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REPORTS OF COMPANY VISITS

VRiSBI International Research Project Ireland 2007

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DUBLIN PORT

Tuesday the 9th of October 2007

On Tuesday October the eighth we visited the Dublin Port Company (DPC). This company is a
self-financing and semi-state owned organisation. The goal of DPC is to facilitate the flow of
goods, passengers and attendant tracking information through the port. This means that DPC
doesn’t actually do the flow of goods themselves, but rather help to organise all the port activities
in an efficient and secure way. They give licenses to companies to use the terminals, they have a
towage and pilot service, they take care of the marine traffic control and they arrange the security
in the port to give some examples of DPC activities
In 2007 the DPC has its tenth birthday; before the DPC was called into being the state would do
all the activities in the port themselves. In the ten years that the DPC is operational it has realized
a tremendous growth in transport, to be more exact it has doubled its throughput. This is probably
due to the way the port is now setup, with the DPC in a central roll and a highly improved
infrastructure. It is also likely that the general growth in Ireland, the Celtic tiger, plays a part. The
most amazing detail is that all this growth was realized without any expansions of the port in
terms of land. Before these changes the Dublin Port was losing market share to competitors, had a
lack of capital investments and also had very high internal costs. This was all turned around by
the DPC.
The Dublin Port Company is led by a board of directors. This board contains a chairman and a
chief executive amongst others. This board contains people out of the business world, people
appointed by the city of Dublin and people appointed by the government of Ireland. The idea
behind this is to create a board that looks after the interests of the stakeholders, Dublin and
Ireland in general. This board is supported by a management team, who will take care of certain
fields in the company.
One of these is the IT manager, Mister Connor Farrell, which gave us a presentation about IT &
the port and after that a tour of the port. During the presentation Mr. Farrell gave us an insight in
the part that the IT played in the growth of the Dublin Port. When the DPC started they had a
very poor ICT system. It had a lack of integrated ICT systems, the Management Information
System (MIS) was inadequate, the invoicing was very slow and there were poor communication
possibilities with the customer. The poor state of the ICT system played a big part in the high
costs of operations in the port and the long time needed for them. DPC decided to start a new ICT
system from zero. This new ICT system has an adequate MIS and a focus on customer
communication among other functionalities. The whole system is wireless in the whole port so
that all customers and every employee of DPC can access their support systems. All these
changes have led to a higher efficiency and customer satisfaction. An example of an achievement
of this new ICT system is the price per unit of throughput; this has gone down with 50%,
expressed in real terms (euros corrected by inflation).

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The future goals of DPC are to maintain the current growth and leading market position in
Ireland. They main challenges are the current rate of inflation in Ireland and the size of the
current port. There is a little stretch left in the area of the port but they will have to expand onto
new land in the near future if they want to facilitate to the current growth rates. A possible option
is to make an extra patch of land into current sea space. However there are a lot of objections by
citizens of Dublin to this expansion and there are also some problems regarding federal
legislations. Another option is to make more efficient use of the current landmass. Another
impact on the daily business is the security rush after 9/11. There are a lot of new legislations like
the ISPS code that force ports to improve there security level. This will of course cost a lot of
investments and threatens the efficiency of DPC. One of the innovative implementations that
DPC is working on is the use of CCTV. CCTV stands for Closed-Circuit Television; this is a
surveillance implementation that brings a higher level of security. DPC is also looking into the
use of RFID chips and electronics seals, but they were still in an orienting phase in which nothing
could be said of the future plans.
During the presentation we got the idea that DPCs company structure was heavily focused on the
cost efficiency and improving efficiency in this way. But they do this by using best practices and
focusing on core activities. In this picture innovation didn’t play a part and so we can call DPC a
re-active company regarding innovation. An example that comes closest to an innovation we can
give is the ICT system that was build from scratch and uses a wireless network for customer and
employees.
To conclude this report we think that DPC can reach their goals if they keep on focusing on their
core activities and by keeping informed about best practices in the industry. This formula has
proven successfully in the past ten years and we see no reason why this would change. The
competitors will have the same kind of problems regarding security and so their efficiency will be
under as much pressure as those of DPC.

