On the 25th of February 2009, Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Mary Coughlan T.D. announced the establishment of 5 new Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Strategic Research Clusters (SRCs). This represents a €23.9 million investment in ground-breaking, collaborative research activities involving seven academic institutions and 22 companies.
Idiro Technologies is part of the “Clique” Strategic Research Cluster, along with IBM and Norkom Technologies. SFI awarded Clique a grant of €3.56 million. University College Dublin is the lead academic institution for the Clique SRC.
The research offers new insights into how people interact and opens up commercial opportunities. “If a telecommunications company understands their customers in terms of their social behaviour patterns and key influences, they can use this intelligence to cross-sell other products, prevent churning and even build loyalty,” says Aidan Connolly, CEO of Idiro. “We see real commercial benefits to our partnership with Clique. We are interested in commercialising the output of this research so that Idiro can expand to a global scale.”
This research programme is concerned with networks of data about entities and the relationships between them. The most prominent source of such data is social networking sites such as Bebo, Facebook or Myspace but credit-card transactions, mobile phone calls or email exchanges are also readily described as networks.
The availability of this data in electronic format presents some interesting challenges and opportunities for data analysis. Does credit-card fraud have a characteristic pattern of transactions? Can we identify bad behaviour such as spamming or bullying based on the analysis of communications patterns? Can we gain insights into how information disseminates in networks? We can be cautiously optimistic about the answers to these questions but the research challenges are considerable. The volume of data to be analysed is huge and sometimes the patterns are subtle.
Welcoming the announcement, Director-General of SFI, Prof. Frank Gannon said “SFI believes in supporting only top-level relevant research – subsidising mediocre research activity will not produce the outputs required to enhance Ireland’s scientific and innovation landscape and re-energise Ireland’s economy. These new SRCs, have successfully come through a lengthy and thorough peer review. From 40 proposals, I am confident that SFI is supporting the very best teams of researchers and industry-based experts that will help to provide a range of strategic economic benefits to Ireland”.