New visionary direction will redefine institute’s ICT research impact

Waterford Institute of Technology’s research wing TSSG (Telecommunications Software & Systems Group) is further advancing its global ICT research impact by evolving to the Walton Institute for Information and Communication Systems Science.

The awarding of research institute status to TSSG was announced by Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris TD during an online ceremony.

It’s a significant accolade for the Institute and clear recognition of its outstanding research strengths and capabilities, which include co-ordinating fundamental science projects focused on sensing and treating neurodegenerative disorders, winning awards for digital DNA storage and VR and using ICT that can advance and support Covid-19 related research.

The announcement marks the culmination of a three-year process which included rigorously benchmarking the organisation against international standards.

Founded in 1996, TSSG is recognised as one of Europe’s leading academic research centres with a particular reputation for translational research.  As it evolves to the Walton Institute, it is now home to over 80 researchers, with over 300 industry partners and over 750 global partners and is part of four Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Research Centres. In the last five years alone, Walton Institute has secured funding in excess of €120 million under EU Programmes, making it one of the most successful ICT research institutes in Ireland. Additionally, it has secured more funding from Horizon 2020, the EU’s research and innovation programme, than all other Irish academic and industry organisations who participate in European ICT projects combined.

The research institute, the first of its kind in the South East region, is named after renowned physicist Dr. Ernest Walton, born in Dungarvan, Co. Waterford, who was jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1951 for being the first to split the atom. It’s hoped his ground-breaking work will inspire current and future generations of Waterford-based researchers at Walton Institute in utilising ICT to develop high impact solutions to benefit our society and economy from their multi-disciplinary research in the areas of future healthcare, intelligent transport systems, environmental protection, cybersecurity, smart energy and agri tech.

Walton Institute co-directors Dr. Sasitharan Balasubramaniam and Kevin Doolin said: “Formally announcing our Institute designation is a culmination of three years of effort from the team in TSSG and WIT’s research office. Cutting edge research is at the heart of everything we do. Evolving from TSSG, Walton Institute will focus on redefining multi-disciplinary ICT research that can result in major impact for society while encouraging a unique environment that will support researchers who want to pursue ground-breaking research.”

Dr. Sasitharan Balasubramaniam, Director of Research and Kevin Doolin, Director of Innovation, Walton Institute. PHOTOS: Patrick Browne

Professor Willie Donnelly, President of WIT, said: “Since its establishment in 1996, TSSG has acted as a catalyst for the economic development of the South East. The application of its research knowledge to the creation of regional economic development in partnership with the regional stakeholders has resulted in the creation of a sustainable ICT sector in the South East which employs over 3,000 people.  Evolving to Walton Institute is timely in the context of the creation of the Technological University and sets out a clear statement of ambition for the new University as a catalyst for the sustainable economic and social develop of the South East region of Ireland.”

Dr Mark White, VP Research, Innovation and Graduate Studies in WIT added: “Walton Institute is a leading European Research Institute with ICT at its core. Central to our mission is the delivery of real socio-economic value and impact to our community, enabling the long- term competitiveness of the South East and the entire country.  The Walton Institute excels at this by contributing the research, innovation and ideas that are required by regional-based start-ups and SMEs to transform the ICT sector in the region, producing high calibre postgraduates who will work for local industries and attract future FDI from major companies.”