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REACH VISIT

Wednesday the 10th of October 2007

Today we are visiting Reach. Reach is a project set up by the Government to deliver specific
eGovernment services in Ireland. Its mission is to improve the quality and efficiency of services
offered by public service agencies to one another and citizens.
We are having a full program today, and as Reach is the first visit we have to be there at 8.45. As
you can expect everyone is very concentrated after a full night of sleep. After a short walk from
our hostel to the train station, we hop on some kind of light rail train to a station near Shelbourne
Street where Reach is located. When we are walking from the rail station to the reach location we
already meet our contact there, Mr. Seamus O'Farrell. He recognized us because we where such
well dressed.
As we are too early, we first get a cup of coffee and then Mr. O’Farrell starts his presentation.
Hopefully you will get a good overview of what he presented by reading this summary.

E-Government in Ireland started with services to businesses. The first service the government
provider was Revue Online Service. This service enabled businesses to view their current
position with Revenue for various taxes and levies and provided a service to pay for them online.
After the first experiences with ROS the government wanted to develop a validated online
identity for all citizens. They learned a lot out of ROS and made sure that Reach wouldn’t be just
IT but also a service which was providing good service with a customer focus.
Reach is under the responsibility of the Department of Social and Family Affairs. This is mainly
because the department had:
• In-house IT
• Most developed focus on customer service
The funding for the project was provided by selling the stocks of the national Telecom provider.
A lot of problems where to be addressed when everything started. For example:
• As there is no citizen’s service number in Ireland, there was a need for unique citizens
number. The Social security number was used to identify all citizens.
• From data vault to service broker. The first idea was an online repository. This changed to a
messaging, authentication service.
• Changed IT thinking during project (SOAP)
The development of reach (services) took a long time. As they started with the first initiatives in
1999 the development of the service started in 2004. The final delivery was in July / August
2007.
An anecdote about this, is that in the first (start up) years of reach they got a lot of visits from
other European countries about how they where developing this E-Government application. Our
(group) visit was the first one in a year. This indicates a bit how the prestige of the reach project
went down.
Current services provided are death and birth notification, online identify management and an
information portal. The lack of a killer application which could boost the use of reach has several
possible reasons:

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• It is every departments own responsibility to implement services into reach (services).
• It is not compulsory to use reach, for example car tax has its own simplified authentication
portal.

Reach is doing a lot in getting feedback from their customers. Often they get criticism on the
services they provide. That’s why they have “talk-groups”. These groups of citizens get a
question about a specific topic and then they need to discuss this topic.
Out these discussions Reach hopes to get useful information about how to improve their services.
One of these improvements has just been implemented; a completely new layout of the reach
website. The old website was logical for the designers, but the users, the citizens had a lot of
problems to find what they need.
As reach has questions to the citizens, we had some questions for reach. Mr O’Farrell was very
kind to answer some of these questions. Below, a short summary of the questions we asked.
The internet penetration is very high in the Netherlands, what is it like in Ireland? In Ireland the
internet penetration is 52%. And with these internet coverage statistics in mind, what is the goal
of the amount of (reach) users you want to achieve? The goal is to get 100% users, Mr O’Farrel
said. But with a user base of half a million we are satisfied for this year.
Are there reports of accounts getting stolen or hacked? There are some reports of stolen accounts
but most of these occur due to too easy passwords. Is there a additional authentication method
like text messages? No there aren’t, but revenue has additional codes you get by mail. We are
ISO compliant when you talk about the setup of the system.
What are the latest developments, particularly in services? The latest development is a project
with the department of justice. We are working together to publish the court papers and police
reports online.
Are there any local governments on reach, and if no, are they able to? There are no local
governments on reach, but there is no technical limitation. There is just no need for them to be
online through reach (services).

After these questions the time was up and we had to go to our next visit, one of the universities in
Dublin. We thank Mr O’Farell for presenting the reach services to us.

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NOVAUCD

Wednesday the 10th of October 2007

1 INTRODUCTION
NovaUCD is the Innovation and Technology Transfer Centre. It’s located in a mid-18th century
house in the Belfield Innovation Park at the University College Dublin. NovaUCD opened its
doors in October 2003. It was funded by a public-private partnership. Six private sector
companies together with Enterprise Ireland funded the build up of NovaUCD.
NovaUCD works together with UCD researchers to find a commercial business model for their
research. This may be either by licensing the intellectual property to existing companies or by
setting up small companies themselves.
NovaUCD supports entrepreneurs and knowledge-based start-up companies by providing advice,
seminars and individual training. NovaUCD also provides incubation and other related facilities
for entrepreneurs, campus companies and knowledge-based ventures. Besides that, NovaUCD has
a role to bring the university and companies together for collaboration. They are the contact point
for companies looking for collaboration in research at the UCD.
Notable successes include the development and licensing of a BSE test, which to date has
generated €2 million in royalty income for UCD and the establishment of a range of spin-off
companies including BiancaMed, Celtic Catalysts, ChangingWorlds, Neosera Systems, NTERA
and WBT Systems who have already successfully raised over €150 million in investment.

