AN early-stage tech business from Newry has secured a £75,000 proof of concept grant as the winner of a new competition from Techstart Ventures and Belfast Harbour, with support from BT.
Machine Eye will receive £75,000 of grant funding from Techstart, with Belfast Harbour providing an environment to develop, refine and test their innovations and BT also offering a package of support, including expert support and access to the 5G private network being developed in partnership with Belfast Harbour.
Machine Eye provides an intelligent safety system for agricultural and industrial machinery, which harnesses the power of Artificial Intelligence and computer vision to create safer workplaces. Like an airbag on a car, its “human protection platform” is designed to intervene in the crucial seconds before an accident occurs in an outdoor, industrial setting in order to save lives.
The competition, which provided an opportunity for innovative thinkers to submit ideas for new technology solutions, aligns with Belfast Harbour’s key strategic Smart Port ambition to stimulate innovation and keep its employees, customers and visitors safe using innovative digital solutions.
Brendan Digney, founder of Machine Eye, said: “Machine Eye aims to act as a safety net, providing protection for all those in primary industries, regardless of whether they are a worker or bystander. By analysing human and machine behaviour, Machine Eye acts ahead of time, identifying and preventing accidents before they’ve a chance to develop.
“We are really excited to have won the competition as it provides us with funding to deploy our proof-of-concept system, pilot hardware and develop capabilities further for practical commercial use. The opportunity to work alongside Belfast Harbour and BT, in the operational harbour environment will also be invaluable.”
Trevor Anderson, Infrastructure and Business Transformation Director at Belfast Harbour, said: “We congratulate Brendan and everyone at Machine Eye on being chosen as our winner after a highly competitive process. At Belfast Harbour we are continually innovating to minimise health and safety risks and we could see the clear benefits of Machine Eye’s proposed solution being deployed in a port setting where pedestrians and heavy machinery operate in close proximity. Our 2035 ‘Port for Everyone’ vision sets out our goals to become a Smart port, and to support the development of the local economy through partnerships that encourage R&D, skills and innovation. Working with Machine Eye on this project is a perfect example of this approach in action.”
Kathleen Garrett from Techstart, said: “Machine Eye has a unique opportunity to work closely with the people who will use its product while it is still being developed. We have found that building early versions of products with the close involvement of a first customer can be really helpful. We are hopeful this initiative will help the company to accelerate its high growth potential.”
Mark Gibson, Business Development Director at BT in Northern Ireland, said: “Winning this competition is a fantastic opportunity to accelerate innovation and I would like to congratulate Brendan and the team at Machine Eye on their enthusiasm and well-deserved prize.
“As one of the largest investors of innovation in the UK, BT is delighted to be providing Machine Eye with access to our 5G network as well as offering our business expertise to help the company to develop and grow this innovative concept.
“5G can deliver massive benefits to business and industry. Not only will the network provide Machine Eye with ultra-fast speeds and the reliability needed to launch their business, but it will help improve operational efficiency and productivity, fast knowledge transfer and higher employee satisfaction and engagement. We look forward to working with Brendan and his team to support them as they grow their new business.”
Entries to the competition covered a number of innovations relating to lone working and industrial IoT, including worker biometrics, movement tracking, usage stats, productivity, maintenance and health and safety training.