Wednesday 21 February 2018

IBM says it will look to use Government's Knowledge Box

IBM's Bill Kearney
IBM's Bill Kearney

Paul O'Donoghue

The head of research at the Irish arm of tech giant IBM has said the firm is exploring ways to exploit the recently announced Knowledge Development Box (KDB) for new projects.

Bill Kearney is the Director of IBM's Software Lab Ireland, the first research lab that the US company opened in the European Union, which employs about 1,000 people across its labs in Dublin, Cork, Galway and Belfast.

IBM, a computer technology and IT consulting corporation, is one of the biggest companies in the world. It had global revenues of almost $93bn in 2014 and employs a total of about 3,000 staff in Ireland.

Speaking to the Irish Independent at the Innovation Showcase 2015, Mr Kearney said that the company is actively considering how to best use the KDB.

When asked if IBM may be able to create more jobs in Ireland by taking advantage of the KDB, Mr Kearney said: "I would like to think so, all we can do is look at the last number of years where we have continued to grow our capacity and R&D...we would like to optimistically think that we will."

Finance Minister Michael Noonan announced the establishment of the KDB in the 2016 Budget, which is aimed at encouraging increased indigenous research in Ireland.

The KDB will allow companies to pay a reduced corporate tax rate of just 6.25pc on qualifying revenue generated by Irish research and development and intellectual property. The rate is half of Ireland's normal corporate tax rate of 12.5pc.

Mr Kearney said "In principle we think it's a good idea [and] we support the scheme.

"At the moment we are understanding the legislation and how and can we use it. We are actively looking at it and actively interested in it."

IBM announced at the end of September that it is expanding its R&D presence here, hiring 110 new staff to work at its Analytics and Solutions Lab.

Mr Kearney said the new staff will be working on software that will assist with the recruitment, training and management of people in the workplace.

"It comes under what is called a 'smarter workforce' and what people will need for a smarter workforce in the future" he said. "You could run data analytics to try and figure out who you might recruit or use cloud software functions for training."

He also said that the Irish research team is looking at developing new features for the company's Watson cognitive technology platform that can break down large amounts of data to help people make more accurate decisions in areas such as healthcare.

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