2 STRUCTURE AND GOALS


Dr. Pat Frain, director of the NovaUCD leads a team of 13 professional staff members with
expertise in the technology transfer sector. Additionally NovaUCD has a Board of Management
which contains an additional 11 representatives of the industry, public sector and university. This
Board of Management is chaired by Paul McCambridge, Vice-President and Managing Director
of Xilinx.
NovaUCD is part of the University College Dublin which president is Dr. Hugh Brady.
“NovaUCD’s vision is to become an international leader in the commercialisation of research and
other knowledge-intensive activity for the benefit of the economy and society.” (Paul
McCambridge (May 2007), NovaUCD Report 2006, p4)
NovaUCD’s main targets are:
• Early stage commercialisation of Intellectual Property.
• Promoting entrepreneurship and support the set up of spin-off companies.
• Promoting collaboration between the university and industry.
• Increasing the awareness of commercialisation.

3 REFERENCES
NovaUCD (May 2007). NovaUCD Report 2006.
NovaUCD website, http://www.ucd.ie/nova/.
Micéal Whelan (10 October 2007), Presentation for Erasmus University Rotterdam.

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DEPARTMENT OF ENTERPRISE, TRADE & EMPLOYMENT
AND
THE DUTCH EMBASSY

Wednesday the 10th of October 2007

1 DEPARTMENT OF ENTERPRISE, TRADE & EMPLOYMENT


The mission of this department is as they say:
“We will work for Government and the people to equitably grow Ireland's competitiveness and
quality employment.”
The key player in this whole picture is the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment named
Micheál Martin. Further you have the Minister of State for Innovation Policy named Michael
Ahern. This function is just new and very important for all our researchers.
The government policy in 5 key areas are:
• Developing enterprise
• Employment
• Trade promotion
• Protecting workers
• Regulation of Business
The Departmental Structure is as followed:
• Policies and activities overseen by a Management Board – formulates / discusses policies and
strategies
• Budget of €1,500 Million and 980 staff
• Many executive functions carried out by Statutory Agencies
• Policies reviewed regularly –Government programme / Social Partnership / Enterprise
Strategy Group / Small Business Forum
Now we know how the structure of the department is we want to know what their focus is.
There are a few points they want to make clear about their focus:
• Preparing new Strategy Statement up to 2010
• Responding to challenges to our competitiveness
• Implementing Lisbon reforms
• Innovation – stepping up a gear
• Sustaining employment and growth
• Immigration/Skills/Lifelong Learning
• Services Directive
The last important key issue they discussed was the challenges about innovation. They see a low
broadband penetration inhibiting innovation diffusion. This is a challenge where Vodafone can
help them and herself because they have the wireless broadband internet option, so this part of the
problem is already in progress.
Further they have the following challenges to overcome:
• Insufficient participation in life-long learning
• Business investment in R&D

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• Intensify Academia-industry cooperation and collaboration
Because innovation is becoming much more important then in the past, to overcome all these
challenges they have now a Minister of State for Innovation Policy that has to come up with plans
for these challenges.

These were the key elements of the visit of the Department of Enterprise, Trade & Employment.

2 THE DUTCH EMBASSY


We had just finished our visit to the University College of Dublin or we went further ahead to the
Dutch Embassy. The visit with UCD lasted a bit too long so we had to hurry to be on time.
Because we had a few patients that couldn’t walk quickly enough, three of us went ahead by cab
to contact the Dutch Embassy that the rest of the group was coming, but that we had to wait a few
more minutes.
This gave as the time to speak with the host in private and so we asked her a few questions like
what her nationality is, Irish or Dutch, and if she likes the city Dublin.
She also asked us some questions about our study trip like what companies we already visited and
when we would go back home again. After these questions the rest of the group came in and after
everyone had something to drink and took his seat so the presentation began.
The number of employees of the Dutch Embassy in Dublin are 9 in total. These are 4 field
workers and 5 local workers. There are also 3 consulates in Limerick, Cork and Sligo. The boss
of these is officially the Dutch government. So the Dutch Embassy in Dublin has as main content
to take after the economic and political rapports and to keep the Dutch government informed
about the way things are running in Ireland.
This is not their only job. You can also come over for information and questions when you are in
need of this. This is mostly for the Dutch companies or agencies in Ireland, but also for some
Irish agencies.
Dutch and Irish companies can get information about the market. There are also some export
promotion actions where the Dutch Embassy is involved. This can be on her own, or in
cooperation with the EVD.
In the presentation there where some facts about the Irish economy and how it works. For
example they gave the fact that the Irish economy is a small open economy. This is similar to the
Dutch economy. Also the fact that Ireland belongs to the countries within the OECD with the
highest economic growth rates, and they praise the ability of Ireland that is flexible in her
adoption of change.
Further during the presentation they made clear why Ireland is such an attractive country for
companies. They gave a couple of reasons:
• English speaking
• Friendly
• Entrepreneurs
• Openness to international trade in goods and services
• € transparency
Because of these factors, the Irish economy is now known as a knowledge-based economy with a
lot of big multinationals establishing themselves on Irish ground. Especially the companies

