South Africa’s leading animation studio Triggerfish chooses Galway as home of its first international expansion

Triggerfish, the animation studio behind Netflix’s first original animated TV series from Africa, has announced it is to establish its first international studio in Galway. The project, supported by the Irish Government through IDA Ireland, is expected to create 60 new jobs over the next three years. Triggerfish animated the Oscar-nominated Roald Dahl adaptation Revolting Rhymes as well as much-loved Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler adaptations such as the 2020 International Emmy-winning Zog, the 2020 British Animation Awards winner The Snail and the Whale, the BAFTA-nominated and Annecy-winning Stick Man, and the Rose d’Or-winning The Highway Rat, all produced by Magic Light Pictures.

Founded in 1996, Triggerfish was instrumental in the birth of the South African animation industry, co-founding the country’s official animation association as well as an ongoing monthly screening and networking event.The studio’s first two features, Adventures in Zambezia and Khumba, are among the five highest-grossing South African feature films of all time, with nine million cinema tickets sold globally. This saw Triggerfish named overall Business of the Year in South Africa’s Western Cape province in 2015 – a first for an animation company.
“To keep up with demand, we started outsourcing work to Irish animators in 2019 and were quickly won over by both the quality of the work and the dedication to the craft,” says Triggerfish CEO Stuart Forrest. “In many ways, the Irish creatives seem very similar to what we always look for in South Africa: a passion for animation, a love of story and the deeply felt ambition to create award-winning and entertaining work.”

Triggerfish is currently producing Netflix’s first original African animated TV series, Mama K’s Team 4, set in a futuristic version of Lusaka, Zambia, where four scrappy teen girls join a retired secret agent on a quest to save the world – on a budget.
Triggerfish is also in production on their third feature film, Seal Team, an action-comedy about a brave, reckless seal who forms a rag-tag team to save his home from Great White Sharks.
In addition Triggerfish services AAA-rated and mobile games for the likes of Electronic Arts, Unity and Disney Interactive and is in development on a broad slate of original film and television projects for most of the world’s biggest studios.

“We need more capacity to keep up with our ambitions and Galway ticked all the boxes for our European base,” says studio producer Andy Wonnacott, who will head up the Galway branch, to the delight of his Irish wife. “It has a similar time zone to South Africa; is very well connected, with both flights and broadband connectivity; has a thriving creative community; offers loads of really fantastic business support. For us personally, Ireland is our second home, so it will be good to be back with family and friends.”
More recently, Triggerfish has been helping to kickstart the broader African animation industry through initiatives like the pan-African Triggerfish Story Lab, supported by The Walt Disney Company; the all-women Triggerfish Writers Lab with Netflix; the free Triggerfish Academy digital learning platform, supported by Goethe-Institut, the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development and The Walt Disney Company; and regular bursaries to study animation.
“We’re big fans of the likes of Cartoon Saloon and Giant, so are looking forward to helping grow Ireland as an animation hub producing some of the world’s best work,” added Stuart Forrest. “To begin with, we’ll be continuing our work on various high-end game projects, and expect this to scale quickly in line with Triggerfish’s track record in Africa.”
Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys TD said, “I am delighted to see that Triggerfish have chosen to establish their first international studio in Ireland. Galway will be a natural fit for this creative company. They will join a burgeoning list of award-winning indigenous and foreign animation studios already based here, and will be a great addition to this thriving sector.”

IDA Ireland CEO Martin Shanahan said, “This is a great investment for Ireland and Galway is a great choice of location, given the availability of highly skilled creative talent there. The 60 new roles being created is a welcome boost to the economy of Galway and the West region. It is a huge vote of confidence in Ireland and demonstrates our continued strong value proposition and our agile and adaptable business environment at a time of unprecedented global flux due to the Covid-19 pandemic. I wish Triggerfish every success with its operations here.”
Animators keen on joining this new team for a promising adventure on a wonderful slate of new projects can apply via the Careers tab at http://www.triggerfish.com

A New University for the South-West Region

Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) and Institute of Technology Tralee (ITT) is set to become a Technological University. Munster Technological University (MTU) will be officially established in January 2021 and will be Ireland’s newest Technological University.

The project leader of the MTU and lecturer at CIT, Hugh McGlynn, said the only technological university outside Dublin is “great news for the south-west region” and will give the country the “regional development” it needs. He said that the move will enhance the reputation of students, improve conditions, secure better funding streams, and better campus development.

Prof McGlynn said that post-Covid-19, MTU will be a “driver for regional development, growth, and opportunities” for the 15,300 students enrolled in CIT and IT Tralee.

