May 16, 2020

SFI to launch smart manufacturing research centre in Limerick

The Science Foundation Ireland
Confirm Centre
Sophie Chapman
2 min
The Science Foundation Ireland opens the Confirm Centre in Limerick
The Science Foundation Ireland has opened a new smart manufacturing research centre in Limerick.

The centre marks one of four research centres across t...

The Science Foundation Ireland has opened a new smart manufacturing research centre in Limerick.

The centre marks one of four research centres across the country, which launched in September 2017.

Between the Irish government and the industry, €114mn (US$134.4mn) worth of financing was invested into the centres.

The Confirm Centre is one of the nation’s largest research and development facilities, working towards Ireland’s manufacturing industry that contributes 24% to the country’s economic output.

The site will be led by the University of Limerick (UL) whilst being supported by 42 industry partners – from small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to major businesses.

The facility aims to develop intelligence and enhanced information technology within the manufacturing sector, with outcomes such as shortened supply chains and new innovations.


“This truly is a game-changer for Irish manufacturing competitiveness,” commented Prof Conor McCarthy, Director of the Confirm Centre.

“The establishment of this SFI research centre will position Ireland to play a leading role in the global smart manufacturing revolution.”

“This innovation will enable consumer-driven mass customisation, where future Irish products will be tailored to individual needs and delivered directly to them just hours after placing orders.”

 “Confirm will act as a beacon for international talent in the areas of advanced manufacturing, from robotics to artificial intelligence.”

“Ireland enjoys a highly skilled and highly motivated workforce in the manufacturing sector; this workforce is the envy of other nations.”

“Confirm builds upon this reputation and seeks to establish a world-leading centre for smart manufacturing.”

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Jun 8, 2021

IMF: Variants Can Still Hurt Manufacturing Recovery

Elise Leise
3 min
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) claims that while markets are rising and manufacturing is coming back, it’ll push for global immunisation

After a year of on-and-off manufacturing in the US, UK, and the eurozone, demand for goods surged early last week. Factories set growth records in April and May, suppliers started to recover, and US crude hit its highest price point since pre-COVID. As vaccination efforts immunise much of the US and UK populations, manufacturers are now able to fully ramp up their supply chains. In fact, GDP growth could approach double-digits by 2022

Now, the ISM productivity measure has surpassed the 50-point mark that separates industry expansion from contraction. Since U.S. president Biden passed his US$1.9tn stimulus package and the UK purchasing managers index (PMI) increased to 65.6, both sides of the Atlantic are facing a much-welcomed manufacturing recovery. 

Lingering Concerns Over COVID

Even as Spain, France, Italy, and Germany race to catch up, and mining companies pushed the FTSE 100 index of list shares to a monthly high of 7,129, some say that UK and US markets still suffer from a lack of confidence in raw material supplies. Yes, the Dow Jones has made up its 19,173-point crash of March 2020, and MSCI’s global stock index is at an all-time high. 

Yet manufacturers around the world realise that these wins will be short-lived until pandemic supply chain bottlenecks are solved. If we keep the status quo, consumers will pay the price. In April, inflation in Germany reached 2.4%, and across the EU’s 19 member countries, overall prices have increased at an unusual pace. Some ask: Is this true recovery? 

IMF: Current Boom Could Falter

Even as Elon Musk tweeted about chip shortages forcing Tesla to raise its prices, UK mining demand skyrocketed; housing markets lifted; and the pound sterling gained value. The International Monetary Fund (IMF), however, cautioned that manufacturing recovery won’t last long if COVID mutates into forms our vaccinations can’t touch. Kristalina Georgieva, Washington’s IMF director, noted that fewer than 1% of African citizens have been vaccinated: “Worldwide access to vaccines offers the best hope for stopping the coronavirus pandemic, saving lives, and securing a broad-based economic recovery”. 

Across the globe, manufacturing companies are keeping a watchful eye on new developments in the spread of COVID. Though US FDA officials don’t think we’ll have to “start at square one” with new vaccines, the March 2021 World Economic Outlook states that “high uncertainty” surrounds the projected 6% global growth. Continued manufacturing success will in large part depend on “the path of the pandemic, the effectiveness of policy support, and the evolution of financial conditions”. 

Mathias Cormann, secretary-general of the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) concurred—without global immunisation, the estimated economic boom expected by 2025 could go kaput. “We need to...pursue an all-out effort to reach the entire world population”, Australia’s finance minister added. US$50bn to end COVID across the world, they imply, is a small investment to restart our economies.

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