In the School of Computer Science at NUI Galway, we are working to create a new capability in the West of Ireland and a new ecosystem of advanced AI companies, with their human capital emerging from our University’s research and teaching, and supported by state agencies and representative bodies.

For over 45 years now, the growth of the tech industry in Galway has been all about evolution and moving up the value chain. When Digital Equipment Corporation came to Galway in 1971, where HPE is now based, they set up a computer manufacturing plant. When that manufacturing facility shut down in the early 1990s, people thought it would be a disaster for the region, but the alumni of Digital set up other businesses, and other multinationals were attracted to Galway by the availability of a skilled workforce. This rebirth was enabled by our University, which responded by setting up the IT Centre, which was the precursor to our School of Computer Science. Today, as a result of that past work, there are huge numbers tech companies of all sorts in the West Region — SMEs, multinationals and startups — and Galway has evolved from tech manufacturing to being a hub for ICT companies developing high-value software products and services.

Our vision in Computer Science at NUI Galway is to continue to enable the evolution the ICT sector towards higher value all the time, so that we can ensure that the West remains relevant and employment here grows. For us, Artificial Intelligence is the next step on the evolutionary ladder.

Here in NUI Galway, we have a 20-year track record of research and teaching in machine learning and AI, right across the School of Computer Science, including in the Data Science Institute. Our academics are world-recognised experts in topics such as evolutionary computation, multi-agent systems, robotics, probabilistic reasoning, reinforcement learning, game AI, data mining, natural language processing, and deep neural networks.

These new programmes will play an important role in developing the new AI ecosystem that we envisage. The online programme will allow companies to embed AI knowledge in their workforce. The classroom-based programme will attract the highest-calibre national and international students, to add to our human capital.