Dr Toby Sainsbury



Importance of the Manufacturing Sector in Ireland


Manufacturing is a significant contributor to the Irish economy, directly employing 254,100 and accounting for 32.1% of GDP, a figure which is significantly higher than our European counterparts (EU average 15% (Germany 21%)). IDA client companies’ manufacturing exports exceeded €72bn in 2017 with more than 80% of operations residing outside Dublin.  


Manufacturing is undergoing a global transformation (coined the 4th industrial revolution or Industry 4.0) of which, Advanced Manufacturing is an integral component. This transformation arises from the emergence and convergence of multiple new production and digital technologies alongside an increasing trend towards distributed manufacturing in line with globalization.   

The 4th Industrial revolution will have a multifaceted impact and benefit on industry; it will open up new business models, opportunities and revenue streams and facilitate better connection with the customer, suppliers, and the external ecosystem. This global transformation is underpinned by a suite of digital based ICT and manufacturing technologies such as cloud computing, Internet of Things (IoT), high performance computing, machine learning, artificial intelligence, data analytics, robotics/automation, modeling/simulation, and additive manufacturing.  


The opportunity which is created by the adoption and deployment of digital based technologies to manufacturing operations includes: adaptive production processes, Interconnected manufacturing ecosystems, optimised supply chain operations, improved traceability, more efficient product and service delivery and an evolution of skills within manufacturing operations. More efficient manufacturing processes, less unnecessary human capital, less waste, sustainable economic and environmental footprints for manufacturing operations are all tangible benefits from the transition to Advanced Manufacturing processes.  


The disruptive change promised by Industry 4.0 brings with it a range of potential implications at national and at firm level. Industry 4.0 will challenge existing nations and firms to reassess their respective strategies, capabilities and future investments if they are to remain competitive and take advantage of the process, goods, services and business model opportunities.    

Given the fact that Ireland has evolved to become home to a host of leading technology companies, coupled with intensive high value manufacturing operations across a diverse set of industry sectors, there exists enormous opportunity for Ireland to become a global leader and hub for Advanced Manufacturing.  


In response to this, IDA Ireland has embarked on a series of strategic actions to facilitate clustering of industry stakeholders with a focus on key emergent technologies such as block-chain, cyber security, and advanced manufacturing to drive awareness and collaboration.  

Over the past 5 years IDA Ireland has led extensive stakeholder engagement which has identified the challenges facing Industry and the barriers which exist to the adoption of Industry 4.0 technology. This includes access to technology demonstrators, national leadership and strategy, de-risking investment via state funding mechanisms and coordinated skills development.  This action combines with our dedicated funding mechanisms to support the industry base, and facilitates greater interplay between multi-nationals, small-enterprises and the greater connected supply chain.   

IDA Ireland continues to invest in Advanced Manufacturing Technology to ensure the viability of the manufacturing base continues. This is essential to the sustainability of the multi-nationals, the sub-supply and the integrated supply chain.  Towards this end, IDA Ireland continues to support an array of RD&I investments across an array of innovative technologies such as robotics, automation, augmented reality, systems integration, IoT, Additive Manufacturing, Data Analytics and Artificial Intelligence, to name but a few. Enhanced efficiency resulting from the adoption and deployment of these technologies substantially reduces material waste, enhances energy efficiency and reduces the carbon footprint of manufacturing operations. As such, investment in technology not only ensures commercial viability, but speaks to our country’s commitment to sustainability.  

Stemming from these strategic investments, we see continued investment from our client base, and significantly an enhancement in the mandate for operations in Ireland and the growth of jobs across our industry sectors based on innovation in operations, product development, and business models.  

To summarise; Disruptive change is currently upon the global manufacturing sector. The pace of this change is unprecedented and is driven by global trends and exponential market demand.  In this context, the Irish state, with a substantial manufacturing base, holds the potential to benefit from exceptional strength within complementary industry sectors.   

IDA Ireland will continue to support the manufacturing base by investing in research and development and, most critically, the deployment of Industry 4.0 Technology. This will ensure the viability of the Irish manufacturing sector and align with the mission of the strategic development initiatives of the state. 

About Dr Toby Sainsbury, IDA Technologist:

Engineering and Industrial Technologies Group, IDA Ireland. 

In the Engineering and Industrial technologies Group at IDA Ireland, Toby leads technology focus directed towards the deployment and implementation of Industry 4.0 technologies. This includes Advanced Manufacturing, Internet of Things (IoT), Automation and Robotics, Nanotechnology, Polymer Science/Technology and Industrial Chemistry and Processing Technologies. Within this role in the IDA Engineering and Industrial Technologies Division, Foreign Direct Investment into Ireland is supported by facilitating the access of client companies into the Irish R&D infrastructure, by increasing the R&D mandate of client companies and through business to business collaborative research. 

Toby has 17 years’ experience in R&D and management roles in academia, government, and industry. Prior to joining IDA Ireland, he has worked within start-up nanotechnology companies in the UK, Silicon Valley, and Saudi Arabia, the chemical industry in Germany as well as working in and leading research groups in National Laboratories in the US and UK. Education and academic experience in DIT, UCD, TCD, UC Berkeley, & KAUST. 


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