SeaFi award winner innovator of the year 2013 at the IMERC Conference

L-R: Karyn Morrissey, University of Liverpool; Paul Butler, Enterprise Ireland; Arnaud Disant, Sea-Fi / SEA-Tech; David McDonald, Sea-Fi, Donagh Buckley, EMC; and Gillian Keating, Cork Chamber of Commerce. Credit photo: Navy Press Office

Around 2005, having learnt my trade (messaging) in ISOCOR for a few years, I started going around coining the terms Marine IT which soon became Marine ICT as communications are now part of Information Technology (IT). Needingless to say the idea of sending an email at sea at the time sounded ludicrous to most seafarers. People kept telling me it would not work, a computer would never float. I tried publishing an article in Wikipedia four years after, it got deleted on the basis that there wasn't such a thing as Marine IT, pedantic uninspired or visionless who can tell? One professional in the maritime sector even said to me once: "when you'll have 4 units on the water come back and see me..."- I never bothered, he ran out of business anyway...



Eight years later, Marine ICT only is taught at the prestigious National Maritime College of Ireland as evening class. We have also actively contributed to the Electro-Technician Officer's course. We are considering delivering the course abroad. Marine ICT is also a catalist for very disruptive technology. SEA-Tech is a registered IMCA consulting practice engaging with the Irish Naval Service. If I was to pick only four units / ships, I would say in no particular order:

    • ALADY: 1083 days at sea maintaining a blog emailing and running a ship tracking solution
    • STY Creidne: Outstanding communications - Tall ship 2012, I have a crush on this one anyway!
    • LE Orla: First navy ship to broadcast data 14NM (27 km) using SeaFi technology
    • For the fourth unit, I would have to think hard between the mighty MV Denis Murphy, owned by our customer Port of Cork and packed with IT on board, or the elegant Cork Smartbay buoy broadcasting data off the Trabolgan bay, anytime, anyday, no matter the weather conditions. 


Efforts always pay, mostly the most disruptive innovative efforts, and today was pay day as my partner David McDonald from Nova Broadband and I won the award for innovator of the year at the IMERC conference. The IMERC Conference is certainly the one must attend event in the year if you are working in the maritime community. IMERC, the Irish Maritime and Energy Resource Cluster, is a partnership between University College CorkCork Institute of Technology and the Irish Naval Service.

IMERC-Conf-webIMERC's vision is to promote Ireland as a world-renowned research and development location, that unlocks Ireland's maritime and energy potential. IMERC also aims to harness and integrate diverse research and industry expertise through the development of an innovation cluster. Today this cluster is composed of a handful of companies, like SEA-Tech, some of which like our friends of Skytec you keep hearing about on this blog. However, more companies are rejoining us, some larger than others. This year's IMERC Conference was about disruptive innovation.

Today, my colleague from Murray Associates, the architect Rob McConnell said at the IMERC conference, "I wish the people of Ireland would be acknowledged as maritime experts like Scotland who brought forward their engineers". I thought it was really the most inspiring element of the conference and so much in tune with what we, IMERC entrepreneurs are up to.

In the end, this is exactly what this award is about for us, we are very conscious that without the INS and IMERC we probably would not have been able to produce SeaFi, imagine it, certainly, but bringing to market is not just a matter of imagination. There is more to it, but maybe this is material for some other post on the SEA-Tech Technoblog. Port of Cork our lead partner has been instrumental in making SeaFi a commercial reality in the past couple of months. Today, we are very proud of our new award, but also very aware, that this is only the beginning for SeaFi...