President of CIT, Barry O’Connor, said the designation of CIT and IT Tralee together as the MTU is a “vote of confidence”. Students will have access to a broader range of educational opportunities with over 140 courses and programmes on offer across six campuses in Kerry and Cork.

CIT’s Bishopstown campus, Cork School of Music, Crawford College of Art and Design, the National Maritime College of Ireland in Ringaskiddy, and IT Tralee’s north and south campuses all come under the umbrella of MTU.

Prof McGlynn added: “Technological universities operate from apprentices to PhDs and everything in between so there’s an array of opportunities for people looking to reskill.”

 

Six tech companies hiring across the Atlantic Economic Corridor right now.

If you’re in the market for a new job or simply interested in exploring your options along the Atlantic Economic Corridor,  check out this list of companies hiring.

 

Overstock, Co.Sligo 

Career progression’ is important to David Kenny, Overstock’s Director of Software Development and Site lead Ireland. For him, that’s what a technologist gets when he or she joins Overstock a technology company brimming with opportunity. “We want to attract people who are looking for high-quality work and a high-quality lifestyle” says David. If you can match that with a workplace that offers solid career progression which increasingly matters to people, we think that’s a pretty unique selling point for us here in Sligo.” Just some of the roles currently on offfer at Overstcok are. 

 

Cora Systems, Co.Leitrim

Are you an ambitious, experienced, Business Analyst? Are you looking for great career progression opportunities in a fast-growing and customer-focused tech company? As a Senior Business Analyst at Cora Systems (“Cora”) you will be a core member of teams delivering complex, multidisciplinary projects on behalf of our global clients. You will be able to learn and grow in a highly team based environment. The role is customer facing and requires excellent commercial awareness and communication skills. Learn more about the role below.

 

SL Controls, Co.Limerick 

SL Controls, which integrates and validates software for manufacturing and well on its way to being a force in the move to Industry 4.0, employs around 90 people and revenues are surging north of €7m as the company plots its strategy for the next three years. SL now have offices in Sligo, Galway, Limerick and Maynooth and have a number of open roles including.

 

Genesys, Co.Galway 

“Galway is not just the city of culture, a major tourist hub and a university town of 24,000 students. It also has a thriving tech scene where talented and ambitious developers, UX designers, data scientists and product managers can build world-class careers.”Senior vice-president of R&D at Genesys, Joe Smyth. Geneys have a number of open roles at the minute incuding:

 

Regeneron, Co.Limerick 

Regeneron’s products are designed to help people with eye diseases, allergic and inflammatory diseases, cancer and rare diseases, among others. It is also currently testing one of its existing medicines and developing new antibodies in an effort to combat Covid-19. Take a look at some of the open roles below.

 

MathWorks, Co.Galway 

MathWorks, a mathematical and computing software developer, has its Irish base in Galway, located in the heart of the city. A number of positions are currently open at MathWorks, including

 

AEC Event; A Practical Guide To Reopen Your Hub

On the 30th June 2020 our AEC team alongside the AEC officer network held an online event focused on supporting hubs and co-working spaces to re-open along the Atlantic Economic Corridor. Over 90 participants joined the call from Kerry to Donegal and heard from our AEC team and a number of guest speaker including  Liam Cronin, CEO of RDI Hub, Niamh Costello, Manager at Galway Technology centre and others.

Our team gave an update on our AEC Hubs Strategy, our planned booking system and our recent work on the classification of the hubs. Last week our team alongside DRCD, announced an investment of 300,000 for enterprise hubs along the Atlantic Economic Corridor to help them implement measures to reopen in compliance with public health guidelines as the economy recovers from the impact of COVID-19. You can read more on that announcment HERE. Today’s event give hub owners and managers a more in depth look at the application form and how to apply for this funding.

If you missed out on the event or wish to know more, you can watch it back in full below. Any hub owner or manager looking to apply for the support should contact their AEC county officer. A full list is available HERE.

 

 

 

 

 

Western Development Commission announces €300,000 to support enterprise hubs to reopen along the Atlantic Economic Corridor

The Western Development Commission has announced an investment of 300,000 for enterprise hubs along the Atlantic Economic Corridor to help them implement measures to reopen in compliance with public health guidelines as the economy recovers from the impact of COVID-19.

The investment will be made by the Department of Rural and Community Development as part of the Atlantic Economic Corridor Enterprise Hub Network project.  Funding of up to €5,000 will be provided in grant aid to successful applicants.

