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What can Ireland do to make energy consumption more efficient?

Chris Collins of Schneider Electric Ireland says the country has the tech to help cut emissions, it just needs to rethink its approach to energy use.

The rapid rise of energy costs in tandem with the cost-of-living crisis was certainly a focus of Budget 2023. But what about Ireland’s climate targets?

Understandably, many people were looking for help with high energy bills – a problem that will hopefully be only temporary. What is not temporary, however, is the climate crisis. And Ireland has legally binding targets to cut emissions by 51pc by 2030.

With these ambitious targets in mind, the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications was allocated more than €1bn in Budget 2023.

A €337m chunk of this will go towards grants for energy efficiency. According to Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Michael McGrath, TD, this represents the “highest funding ever” committed to energy efficiency.

Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications and Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan, TD, added that a key priority over the coming months is “to scale up and speed up our transition to renewable energy systems”. This, he said, would “a real lasting solution” to the fossil fuel crisis that is causing so much hardship for people.

But is this action enough to respond the climate crisis? In general, Ireland’s progress on reaching its emissions targets leaves a lot to be desired.

A report published recently by the Sustainable Energy Authority Ireland (SEAI) showed that Ireland’s energy-related emissions increased by 5.4pc in 2021, following a brief reduction at the beginning of the pandemic.

Additionally, the Environmental Protection Agency warned that “urgent” measures are needed for Ireland to meet its climate targets, based on greenhouse gas emissions projections for the period 2021 to 2040. So what should be done?

‘We have a lot of catching up to do’

According to Chris Collins, Ireland country president for Schneider Electric, “we have a lot of catching up to do” and we will need “more than significant cuts to stay within the legal limits”.

This is something most of us already know. Indeed, Collins made a very similar statement in August when Eurostat published estimates indicating that emissions had risen across the whole of Europe in the first quarter of this year – with Ireland experiencing the third highest increase in the EU.

Following on from those earlier comments, Collins told that there are a number of things the Irish Government should focus on immediately to see results.

“The most immediate thing we can do to drive our sustainability agenda is to focus on reduction, using existing technology to cut out the inefficiencies in our existing infrastructure,” he said, adding that a lot of energy consumed in buildings is wasted.

Chris Collins Schneider Electric headshot.

Chris Collins. Image: Schneider Electric

“We can attack this waste through digital technologies that help our homes, commercial buildings and factories make better decisions on how they use their energy.

“Government-led legislation and support in the form of energy incentives and rewards are valuable ways to cement this progress made by businesses and create a more cohesive strategy for Ireland.”

Ireland needs to invest in digitisation as “a sustainability enabler” so homes as well as businesses can minimise energy waste through tech such as smart thermostats.

“Energy efficiency might sound like an outworn concept but it’s one of the fastest-growing ways to cut carbon emissions and save the planet,” said Collins.

Technology will be an incredibly useful asset for sustainability overall, he added. “The good news is we do not have to wait for this technology to get developed, it’s already here.”

Ireland needs the ‘courage to think differently’

However, Collins said that leveraging tech’s potential regarding sustainability would require “courage to think differently about how we digitise at all stages of planning, construction and operation”.

“There is plenty of technology available to help, from electric fleet vehicles to digital technologies that make electricity usage more visible, connected, controlled and smart – cutting waste.”

Besides using tech to track and cut energy waste, what other suggestions does Collins have for Ireland? He reckons that one of the biggest obstacles to Ireland’s transition to clean, renewable energy is providing capital investors and developers certainty during the planning and reviewing process.

“It is taking too long for projects to be reviewed and [enter] into production, worsened by the current global supply chain challenges. Once approval is given, components still need to be built, prolonging the wait even further.”

He also recommended that the State start thinking about building grid resilience and creating micro grids around some of the larger cities.

“Data centre operators also need to start thinking about investing in their own renewable energy generation assets on site to power themselves and use battery storage and smart grid solutions to feed excess power back into the national power grid,” he added.

‘Ireland as a nation is behind on its climate goals, but the ambition and opportunity are there’

For its part, Schneider Electric is working with customers in Ireland such as Interxion by Digital Realty, Eirgrid and University College Dublin to help improve their energy management and efficiency. Other partners and customers in Ireland include windfarms, tech multinationals and life sciences manufacturers.

“We are working with a major pharmaceutical manufacturer in Ireland to deploy digital assets that measure and monitor their electrical infrastructure and help them make operating decisions that reduce their consumption and maximise the life and efficiency of their assets,” said Collins, citing one example.

As for Schneider Electric’s own internal operations, Collins said the company has “measured and published sustainability targets for over 15 years” and has committed to becoming fully carbon neutral on its end-to-end footprint by 2040.

“Here in Ireland, we are moving to a new net-zero building in Galway from November. The building will have electrified heating and hot water, electric vehicle power stations, and we are also looking into the prospect of having onsite renewable energy generation including solar and wind power coupled with local energy storage.”

