Science Foundation Ireland and the Department of Defence are supporting academic research teams to work with the Irish Defence Forces to develop innovative solutions to a number of challenges that will have beneficial application and strong positive impact potential for Irish society.

Winning Team


CoPilot-AI - enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of the fire extinguishing capability of rotary-wing aircraft.

Maynooth University





MISTRAL - developing a network of flying, automated drones to provide reliable communications for humanitarian and peacekeeping missions

Tyndall National Institute and Trinity College Dublin


Seed Phase Teams


Challenge Disruptive Ideas

Solution A novel, rapid, inexpensive and portable device will be developed that allows for the detection and discrimination of multiple biological agents relevant to security and public health.

Team Prof Lokesh Joshi (National University of Ireland), Dr Stephen Cunningham (National University of Ireland)


Challenge Disruptive Ideas

Solution Food poisoning and gastro-intestinal viruses are health risks that can significantly affect the operational capabilities of organisations like the Defence Forces. ECHEM SENSE will develop a new type of reusable biosensor, capable of detecting multiple food pathogens, in low resource environments.

Team Dr Robert Johnson (University College Dublin), Prof Seamus Fanning (University College Dublin), DefOrg Liaison Lt Col Anthony Corcoran (Medical Corps)

Smart Hangar

Challenge Cyber-physical system to assist in, or potentially automate, manoeuvring of aircraft between a hangar and apron.

Solution Smart Hangar will develop a co-operative system that will allow a human controller and robot to work together to manoeuvre aircraft.

Team Prof Gerry Lacey (Maynooth University), Dr Marco Cognetti (Maynooth University), DefOrg Liaison Capt Tom Mullarkey (Irish Air Corps)


Concept Phase Teams

Challenge Disruptive Ideas

Solution The power of machine learning and virtual reality will be harnessed to deliver more effective and more environmentally sustainable pilot training.

Team Dr Brian Mac Namee (University College Dublin), Dr Anna Donnla O'Hagan (Dublin City University), DefOrg Liaison Lt Niall Dungan (Irish Air Corps)

Challenge Enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the fire extinguishing capability of rotary-wing aircraft.

Solution An innovative online Decision Support System (DSS) will be developed consisting of tools for data ingestion, aggregation, analysis, and visualisation, to enhance aerial firefighting.

Team Dr Gavin McArdle (University College Dublin), Dr Michela Bertolotto (University College Dublin), DefOrg Liaison Comdt David Mackey (Irish Air Corps)

Challenge Reduce the environmental impact of Defence Force aircraft, land vehicles and vessels.

Solution A novel, scalable and portable Inclined Rotary Gasifier system will be developed to convert waste to gaseous and liquid fuel.

Team Dr Ashish Vashishtha (Carlow Institute of Technology), Dr Rory Monaghan (National University of Ireland, Galway), DefOrg Liaison Capt Aoife Shanley (Corps of Engineers)


Challenge Prevention and detection of water ingress to vessels

Solution Machine learning techniques coupled with sensor data will be used to detect, monitor and predict the effects of water ingress on vessels.

Team Dr David Culliton (Carlow Institute of Technology), Dr James Garland (Carlow Institute of Technology), DefOrg Liaison Lt Cmdr Clodagh McConnell (Irish Naval Service)

Challenge Disruptive Ideas

Solution Marine vessels have a large environmental impact through CO2 emissions and other forms of pollution. Electro-Marine will develop a novel prototype marine electric motor and demonstrate its use on rigid hull inflatable boats (RHIBs).

Team Prof Denis Dowling (University College Dublin), Dr Owen Humphreys (University College Dublin), DefOrg Liaison Lt Cmdr David Memery (Irish Naval Service)