ADAPT Centre Site Review

Aviva Stadium, Dublin

12th March 2019


Good morning.

Welcome to the ADAPT Centre Site Review.

On behalf of Trinity – the university where ADAPT is headquartered – it's my pleasure to welcome the ADAPT Centre members, the SFI delegates, and the Review Panel who have travelled over from universities in the UK, Europe, the US and Canada.

It's a measure of ADAPT's success and importance that this site review is convening over three days, with leading academics participating. ADAPT has been a game-changer for Dublin, Ireland, and the four partner universities. It's vital that it continues to go from strength to strength.

I recall when ADAPT was launched, four years ago now, in January 2015, as a model centre of its kind. It is exemplary:

  • in its academic-industry partnerships;
  • in its interdisciplinarity;
  • in its combination of fundamental and applied research leading to dynamic innovation; and
  • it is unique, internationally, in looking at the full lifecycle of digital content.

Trinity and the other partner universities – DCU, UCD and the TU Dublin – ADAPT has enabled us to strengthen and deepen our expertise in key areas related to digital content, including AI, machine learning, social media analytics, fraud detection and avoidance, regulatory compliance, risk analytics, service inoperability and consolidation, and digital media and entertainment.

The interdisciplinarity collectively on offer from ADAPT's partner universities ensures that the collaborative research done in the Centre is broad and meaningful, encompassing legal, ethical, medical, psychological and creative issues. ADAPT's researchers are not only probing at the frontiers of AI-driven digital media technology, they are also leading the development of the International Standards that will govern accountability for its use. 

Science Foundation Ireland showed great foresight and commitment in establishing ADAPT, and its foresight has been rewarded. Across a wide number of metrics, ADAPT has proven a remarkable success:

*        *        * EU PROJECTS *        *        *

  • ADAPT has won 35 EU projects since January 2015, across all three Horizon 2020 pillars, to a total value of €15 million, and is the lead on twelve of these projects. It has enjoyed particular success in H2020’s ‘Excellent Science Pillar’ and in the very competitive Marie Curie actions, where ADAPT currently has ten projects;
  • Two months ago, ADAPT won an ERC award for the project FOODCULT which brings together experts in history, archaeology and science and technology expertise to explore the diet and foodways of diverse communities in early modern Ireland. Dr Susan Flavin, Associate Professor of History, is Principal Investigator and is working closely with Seamus Lawless in ADAPT. This ERC award is particularly important because it rewards ADAPT’s cross-faculty interdisciplinarity in the arts and sciences. This is one of Trinity’s strengths, exemplified also by Linda Hogan, Professor of Ecumenics and a PI in ADAPT.

*        *        * TRAINING *        *        *

  • Digital content innovation is creating new industries with excellent employment opportunities for young people. ADAPT provides students in Ireland with the education they need to take up these opportunities. The Centre is core to training programmes such as EDGE, Trinity’s largest H2020 award, and ELITE-S, which are attracting world-class talent to Ireland;
  • ADAPT has already organised and hosted 11 international scientific conferences and it runs the All-Ireland Linguistics Olympiad, which focuses on symbolic and logic problems for 13-to-18-year olds.

*        *        * FUNDING *        *        *

  • In addition to €15 million from EU projects, ADAPT has received €3.4 million from industry for collaborative research projects.

*        *        * INNOVATION *        *        *

  • ADAPT’s research remit and its strong collaborations with industry are helping to ensure that the jobs of the future are created here in Ireland, and are driven by innovations developed within our research ecosystem;
  • ADAPT’s vision for its FinTech research programme is an example of how the Centre’s research is leading on innovations that will create significant change to industries, on a global scale;
  • ADAPT’s leadership in innovation has been spearheaded by its director, Professor Vincent Wade. Professor Wade is a co-founder, as well as the Director, of ADAPT. In Trinity he holds the professorial Chair of Computer Science. He has won over €55 million in research grants in the areas of intelligent systems, adaptive systems and personalisation. Last year he won the Provost Innovation Award, a highly prestigious award open to all college staff. Innovation is a particular strength of Trinity’s and Professor Wade faced strong competition. His stewardship of ADAPT has been a significant factor in the Centre’s success.  

*        *        * NATIONAL ECOSYSTEMS *        *        *

  • The ADAPT Centre is held in high esteem in the wider ecosystem and an example of that was demonstrated just two days ago at the launch of Future Jobs Ireland, the Irish Government's major new policy initiative aimed at preparing for the future needs of businesses and workers. AI and the digital economy were highlighted as strategic priorities in the framework and the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, said that the work being done at ADAPT speaks to Ireland’s mission to become the tech capital of Europe. The work of ADAPT was also singled out by the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys, for 'using cutting-edge AI technology to help transform the modern workplace and empower individuals and society'.


Thus, in just four years, ADAPT has become central to the multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary research being done in Irish universities and across the EU. It is a lynchpin for industry-academic partnerships. And it is central to Ireland’s mission to be a tech capital.  

Expanding ADAPT’s partners, from four to eight, to include institutes of higher education beyond Dublin, will help deliver on this mission, bringing a geographical spread across Ireland. And we’re also very excited about the potential of the planned new Grand Canal Innovation District, GCID.

GCID will be Ireland’s first innovation district. It will be launched just down the road here at Grand Canal Quay. Led by Trinity, we have planned this initiative with UCD and DCU – also of course our partners in ADAPT - and with government and other public stakeholders.

Like other leading innovation districts round the world, GCID will bring together bring research-oriented institutions, high growth companies, and tech and creative start-ups into close proximity to each other in an amenity-rich environment, deeply connected to local and cultural communities. It will provide the density and scale of activities essential for global competitiveness, enabling new employment and education opportunities across different sectors.

The success of centres like ADAPT in attracting research funding and industry partnerships is what gives us the confidence to plan for GCID. And we look forward to GCID, in its turn, acting as a catalyst for ADAPT.

When small countries like Ireland succeed, they do so by capitalising on advantages of connectivity and efficiency. In a country this size, government, higher education, research and industry can and should work together in a virtuous circle. ADAPT is exemplary of what can be achieved.

I thank and congratulate SFI for its vision in creating the Centre. And I thank and congratulate Professor Wade and all the researchers across the four partner universities for making SFI’s vision concrete through their projects and innovation. I thank the Review Panel for their time and commitment and I wish everyone a most useful, informative and enjoyable few days, secure in the knowledge that this is a Centre that delivers for Dublin, Ireland, Europe and for global research.

Thank you.

*   *  *