CEO of The Western Development Commission, Tomás Ó Síocháin, said:

“This support will allow the hubs to reopen and provide facilities for workers to work remotely in fully equipped office settings.  WDC research, carried out in conjunction with NUIG, has identified immediate challenges to working from home, and the AEC enterprise hubs can help address those challenges.  The hubs can play a critical role in rural and regional areas, allowing skilled workers to work close to where they live, driving sustainable economic activity and building communities.”

Hub managers along the AEC region were invited to join a webinar on Tuesday 30th June – ‘A Practical Guide to Reopening your hub.’  You can watch back the event HERE.

Any hub owner or manager looking to apply for the support should contact their AEC county officer. A full list is available HERE.

Coronavirus: The towns most economically at risk

Having been considered one of the fastest growing economies in the European Union in recent years, the Irish economic landscape has profoundly changed due to the outbreak of Covid-19.

As per the latest estimates from the Department of Finance, the Irish economy is now projected to decline by 10.5 per cent this year, unemployment is expected to rise to 22 per cent by the second quarter of 2020, while the public finances are expected to record a deficit of around €23 billion.

While it is clear that the Covid-19 outbreak will have a significant impact on Ireland’s economy, the degree to which this impact will be felt across Ireland’s regions, counties, cities and towns remains to be seen.

On this basis, the three Regional Assemblies of Ireland have prepared a “COVID-19 Regional Economic Analysis” to identify which geographical areas in Ireland are more likely to be exposed to economic disruption caused by the necessary measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Using the GeoDirectory commercial database, and specifically the NACE codes allocated to commercial units2 as of September 2019, the three Regional Assemblies of Ireland have identified each geographical area’s reliance on the sectors that are likely to be severely affected by the public health measures needed to curtail the spread of COVID-19.

Cathaoirleach for the Northern and Western Regional Assembly, Cllr Declan McDonnell acknowledged that out of the three regions, the Northern and Western region had the highest “COVID-19 Exposure Ratio”, with 48.6 per cent of its commercial units operating in the worst affected sectors; all of whom are likely to be severely impacted from this crisis.

To read the report see here

SURVEY SHOWS 83% WANT TO CONTINUE TO WORK REMOTELY AFTER COVID-19 CRISIS

A recent survey by researchers from the Whitaker Institute at NUI Galway and the Western Development Commission (WDC) has shown that 83% expressed interest in continuing to work remotely. Over half of those surveyed (51%) had never worked remotely before the Covid-19 pandemic. Of those who had never worked remotely, 78% would like to work remotely for some or all of the time after the crisis is over.

The survey was led by Professor Alma McCarthy, Professor Alan Ahearne and Dr Katerina Bohle-Carbonell at NUI Galway, and Tomás Ó Síocháin and Deirdre Frost at WDC. These are the initial findings from the national survey of 7,241 individuals across a wide range of industries and sectors over a one-week week period in April-May 2020.

The top three challenges of working remotely included: Not being able to switch off from work; harder to communicate and collaborate with colleagues and co-workers; and poor physical workspace. The top three benefits of working remotely included: no traffic and no commute; reduced costs of going to work and commuting; and greater flexibility as to how to manage the working day.

The challenge of juggling childcare with work commitments was cited as a key issue in the open-ended comments received. The provision of better ergonomic equipment is one of the key changes suggested by employees to help with their well-being and productivity while working remotely. Many also report the need for more suitable workspace within their home and just under 1-in-5 (19%) identified internet connectivity as an issue.

In relation to current levels of productivity, 37% of respondents indicated that their productivity working remotely during COVID-19 is about the same as normal and 30% report that their productivity is higher than normal. 25% report that their productivity is lower than normal and 9% of respondents indicate that it is impossible to compare productivity as the demand for products/services/business has changed.

The majority (83%) of the 7,241 respondents indicated that they would like to work remotely after the crisis is over. Of these:

— 12% indicated they would like to work remotely on a daily basis
— 42% indicated they would like to work remotely several times a week
— 29% indicated they would like to work remotely several times a month
— 16% indicated they do not want to continue working remotely.

The survey indicates that 87% of those surveyed across all counties in Ireland are now working remotely because of Covid-19.

Speaking about the national survey, Professor Alma McCarthy said: “The findings of our survey indicate that employee preferences to continue working remotely will facilitate the opening up phase and aid with social distancing. The future of work post-COVID-19 is really interesting. The vast majority of respondents want to continue to work remotely when the crisis is over. Many roles and jobs can be performed effectively remotely.

