IN THE PAPERS
In The Papers 12 February
Engineers call for maths, science overhaul | Motorola announces split plan
The Irish Times reports that Cognotec receiver Kieran Wallace is seeking a court order to set aside an agreement allegedly transferring ownership of the company's software rights to Gibraltar-based Syndicated Capital Investments Ltd (SCI). SCI, which is in administration, had invested more than USD2 million in Cognotec, but Barclays Bank, which appointed the receiver, claims it has a priority charge over Cognotec's assets, including IP rights, and SCI has no entitlement to frustrate the receiver's plans to sell those assets to an undisclosed buyer. Justice Peter Kelly said the July 2008 agreement appeared "highly suspect" on the evidence before him.
The paper also says that mobile operator O2 Ireland is to cut 50 jobs in Dublin and Limerick, as reported by ENN on Thursday.
The same paper notes that a government website demonstrating how to use electronic voting machines is still in operation, despite the project being abandoned last year. Minister for the Environment John Gormley said electronicvoting.ie remained in place to assist a taskforce in disposing of the equipment and ending storage arrangements for the machines. Labour environment spokesman Ciaran Lynch said there was no reason to maintain the website and even though the annual maintenance cost was "small beer", it showed the "procrastination, prevarication and lack of leadership since the e-voting machines were introduced and again in disposing of them".
In related news, the paper also reports that the Government spent more than EUR4 million developing an ambitious citizen and community information website that was shut down in December. The Mobhaile project, www.mobhaile.ie, was launched in 2004 for local authorities to use as a portal for citizens to access a wide range of local information. When Information Society funding was cut last year, the decision was taken to stop Mobhaile from 31 December 2009.
The paper also says that a new study has found that 53 percent of Irish shoppers prefer to buy electronic goods in-store rather than online, as reported by ENN.
The same paper says the number of spin-out companies from Irish third-level colleges increased 250 percent in 2009, according to the Irish Universities Association (IUA). New data shows 35 companies were created directly from campus research last year, compared to 10 in 2008. About half of these are in the IT sector, and half are in the bioscience or food areas. The IUA's figures also show a trebling of licensing activity last year, where new technologies or processes created by campus-based research teams are licensed to outside third parties. There were 102 licensing deals last year, compared with 33 in 2008.
The paper also notes that if Ireland does not make investments in teaching maths and science, it will damage the economy, according to Engineers Ireland. Speaking after the launch of a report on maths and science education at second level, John Power, director general of Engineers Ireland, pointed to OECD research that suggests that if Irish literacy levels were brought up to the same level as Finland, it would be worth up to USD10 billion a year. Engineers Ireland called for fundamental change in the way maths is taught in secondary schools. Among the measures it recommends are making science compulsory up to Junior Cert, increased use of technology to teach maths and science, and a ban on calculators until after Junior Cert level.
The Irish Independent reports that Taoiseach Brian Cowen has said that Europe's new jobs plan will be quite similar to the Government's own proposals for employment. The EU will be focusing on job creation based on innovation and technology. Cowen said he wanted there to be an emphasis on competitiveness, R&D, green technology, the low carbon economy and agriculture and food.
The paper also notes that up to 2,000 former Dell workers went to an information forum on Thursday to explore their future options. The majority who attended were former employees, but hundreds of workers who were laid off in subsidiary companies that were reliant on Dell also attended the event at the South Court Hotel, Limerick.
The paper also says that shares in British Telecom plunged almost 10 percent at one stage in London on Thursday after BT said its pension deficit had spiralled to STG9 billion. The UK's pension regulator said it had "substantial concerns" about BT's plans to address the shortfall. Releasing third-quarter results, BT said its adjusted earnings were 11 percent higher at STG1.44 billion, but revenue fell 4 percent to just under STG5.2 billion.
The Financial Times reports that Motorola has announced plans to split itself into two separate publicly quoted companies in the first quarter of next year. As expected, the struggling mobile phone unit and its set-top box business will be folded into one company led by Sanjay Jha, Motorola co-chief executive. The other company, comprising Motorola's enterprise mobility unit and its wireless networking business, will be run by Greg Brown, Motorola's other co-chief executive.
The Wall Street Journal notes that Google has agreed to buy Mechanical Zoo, a company that operates a free question-and-answer web service called Aardvark. Aardvark's technology analyses a user's question to determine what it is about and then searches through the questioner's network of friends to find the best person to answer via instant messenger or e-mail. The deal highlights Google's push to bolster its presence in the social networking space.
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