.3bn in the listing and is currently valued at $38bn.

“This traineeship is responding to changes in the way we work, learn and do business and will prepare employees for the future as the world of work is transformed by megatrends such as globalisation and digitalisation,” Paul Patton, director of further education and training at Limerick and Clare Education and Training Board, added.

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2021 iPhone photography awards – in pictures | Technology

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The 14th annual iPhone photography awards offer glimpses of beauty, hope and the endurance of the human spirit. Out of thousands of submissions, photojournalist Istvan Kerekes of Hungary was named the grand prize winner for his image Transylvanian Shepherds. In it, two rugged shepherds traverse an equally rugged industrial landscape, bearing a pair of lambs in their arms.

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With Alphabet’s legendary commitment to products, we can’t wait to see what its robotics biz Intrinsic achieves • The Register

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Alphabet today launched its latest tech startup, Intrinsic, which aims to build commercial software that will power industrial robots.

Intrinsic will focus on developing software control tools for industrial robots used in manufacturing, we’re told. Its pitch is that the days of humans having to manually program and adjust a robot’s every move are over, and that mechanical bots should be more autonomous and smart, thanks to advances in artificial intelligence and leaps in training techniques.

This could make robots easier to direct – give them a task, and they’ll figure out the specifics – and more efficient – the AI can work out the best way to achieve its goal.

“Over the last few years, our team has been exploring how to give industrial robots the ability to sense, learn, and automatically make adjustments as they’re completing tasks, so they work in a wider range of settings and applications,” said CEO Wendy Tan White.

“Working in collaboration with teams across Alphabet, and with our partners in real-world manufacturing settings, we’ve been testing software that uses techniques like automated perception, deep learning, reinforcement learning, motion planning, simulation, and force control.”

Tan White – a British entrepreneur and investor who was made an MBE by the Queen in 2016 for her services to the tech industry – will leave her role as vice president of X, Alphabet’s moonshot R&D lab, to concentrate on Intrinsic.

She earlier co-founded and was CEO of website-building biz Moonfruit, and helped multiple early-stage companies get up and running as a general partner at Entrepreneur First, a tech accelerator. She is also a board trustee of the UK’s Alan Turing Institute, and member of Blighty’s Digital Economic Council.

“I loved the role I played in creating platforms that inspired the imagination and entrepreneurship of people all over the world, and I’ve recently stepped into a similar opportunity: I’m delighted to share that I’m now leading Intrinsic, a new Alphabet company,” she said.

The new outfit is another venture to emerge from Google-parent Alphabet’s X labs, along with Waymo, the self-driving car startup; and Verily, a biotech biz. ®

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Charles River to create 90 new jobs at Ballina biologics site

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Charles River is expanding its testing capabilities in Ballina as part of its partnership with Covid-19 vaccine manufacturer AstraZeneca.

Contract research organisation Charles River Laboratories is planning an €8m site expansion in Ballina to facilitate batch release testing for Covid-19 vaccines from AstraZeneca.

The expansion at the Mayo site will create an additional 1,500 sq m of lab space and 90 highly skilled jobs in the area over the next three years.

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The company provides longstanding partners AstraZeneca with outsourced regulated safety and development support on a range of treatments and vaccines, including testing and facilitating the deployment of Vaxzevria for Covid-19 and Fluenz for seasonal infleunza.

The latest investment follows earlier expansions at the Ballina site and Charles River recently announced plans to establish a dedicated laboratory space to handle testing of SARS-CoV-2 and other similar pathogens that cause human disease.

“We are incredibly proud of the transformational changes we have implemented on site and the role that Charles River has played in supporting the safe and timely roll-out of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine,” said Liam McHale, site director for Charles River Ballina.

“Throughout the pandemic, our site remained fully operational while keeping our employees safe and having a positive impact on human health. Our expanded facility will provide us with the increased capacity needed to continue the essential services we provide to our clients.”

Charles River acquired the Ballina facility, which focuses on biologics testing, in 2002. The company employs 230 people at its two facilities in Ireland, including the Mayo site and a site in Dublin, established in 2017, which serves as the EMEA and APAC headquarters for the company’s microbial solutions division.

IDA Ireland is supporting the expansion. Mary Buckley, executive director of the agency, said Charles River is an “employer of long standing” in Co Mayo.

“The enhancement of its product lines and the development of additional capability at the Ballina facility is most welcome,” she added. “Today’s announcement is strongly aligned to IDA Ireland’s regional pillar and its continued commitment to winning jobs and investment in regional locations.”

Dan Wygal, country president for AstraZeneca Ireland, added: “Our Covid-19 vaccine, Vaxzevria, undergoes extremely robust safety and quality testing prior to becoming available for patients. We are committed to bringing safe, effective vaccines to Ireland and other markets as quickly as possible, and Charles River will continue to be an important partner in this regard.”

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