What is the benefit of long commutes to work and sitting in traffic if we can leverage technology at least some of the week to do our work? Productivity does not necessarily correlate with presence in the workplace. What we do is more important than where we do it for many roles. A mindset change is needed by managers and employers in terms of managing work remotely. The current crisis provides an opportunity for organisations and managers to rethink how we work.”

CEO of the Western Development Commission Tomás Ó Síocháin said: “While a significant majority (83%) want to continue working remotely to some degree post-COVID-19, the figure is higher in the West and Midlands. Just over half (51%) would like to work from their home, with the balance seeking a mix of home, a hub/work-sharing space and the office. The preference of working from home or close to home in a hub/work-sharing space will allow individuals a better balance of work and home and generate and sustain economic activity in rural and regional areas.”

Respondents suggest a number of key changes and improvements that their managers and employers should make regarding remote working at present:

— Provision of better and more ergonomic physical workspace including the provision of a good (ergonomic) chair, provision of a printer, and better screens.
— Better management of video-conference meetings
— Reduce expectations and workload to more realistic levels
— Regular communication and check-ins
— Ensure provision of well-being supports

More flexibility in terms of hours of work to cater for caring responsibilities at this time.
The initial survey report is publicly available www.whitakerinstitute.ie. The research team will be doing further analysis and more publications will be available on the websites in the future.

Surf’s up for centre of excellence in Sligo as tender issued

The country’s first surfing centre of excellence could be up and running next year after a tender was issued for its construction in Sligo. The Government announced in November 2018 that the new national surf centre would be located in Strandhill and would be a key centre for visitors looking to capitalise on some of Europe’s best waves while touring along the Atlantic Economic Corridor.

The National Surf Centre of Excellence would also feature an interpretive experience that would tell the story of surfing in Sligo and along the Atlantic coast, an area that, pre-Covid-19, had become increasingly popular with domestic and international surfers.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar announced funding of over €1m from Fáilte Ireland to Sligo County Council for the venture on Strandhill promenade.

“The site is an existing ‘brownfield site and includes an existing single storey ‘domestic’ building and associated structures to the rear. The site is owned by Sligo County Council. The existing buildings and structures are to be demolished as part of the contracted works. The site also includes the existing peace park and renewal of same also forms part of the contracted works.

“The works involve the construction of a new two-storey comprising a state-of-the-art modern national surf centre over two floors with associated siteworks. Works to include demolition of existing buildings and outbuildings to the rear of the existing building, the construction of a new two surf centre and associated site development works.”

The Surf Centre project was also awarded €615,000 from the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund in 2018 and at the time, the Taoiseach said: “Strandhill is already a very popular destination thanks to its wonderful location, great beaches and of course its secret weapon, the waves that have become so popular with locals and visitors alike.

“I am delighted to be announcing this significant funding for the development of the new Strandhill Surf Centre, which I have no doubt will make this coastal town even more popular in the years ahead.”

Story by Noel barker for The Irish Examiner.

Images by GoStrandhill.com

Clare blacksmith forging ahead with protective screens

The Covid-19 health crisis has forced many small businesses to close, while others have had to adapt to survive. It’s particularly challenging for rural businesses. But an award-winning blacksmith in West Clare is now using his traditional skills to make protective screens for small shops and retailers.

Twenty-five-year old Conor Murray is the fifth generation of his family to trade as a blacksmith at his Kilkee forge, carrying on the skills of his forefathers stretching back to the 1800’s and started by his great, great grandfather, also named Connor Murray.

Conor would normally be busy with his iron craft business, combining his forging skills with those of industrial art and design to make bespoke metal sculptures for public parks, large open amenity areas, as well as garden furniture and stairways.

But the pandemic put a halt to demand for such work and he decided to see what needs and opportunities lay in his own rural community that he might meet during this crisis.

Conor was the Co Clare winner of Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur competition last year, run by the Local Enterprise Offices or LEO’s.

He said he had noticed that plenty of big supermarkets and shops were being catered for in the supply of protective screens, but that the smaller stores were being left out.

“I decided to use the prize money I had won in the Entrepreneur competition to invest in some new 3D machinery which would allow me to make purpose built ‘sneeze screens’ which could be adapted to the needs of small shops and retailers,” he explained. 

And there has been a huge demand for his products from pharmacies, grocery shops and fast food outlets across Co Clare.

One of his customers is O’Gorman’s shop and service station in Kilkee.

Owner Anne O’Gorman said she wanted to get something to protect her family, her staff and customers.

“My husband had been sick, so he was vulnerable and I decided to ask Conor to come up with a protective screen that would fit in my store. He came up with a prototype which was exactly what I needed, but at the same time is designed in a way that it is not too intrusive, but very secure,” she said.

