Wednesday, 24 May 2023
Established in 2008, the Wireless Sensor and Applied Research Lab (WiSAR Lab) is an ATU Donegal Strategic Research Centre specialising in the internet of things. WiSAR is a member of the Applied IoT Enterprise Ireland Technology Gateway Network cluster which works in partnership with Institutes of Technology and Technological Universities across Ireland with 16 specialised gateways that deliver innovation expertise and solutions for Irish industry across a range of specialist areas.
Maria Gallagher, Digital Communications Officer with WiSAR explains that “The Technology Gateway Network is here to help companies navigate the wide range of RD&I supports and advise on the most appropriate funding, from SMEs to multinationals, so an initial conversation with any Gateway is always a great place to start.”
WiSAR work closely with a wide range of organisations both regionally, nationally and internationally “We have such breadth of expertise within the wider ATU research community, particularly the Faculty of Technology and Engineering and here in Colab, we work closely with many organisations such as ERNACT across many different disciplines and project areas.”
The team at WiSAR have been involved in the success of various businesses and SME’s across the North West. Dr Stephen Seawright, WiSAR Technology Gateway Manager, shares his experiences “Our unique cross border location enables us to build linkages across both Donegal and the wider Northwest City Region which has underpinned much of our growth and impact over the years. It is great to work with so many ambitious companies locally and we have developed many long-term collaborations across the region.”
WiSAR also play an integral role in sharing their knowledge of key regional and national supports to local businesses and entrepreneurs by signposting them to other business support agencies across the region such as the Donegal County Council Business Concierge Service, the Local Enterprise Office Donegal, Enterprise Ireland, Údarás na Gaeltachta or Intertrade Ireland.
The business ecosystem across Donegal has embraced innovation, research and collaboration with an open mind and a willingness to discover new methods as Stephen explains “One of the best things about our work is the variety, no two projects are ever the same. Some clients want to tease out the feasibility of an idea while others may have a clear product or service in mind. You never really know what to expect with your next innovation project at WiSAR.”
The particular area of competence for WiSAR is the Internet of Things technology stack which, according to Stephen, “boils down to data collection, data sorting, data analysis and visualization leading to business actions, monetization or productivity improvements. We have had clients in nearly every county of Ireland driven by our electronics and software technology mix.”
Innovation can often seem like an intimidating or far-fetched concept for many entrepreneurs across all sectors, as though its only for modern, high-tech companies or those with unlimited funding when in reality, innovation is a part of every business as Stephen explains “The reality is that innovation takes many, many forms and almost every business has innovation capacity. Innovation can vary from improving an existing process to creating something new and disruptive.”
The WiSAR team are always willing to speak to any entrepreneur to see how they can help them along in their innovation journey whether it’s developing a project with them or signposting them to the right place for their needs. Stephen explains that “Many new clients contact WiSAR at the start their innovation journey, simply with an idea. That puts innovation at the heart of what we do”.
Maria notes that the experienced team at WiSAR find continuous motivation from the state-of-the-art facilities, the caliber of clients and the work-life balance that only Donegal provides “with its rugged scenery, secluded beaches, vibrant towns and a good work/life balance, Donegal makes attracting or retaining talent relatively easy. Despite our remote location, we have an opportunity to have regional, national and international impact from our work.”
The future is bright and busy for WiSAR with more opportunities to create and foster new innovative partnerships and build new relationships. “2023 is a very exciting year for us under the new Atlantic Technological University. The new university will allow for greater collaborative research opportunities across the west and northwest, bringing untapped potential and opportunity”.
WiSAR invites all businesses and entrepreneurs with an idea or those who want to tease out their innovation journey to come and speak to them. Stephen highlights “Our door is always open, please visit us."
"Alternatively, we welcome the opportunity to visit any business. Show us around and you never know what ideas can materialise from a simple conversation.”