11th of December, 2020 Confirm, the world-leading SFI Research Centre in Smart Manufacturing hosted by University of Limerick, has today launched a new headquarters, a bespoke 1,619 m2 Digital Manufacturing facility, located within the University of Limerick Digital District. It has been supported by a €3.1m investment by UL.

A virtual launch of the new facility took place today, attended by Director of Confirm Professor Conor McCarthy, UL President Professor Kerstin Mey, UL Vice President for Research (VPR) Professor Norelee Kennedy and Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland.

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris, TD, sent a video message to congratulate Confirm on opening the new facility.

Confirm is dedicated to fundamentally transforming industry to a smart manufacturing ecosystem by integrating intelligence within products, machines, production systems and supply chains. As such, the Centre is focused on delivering research excellence to inform the future of manufacturing, while underpinning industry through research, talent and collaboration. Confirm believes in creating a community of practice where industry, researchers, and the general public can learn about smart manufacturing and industry 4.0.

Since it launched in October 2017, Confirm has an extensive researcher network that spans nine Irish Higher Education Institutes led by University of Limerick including the Tyndall National Institute, University College Cork, Cork Institute of Technology, National University of Ireland Galway, Athlone Institute of Technology, Maynooth University, Limerick Institute of Technology and the Institute of Technology Tralee, along with those in key international institutions. To date, Confirm has secured €47 million in research from industry, government and from non-exchequer sources. Confirm works collaboratively with industry to pioneer research excellence to meet current and future smart manufacturing needs. Confirm gives industry partners a competitive advantage by ensuring the right research team is working to drive business readiness for Industry 4.0. Confirm has experience working across MNC and SMEs within diverse sectors, including, Pharmaceuticals, Medical Devices, Chemical, Nutrition & Beverage, Computer, Electronic, Optical, and Electrical equipment.

The Confirm Centre hosts 130 researchers, 12 operational and management staff with a number of additional positions available in the coming months. The new facility includes a large test-bed to house Ireland’s future factory demonstrators, an 8 metre diameter Virtual Reality Cave, a 10Gbyte internet access, the first 5G Digital Manufacturing Network in Ireland, and a Digital Manufacturing lab to include 3D printing and non-contact 3D part scanning. This facility will be the centrepiece of Confirm’s research network and through a dedicated Community of Practice area – will link our researchers, industry partners and the general public together to raise the profile of manufacturing in Ireland and Internationally.

Congratulating the Centre on the opening of its new facilities Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris, TD said: “The opening of the Confirm SFI Research Centre’s new digital HQ provides an important hub for digital and smart manufacturing in Ireland, which will support the transformation of industry through excellent research, providing for our future skills needs in this important sector and enabling the general public to see the future of manufacturing.  The Centre extends far beyond it’s fantastic new facility through its partnership across the higher education institutions and its significant industry and international collaborations. I wish the Centre every success in the future. ”

Speaking at the virtual launch, Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland said: “I’m delighted to participate in today’s virtual launch of the bespoke digital manufacturing facility at University of Limerick which provides the headquarters for the Confirm SFI Research Centre.  This facility will provide the hub for delivering excellent research, developing future talent through vital training, and supporting industry by providing access to expertise in the area of smart and digital manufacturing. I congratulate everyone involved at the  University of Limerick in establishing this critical national facility.”

Director of Confirm Professor Conor Mc Carthy said: “I’m delighted to open Confirm Centre Headquarters today at our virtual launch. Confirm HQ is our brand-new digital manufacturing research facility located at University of Limerick’s Digital District and at the gates of Limerick city. Confirm is an SFI-Industry funded centre for Cyber-Physical Manufacturing systems and digital supply chain research. Confirm is essentially about helping industry make the right manufacturing decisions by developing new technologies based on fundamental manufacturing science principles, thus leading to major economic, societal and environmental impact. Confirm HQ is designed around this theme, and we brought together the best elements of both national and international manufacturing centres of excellence to result in a truly world-class research facility to support Ireland in its journey to become a leading digital manufacturing powerhouse globally. Confirm HQ houses the i4 Experience, a full 3D immersive Industry 4.0 museum, and a private 5G internal network, both the first in Ireland. It hosts major industry and academic partners to carry out research in digital manufacturing production tools, including a major robotics suite; it hosts our community of practice area, a 100- seater venue designed to bring the public, industry and academia together to help encourage more young people and women into this exciting and, given it is Ireland’s second largest employer, important field. Finally, and most importantly, it hosts over 70 researchers and research management staff. I look forward to meeting you in 2021, where we aim to have our Confirm HQ Physical launch, where you will be able to experience first-hand the major advances in Smart Manufacturing."

Commenting on the centre, UL President Professor Kerstin Mey said: “Prior to the outbreak of COVID-19, industry was very cognisant of the importance of research impact. The past period has shown that the sharing of knowledge and insights across disciplines and geographic boundaries can be of huge benefit to a community as a whole. During this time, CONFIRM completed and created a new dynamic space to highlight the value of collaboration and sharing of expertise, facilities and connectivity in smart manufacturing. UL and its hosting of CONFIRM is leading the way in the fourth industrial revolution and therefore amplifying its strength in research. The figures are there to support the importance of the manufacturing sector in Ireland with 4,000 manufacturing enterprises contributing €112 billion in exports and employing 440,000 directly and indirectly. In support of that, the new bespoke facility will see the development of smart innovations at CONFIRM and subsequently increase competitiveness for those engaged in the sector. The CONFIRM HQ will enable research to develop future smart manufacturing technologies, build on the talent within our community and the engaged public to change the perception of manufacturing in Ireland and therefore allow for a community of practice to embrace the 4th Industrial revolution together. This is a very exciting time for CONFIRM, UL and impactful development research as a whole.”

UL Vice President for Research (VPR) Professor Norelee Kennedy said: “The hosting of Confirm builds on the University of Limerick’s long history of involvement in manufacturing by bringing together the various aspects of manufacturing research, education and industry engagement. In recognition of the importance of Confirm to the University over €3.1 million in funding has been allocated to support the development of Confirm HQ as well as the creation of a number of academic posts to support its ambitions. Confirm, with its unique focus on cyber physical manufacturing, allows for the development of new areas of discovery that further builds on UL’s strengths including mathematics, robotics, health and materials. We are delighted to host the centre and to work with our colleagues internationally, nationally and in the Mid-West to ensure Confirm becomes a global leader in the field of smart manufacturing and that it delivers cutting edge research in the field of manufacturing."