Padriac McElwee, who is attached to the Clare Local Enterprise Office says the coronavirus has made it very challenging for small local businesses to survive.

But he said Conor Murray was a good example of the adaptability of our entrepreneurs and how they can change their business models to meet the needs of their communities and at the same time survive economically beyond the pandemic.

He said LEO’s offer a number of supports, including mentoring to help businesses look dispassionately at what opportunities they can exploit.

In addition they are also providing a ‘continuity voucher’ which is effectively a consultancy service about how businesses can re open, what health and safety procedures they will need and how best to implement social distancing, and win customers back.

“We have a wide range of expert consultants available that can help businesses in these very challenging times, and assist them to rebuild as they get back to business,” he said.

University of Limerick works with hospital to create 100,000 face visors for COVID-19 fight

The Rapid Innovation Unit at UL, an SFI Confirm Centre funded 3D printing activity that works in collaboration with University Hospital Limerick, mobilised a team to innovate immediate solutions in response to the COVID-19 crisis.

The unit has previous experience in rapid design and 3D printing of medical devices in response to clinical requests.

Following a request from Professor Paul Burke, Chief Academic Officer at UL Hospitals Group and Vice Dean of Health Sciences at UL, academics and clinicians at the Rapid Innovation Unit at UL worked to design and manufacture novel solutions where doctors had identified potential shortages of equipment should COVID-19 cases surge.

In less than two weeks, the team designed solutions to three critical clinical challenges facing clinicians due to the pandemic.

These include capacity to manufacture 100,000 face visors for HSE front-line staff, refinement of a shield concept to protect anaesthesiologists during patient intubation for ventilation, and design of adapters for respiratory technologies to undergo a clinical trial.

The design solutions will help to protect the health of front line staff and increase treatment capacities in the hospital system.

The first batch of visors were delivered to UHL this Thursday, while the shield box and adaptors are about to be put into practice. The face visors are in Limerick green and say ‘The Limerick Visor: Front Line Heroes’

 

“There has been a phenomenal collaborative effort to deliver these solutions in a very short timeframe,” explained Professor Leonard O’Sullivan, of UL’s School of Design and the Health Research Institute based at UL.

Professor O’Sullivan noted that brothers Aidan and Kevin O’Sullivan, research fellows at UL, had “pulled out all the stops to lead the team to deliver these rapid response solutions for the hospital.”

The collaboration between the Rapid Innovation Unit and the consultants was facilitated by the Health Sciences Academy, a partnership between UL, the UL Hospitals Group and the Mid-West Community Healthcare Organisation.

The HSA, based at the Clinical Education Research Centre at UHL, was established to strengthen links between practicing clinicians and researchers from the University.

The Rapid Innovation Unit worked with local companies on the manufacture of the visors, which will go straight into use on the front line of the COVID-19 fight and were warmly received by the team at the hospital.

Professor Paul Burke explained: “We have heard the World Health Organisation repeatedly stress the importance for governments, healthcare professionals, scientists and industry to act with speed in response to COVID-19.

“It is heartening to see our Health Science Academy being able to facilitate the Rapid Innovation Unit to work closely with our clinicians and local industry to do precisely that,” he added.

Regarding the face visors, Professor O’Sullivan explained the local companies had enabled capacity to manufacture up to 5,000 visors a day.

“The visors can be for multiple use but it is likely also be for single use given the current circumstances,” he explained.

The normal production time on a project like this would take months, but it was done in just nine days. This was accomplished through the local companies working very intensively together, Professor O’Sullivan said.

“We had a team of three consultants and three designers involved in daily brainstorming and design review meetings, which is something you don’t have except in a critical situations,” he explained.

“We went to the coalface to establish what the critical needs were and we delivered solutions. This had to be done as quickly as possible. The local industry partners worked tirelessly to meet the volume production requests,” said Professor O’Sullivan.

Mr Tony Moloney, Consultant Vascular Surgeon, UL Hospitals Group, said: “It seems like a long time ago but it was only on March 26 that the scientists and clinicians who form the Rapid Innovation Unit met for the first time on this. Everything we have ever done as a group has been done remotely in keeping with the COVID-19 guidelines.

“The Limerick companies involved have also been on those conference calls, out-of-hours and seven days a week, and I’m told what would normally take months from concept to production has been completed in a matter of days. Three of the four projects initiated are already complete. These are products that will protect healthcare workers and ensure they are there for their patients at this time,” he added.

This story was provided courtesy of Limerick.ie