Prof Barry Smyth named SFI researcher of the year

Prof Barry Smyth
Pictured: Minister for Skills, Research and Innovation, Damien English TD; Prof Barry Smyth, Science Foundation Ireland Researcher of the Year 2014; and Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of SFI and Chief Scientific Advisor to the Government of Ireland



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4 November 2014 | 0

Prof Barry Smyth as the Science Foundation Ireland Researcher of the Year 2014 at the SFI Science Summit, to an audience of 300 researchers in attendance.  Prof Smyth, an international expert on personalization technologies and recommender systems, was recognised by his peers for his exceptional research accomplishments and contribution to the Irish scientific community over the past year.

Prof Smyth holds the Digital Chair of Computer Science in UCD’s School of Computer Science and Informatics. He is also a co-founder of ChangingWorlds, which was acquired by Amdocs and is Chief Scientist and co-founder of HeyStaks, an Irish collaborative search analytics company.

Presenting the award, Minister for Skills, Research & Innovation Damien English said: “Prof Smyth exemplifies the theme of this year’s SFI Science Summit 2014: illustrating impact. An experienced entrepreneur, he has been able to translate his research into the commercial world.  Barry is adept at straddling the worlds of research and commerce, and was one of the driving forces behind INSIGHT – Ireland’s Data Analytics Research Centre established in 2013 through the SFI Research Centres Programme. INSIGHT is developing innovative new technologies of critical importance to Ireland’s future economic success. His experience and expertise has brought about a highly successful collaboration between academia and industry, ultimately delivering a commercial impact and generating job creation opportunities in Ireland.”

Accepting his award, Prof Smyth, said: “The journey to here has been an unusual and exciting one because I have been able to combine my research interests with commercial opportunities. It is hugely fulfilling to see the product of research make an impact in the real world. It has been possible only because of the support of UCD, SFI and the Irish government, as well as the hard work of dozens of students and collaborators, and for this I am very grateful.”

Prof Smyth has published more than 400 scientific papers. He has received more than 20 best paper awards, the inaugural Irish Software Association Outstanding Academic Achievement of the Year Award (2012) and an Honorary Doctor of Technology degree from Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen. Hi work has found broad application across markets such as Web services, social networking and mobile Internet, leading to a number of successful patents and licences and to the foundation of two companies: ChangingWorlds (1998) and HeyStaks Technologies (2008), which have created more than 150 jobs in Ireland. ChangingWorlds was acquired by Amdocs in 2008 for more than $60m.

As the director of the CLARITY Centre for Sensor Web Technologies, Prof Smyth helped to grow CLARITY from seed funding of €12 million to more than €35 million in just four years, with approximately 30% from industry. More recently, the INSIGHT Centre for Data Analytics was established under his leadership in 2013 with the largest ever single SFI Research Centre award of €58 million, combined with €30 million from over 30 industry collaborators.

TechCentral Reporters

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