Despite the fact that Ireland has a lot of work to do in meeting its climate goals, Collins is relatively optimistic about embracing the challenge that lies ahead and becoming “a leader in the green energy revolution”.

“Ireland as a nation is behind on its climate goals, but the ambition and opportunity are there, and businesses are leading the way. The Covid pandemic highlighted the need to digitise.

“The fact that carbon emissions reduced significantly during the lockdown can inspire us to rethink energy use and our approach to consumption – efficiency, smart usage – as well as generation – offshore wind and solar – particularly as the world faces the ongoing energy crisis.”

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Majority of Businesses (82%) Set to Boost R&D Funding in the Next Three Years

Businesses And R&D Funding

More than 78% of R&D professionals believe that an enhanced 50% R&D tax credit will incentivise green tech development

A recent report by the Industry Research and Development Group (IRDG) and KPMG sheds light on the state of Research and Development (R&D), highlighting the urgent need for increased funding to keep pace with other leading innovation-driven nations. Titled ‘Ireland’s Innovation Index,’ the report presents insights gathered from a survey of 394 respondents representing various sectors, including engineering, technology, medical, and software.

Growing Ambitions for R&D Investment

The findings of the report reveal that a significant majority (80%) of respondents plan to boost their R&D expenditure in the next three years, while 67% have already increased their R&D budgets over the past three years. Encouragingly, only a mere 4% anticipate a decrease in future R&D spending. This heightened commitment to R&D investment underscores its critical role in driving economic growth and competitiveness.

R&D Landscape

Ireland has demonstrated commendable performance in the realm of R&D, with a substantial proportion (69%) of multinational companies considering Irish R&D grants and tax supports on par with or even superior to those offered by other countries. Only 31% expressed a less favorable opinion. Moreover, 64% of the survey respondents have taken advantage of the Research and Development Tax Credit (RDTC), while 53% have availed themselves of semi-state grant supports. These figures indicate the value that companies place on government incentives to support their innovation endeavors.

The Need for Increased Funding

Despite the positive strides made, the report highlights the pressing need for Ireland to bolster its R&D funding to match the levels seen in leading innovation-driven nations. According to the IRDG, an additional €2 billion in funding is required to bridge this gap effectively.

Embracing Sustainability and Digitalization

The report also emphasizes the potential of enhanced R&D funding in promoting green tech development. An overwhelming 78% of R&D professionals believe that an improved 50% R&D tax credit would serve as a powerful incentive to drive innovation in sustainable technologies. This highlights the need to align R&D investment with the challenges of sustainability and digitalization, ensuring continued economic prosperity and positioning Ireland as a global leader in these areas.

The Importance of Support for SMEs and FDI

Dermot Casey, CEO at IRDG, underscores the significance of increased investment in innovation, particularly in supporting innovative small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to create the next generation of Irish success stories, akin to industry leaders like Kingspan and Fexco. Additionally, such investment is crucial to bolster the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) sector. Businesses are poised to invest, but they require robust support to overcome challenges related to accessing skills, talent, and administrative burdens.

Competition in the Global Landscape

Ken Hardy, head of KPMG’s R&D incentives practice, draws attention to the intense competition among European jurisdictions, including neighboring countries like the UK, which are actively vying to attract R&D activities. In light of this landscape, Ireland must fortify its support systems and allocate a more substantial budget to maintain its competitiveness. Hardy commends the positive sentiment among over two-thirds of Irish RD&I professionals who view Ireland’s support systems as comparable to those of other countries.

Charting the Path Forward

The report underscores the urgent need for Ireland to bolster its investment in R&D, both to stimulate innovation and to address the challenges presented by sustainability and digitalization.

By increasing funding and providing comprehensive support to innovative companies, Ireland can seize opportunities for economic growth and maintain its position as a global hub for research and development. The collective efforts of industry, government, and academia will be instrumental in driving Ireland’s innovation agenda and securing a prosperous future.

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Ways Small & Medium-Sized Businesses Can Hire Big Tech Talent

In response to mounting financial concerns, tech giants like Amazon, Microsoft, and Alphabet (Google’s parent company) have recently implemented significant staff cuts. This has prompted industry leaders to reevaluate their hiring practices, recognizing the limitations of Big Tech’s ability to weather challenging economic times.

While the tech industry’s overall stability is assured, the combination of a declining economy and a previous surge in hiring has resulted in substantial job losses. However, this situation also presents an opportunity for small businesses and start-ups to tap into a pool of available tech experts.

To capitalize on this unique scenario, small and medium-sized business (SMB) owners must act swiftly to gain a competitive advantage over larger companies and attract highly skilled candidates.

In this article, John Elf, Technology Contributor at ‘Voice of EU’ and Head of Marketing at Vibertron Technologies, provides insights into some simple but effective strategies for attracting talent in a candidate-heavy market.

Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) can leverage consulting services to attract the best talent, just like big tech companies do. Here’s how SMBs can make use of consulting services to enhance their talent acquisition efforts:

1. Talent Acquisition Strategy Development: SMBs can engage consulting firms specializing in talent acquisition and HR strategies to help them develop a comprehensive talent acquisition strategy. These consultants can assess the organization’s needs, identify talent gaps, and devise effective recruitment and sourcing strategies tailored to the SMB’s specific industry and requirements. This strategic approach ensures that the SMB is targeting the right candidates and maximizing its resources.

2. Employer Branding and Positioning: Consulting firms experienced in employer branding can assist SMBs in developing a strong employer brand that resonates with their target talent pool. They can help SMBs articulate their unique value proposition, culture, and growth opportunities, ensuring that the organization stands out as an attractive employer. These consultants can also provide guidance on how to effectively communicate the employer brand across various channels to attract the best talent.

3. Recruitment Process Optimization: Recruitment service provider can help SMBs, same as LCEs, optimize their recruitment processes, making them more efficient and effective. Consultants can review and streamline the entire hiring process, from job postings and candidate screening to interview techniques and selection methodologies. By improving the candidate experience and ensuring a smooth and timely process, SMBs can enhance their reputation as an employer of choice.

4. Candidate Sourcing and Evaluation: Consulting firms specializing in talent acquisition can assist SMBs in sourcing and evaluating candidates. They can leverage their networks and resources to identify top talent and conduct thorough assessments, including skill evaluations, cultural fit analysis, and background checks. By leveraging external expertise, SMBs can access a broader candidate pool and make well-informed hiring decisions.

5. Compensation and Benefits Consulting: Attracting and retaining top talent often requires competitive compensation and benefits packages. SMBs can engage consulting firms that specialize in compensation and benefits to ensure their offerings align with industry standards and meet the expectations of high-caliber candidates. These consultants can provide insights into market trends, salary benchmarks, and innovative benefit options, enabling SMBs to remain competitive in talent acquisition.

6. Training and Development Programs: SMBs can leverage consulting services to design and implement training and development programs. These programs not only help attract talent but also contribute to employee retention and growth.

Consultants can identify skill gaps, design customized training modules, and provide guidance on employee development initiatives, ensuring that SMBs create a culture of continuous learning and professional advancement.

By utilizing consulting services in talent acquisition, SMBs can access specialized expertise, best practices, and industry insights that are typically associated with larger companies. This approach enables SMBs to compete for top talent on a more level playing field, enhancing their ability to attract and retain the best candidates.

By John Elf

John Elf is Head of Marketing at Vibertron Technologies, and an Honorary Contributor at ‘Voice of EU’. A version of this article has already been published.

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Congratulations, Privacy Just Took A Great Leap Out the Window!

Your Data Is Being Used Without Your Permission And Knowledge

The Voice Of EU | In the heart of technological innovation, the collision between intellectual property rights and the development of cutting-edge AI technologies has sparked a significant legal battle. The New York Times has taken legal action against OpenAI and Microsoft, filing a lawsuit in Manhattan federal court. This legal maneuver aims to address concerns surrounding the unauthorized use of the Times’ content for the training of AI models, alleging copyright infringements that could potentially result in billions of dollars in damages.


This legal tussle underlines the escalating tension between technological advancements and the protection of intellectual property. The crux of the lawsuit revolves around OpenAI and Microsoft allegedly utilizing the Times’ proprietary content to advance their own AI technology, directly competing with the publication’s services. The lawsuit suggests that this unauthorized utilization threatens the Times’ ability to offer its distinctive service and impacts its AI innovation, creating a competitive landscape that challenges the publication’s proprietary content.

Amidst the growing digital landscape, media organizations like the Times are confronting a myriad of challenges. The migration of readers to online platforms has significantly impacted traditional media, and the advent of artificial intelligence technology has added another layer of complexity. The legal dispute brings to the forefront the contentious practice of AI companies scraping copyrighted information from online sources, including articles from media organizations, to train their generative AI chatbots. This strategy has attracted substantial investments, rapidly transforming the AI landscape.

Exhibit presented by the New York Times’ legal team of ChatGPT replicating a article after being prompted

The lawsuit highlights instances where OpenAI’s technology, specifically GPT-4, replicated significant portions of Times articles, including in-depth investigative reports. These outputs, alleged by the Times to contain verbatim excerpts from their content, raise concerns about the ethical and legal boundaries of using copyrighted material for AI model training without proper authorization or compensation.

The legal action taken by the Times follows attempts to engage in discussions with Microsoft and OpenAI, aiming to address concerns about the use of its intellectual property. Despite these efforts, negotiations failed to reach a resolution that would ensure fair compensation for the use of the Times’ content while promoting responsible AI development that benefits society.

In the midst of this legal battle, the broader questions surrounding the responsible and ethical utilization of copyrighted material in advancing technological innovations come to the forefront.

The dispute between the Times, OpenAI, and Microsoft serves as a significant case study in navigating the intricate intersection of technological progress and safeguarding intellectual property rights in the digital age.

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