A new manufacturing research centre opens this morning in Dublin and will lead to 40 jobs in areas such as robotics, mechanical engineering and systems integration. Irish Manufacturing Research was set up following a €15m investment led by Enterprise Ireland and the IDA, supplemented by private research funding. The centre's role is to collaborate with manufacturers here on research and development aimed at securing the future of the industry here and generating employment in emerging sectors including 3D printing, collaborative robotics and internet of things.
IMR's chief executive Barry Kennedy explained that the company's function is to try and solve very complex industrial and manufacturing challenges and problems for Irish industry. Mr Kennedy said that with the emergence of new technologies such as additive manufacturing, collaborative robotics and the industrial internet of things, the face of manufacturing is radically changing. Business models are also changing, and Mr Kennedy said there is a real need in Ireland to get help for these companies to grapple with these new changes and be successful in the ever changing environment.
Mr Kennedy said the new advances in systems and machines can help people to do very complex tasks, which up to this had been very difficult to do. Collaborative robots can work beside a human being and can do very dextrous tasks, which we can not achieve easily, he added.
The IMR CEO said that Ireland does not have later stage research centres that are very close to commercialisation as they do in Europe and today's new manufacturing research centre is a first for Ireland. He also said that Ireland does not do "Blue Sky" research but it partners very closely with academic teams, including UCD. IMR works with these partners closely in terms of the technology they are developing. It pulls that new technology into the organisation and runs it along the company's industrial pilot lines to test it and figure out ways the new technology can function in a manufacturing line successfully.
Mr Kennedy said the company runs on a 1-1-1 model - and gets one one third of its funding from the government, one third from competive funding in Europe and one third from private industry. In order to get competing companies to work together, he said there are certain thematic issues where companies are comfortable to work collaboratively on, including the likes of energy efficiency. But there are certain rules of engagement around specific products, however, where companies want to do bilateral research, he added.
MORNING BRIEFS - The Canadian property investment firm Timbercreek Asset Management has launched a property lending operation in Ireland. Timbercreek will have €200m initially to invest. Its new head of Irish debt Paul Roddy said Timbercreek would look to provide loans in the €1m to €50m range and would back investors whom, he said, were currently underserved by the traditional banking sector.
*** Just days after the world's two biggest oil producers Saudi Arabia and Russia announced their intentions to extend production curbs new figures from the International Energy Agency indicate American shale oil production is approaching record highs. A production freeze implemented by the 24 members of OPEC together with Russia led crude oil prices higher earlier this year. News of the fresh accord between the Saudis and Russia lifted both US crude and the international benchmark Brent Crude to multi-week highs. Rising prices, though, incentivise shale oil production in the US. It becomes viable around the $43 a barrel mark. At the lows of $26 a barrel last February shale production plummeted but it is now approaching an all-time high of 9.3 billion barrels a day. It is estimated that for every dollar oil prices rise between $45 and $55 a barrel, an additional 1.2 billion barrels become economic to produce. That is likely to act a brake on further price rises despite the prospect of Opec agreeing to extend its freeze from January until the first quarter of 2018.
*** EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said Revenue is "taking too long" to recover back taxes from Apple following the Commission's decision that the company had received illegal state aid here. She made the comments in an interview with CNBC. Ireland was ordered to recover €13 billion in taxes which the Commission said Apple had been able to avoid due to favourable tax treatment in contravention of EU Law. Both Apple and the Government have denied any tax deal with Apple and have appealed the state aid ruling to the European Court of Justice.
*** One51 has acquired a plastics company in the US for $150m. Macro is the largest manufacturer of rigid plastic bulk bins and is based in Fairfield in California.