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coming from the US are very interested in the Irish ground, because of the “same” language and
the high schooled employers.
These were the key elements of the visit of the Dutch Embassy in Dublin.

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VODAFONE IRELAND

Thursday the 11th of October 2007

On October 11th we had a company visit at Vodafone. Upon arrival we where welcomed by
David Norton. At Vodafone we attended several presentations and where also treated to a big
lunch. The first presentation was a brief one about the company itself. In the second presentation
we where shown some of the new technologies and applications that Vodafone is working on. We
got really excited when David Norton let us examine a couple of new phone. After this
presentation it was time for the lunch. After the lunch Justin Conry presented Vodafone’s Project
Development Process. At the end of this presentation it was time for questions and some closing
words. That concluded our visit at Vodafone. Some general facts about Vodafone follow next.
Vodafone is Ireland’s leading mobile communications operator with over 2.178 million
customers. Vodafone Ireland is located in MountainView, Leopardstown which is approximately
30 minutes from the (Dublin) city centre. Vodafone has a market share of 48%.
The company employs approximately 1,800 people in Dublin and Dunalk. Almost half of the
employees are working in customer care. This fact shows that customer service is an important
aspect to this company. 'Customer first' is the fundamental principle for them at all levels.
The core business of Vodafone is offering the ability to make mobile phone calls to the
customers. Besides phone calls Vodafone also focuses on a number of other innovative products
like mobile internet, mobile broadband and mobile television. They are a company that is
continuously striving to be the first. Therefore they are always in the process of developing new
innovative products and services. They are trying to maintain an innovative environment by:
• Fostering innovation and creative thinking;
• Embracing change and challenging the status quo;
• Listening to all ideas and viewpoints;
• Learning from their successes and mistakes;
• Encouraging and reward informed risk taking.
The companies’ vision is to remain Ireland’s mobile communications leader by helping people
and businesses and communities be more connected in the mobile world. Vodafone strives to
bind people to the company by offering a variety of different products. An example is fixed line
telephony that Vodafone plans to offer.

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INNOVATION & ICT

VRiSBI International Research Project Ireland 2007

Study Association VRiSBI


Kamer H11-02
Postbus 1738
3000 DR ROTTERDAM
Email: info@vrisbi.nl
Internet: www.vrisbi.nl
Tel: +31-10-408 8846

Emiel Caron
Assistant Professor
Room H10-19
P.O.Box 1738
3000 DR Rotterdam
The Netherlands

Email: caron@few.eur.nl
Tel. +31-10-4081342
Fax. +31-10-408 9162

VRiSBI is the study association for the study Economics & Informatics at the Erasmus University
Rotterdam. We have over 350 members and there are around 100 students currently in their final
year of the bachelor or master program.
One of our most important tasks is to connect students of Economics & Informatics with
companies to give them an inside look how it is in the field. We try to do this by regularly
organizing different kinds of activities in association with interested companies.
The development and the pleasure of learning for the student is important to us. We do this by
organizing all kinds of activities like company visits, study trips, symposia, etc. etc.
This report in front of you is part of the VRiSBI International Research Project Ireland 2007. The
CD-Rom contains all the reports and it also contains the presentations from the symposium
‘Innovation & ICT’.
ISBN of the complete report: 978-90-812660-1-7

11
VRiSBI International Research
Project

“Innovation and ICT”


Comparing Ireland with The
Netherlands

Please visit http://studiereis2007.vrisbi.nl for the


complete paper of this presentation.
Other papers and presentations are also available.