Industrial Advisory Committee

This group is made up of prominent regional and national Industry leaders who are bipartisan and represent the best interest of our Industry Partners.​


General Manager​

Before joining CONFIRM in April 2018 Bill was a Senior Manufacturing Operations Director with over twelve years operations experience and full P&L responsibility for Global multi-sites operations in minerals processing and renewable energy with a turnover in excess of €100M. Holding a PhD, MBA, B.Sc, Six Sigma Black Belt and a certified Quality Auditor, he is recognised as highly communicative, a clear thinker with a strategic nous, trustworthy, innovative, analytical and highly motivated.

Conor McCarthy

Centre Director & Principal Investigator

Having grown up in Glasnevin, Dublin, Professor Conor McCarthy has spent the best part of the last 20 years in the Mid-west region carrying out research into joining dissimilar materials for high-end industrial applications. Now residing in the lakeside town of Ballina, Co Tipperary, Professor McCarthy is the Centre Director for Confirm – Smart manufacturing, a new major national SFI research centre focused on Smart manufacturing technologies.

Niall Keely

Strategic Program Manager

Niall is our Strategic Research Manager with over 10 years of experience spanning across third-level research, IT, pharmaceutical and clinical trial industries. He has held a wide variety of technical, advisory and management roles; including a support officer role in the Research Office at University of Limerick affording a knowledge of the national and international funding landscape. Niall also has experience of business development and commercialisation of digital products for business excellence and sustainability. Niall holds a PhD in Pharmaceutical Chemistry from Trinity College Dublin, MA in International Entrepreneurship Management from UL, HDip in Systems Analysis from NUI Galway, and BSc in Industrial Chemistry from UL.

Vivian Farrell

Chief Executive Officer – Modular Automation

Over the past 30 years our business has grown and transformed and today we lead the way in the development of cost effective and smart automated solutions for our customers in manufacturing. Our team work hard to continuously impress and deliver for our customers such as J&J, Boston Scientific, Stryker, Medtronic, Molex and Analog Devices. At Modular our talented team are passionate about innovation and that's why we love evaluating and integrating the latest automation technologies. We're always searching for future enabling technologies and technology partners.

Brendan O Dowd

General Manager for Industrial Automation at Analog Devices

Brendan O’Dowd has more than 30 years of experience in the industry working for companies like Tellabs, Apple, and Analog Devices. He is currently the general manager of Analog Devices’ industrial automation business. The factory of the future must be capable of quick adaptation to new demands and new workflows; the key is to build flexibility into industrial automation technology products at the architecture level. One approach which can support this need for flexibility is software-defined I/O, which can be configured as analog or digital, and input or output, without altering wiring.

Brendan Sheppard

CEO at SmartFactory

A professional Mechanical Engineer with more than 20 years’ experience in project management and engineering consultancy gained in a range of leading multinational organisations including Procter & Gamble, Coty Inc., Accantia, Tambrands and Boeing. Expert in data capturing, reporting and continuous process improvement systems gained in the fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) and Lean manufacturing environments. As CEO of SmartFactory, Brendan has been the driving force behind the development of an innovative data capturing, analytics and visualisation solution, particularly focused on medical device manufacturing. Managing Director of Sheppard Consulting since 1999 - proven track record of managing multi-million euro projects for clients. Key skills include project management, capital systems management and advanced troubleshooting techniques. Vast experience with process control and automation including P&ID design, digital-workflows, robotics, high-speed labelling, laser coding and vision systems. Dynamic, positive, adaptable and dependable, with excellent people skills.

Jeff McCann

Customer Solution Centers Global Leader for IoT & 5G Strategy

A leading technologist with over 30-years industry experience, Jeff McCann heads up strategy for the Dell Customer Solution Centres Internet of Things labs globally. A graduate of the University of Limerick & University of Ulster, Jeff has advanced experience in IT data center support, engineering and project management with a personal interest in IT security and IT forensic analysis. Jeff currently holds to post of Adjunct Lecturer at the University of Limerick, specalising in IoT. Jeff mentors Irish start-up companies as part of the Dell Entrepreneur in Residence programme as well as serving on the Dell University Relations board. Outside of Dell, Jeff is vice chairman for the IBEC IoT Working Group, which was convened to examine how Irish companies can position themselves to make the most of the Internet of Things, and has served on the Boards of ISSA and ISACA Irish chapters.

Trish Bourke


Having joined the University of Limerick in 2002 coming from Industry Trish Bourke has worked in the Research Finance Department of the University of Limerick for the past 16 years where she provided a range of financial services, support and advice to the Research community within UL and also externally to the funding agencies, HEI’s and Industry partners to the University

Vivien Cunney

IT Director at Medtronic Global Operations CSH APV

Responsible for the IT portfolio for the CSH APV Global Operations group, working across geographical locations. Partnering with the business to Influence and shape the portfolio to complement the organization's business strategy. Continue to provide direction and leadership to the Parkmore, Galway IT organisation, and functional support to the site leadership team.

Mark McConnell

Head of Johnson & Johnson Automation Centre of Excellence (ACoE)

The centre is responsible for the end to end design, development & Implementation of Automated Manufacturing Equipment, existing & new manufacturing processes on a global scale. ACoE is a core component of the Supply Chain Manufacturing leveraging expertise from the cross disciplinary personnel within the function, combining with five other Centres of Excellence within MET group focusing on 3D Printing, Solids, Liquids, Packaging and future facing Innovations. Mark has become an integral part of developing a successful engineering strategy, envisioning & designing many large-scale projects globally over the past 30 years. He has spent 12 years defining the Vision Care Fleet before founding ACoE and has worked in companies; Electronics, Consumer goods and the Healthcare sectors.Mark has a strong vision for the Future, Digitalisation of Manufacturing throughout the Global Supply Chain.

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