Limerick-based software research Lero has received a €133,000 research grant to commercialise a training application designed to facilitate collaboration, communications and productivity across culturally diverse teams.
The award was made under Enterprise Ireland’s commercialisation programme, co-funded by the EU through the European Regional Development Fund.
Operating out of the University of Limerick, Lero brings together researchers from Dublin City University, Dundalk Institute of Technology, NUI Galway, NUI Maynooth, Trinity College Dublin, University College Cork, University College Dublin and University of Limerick.
It is funded by Science Foundation Ireland, as well as by contracts from Irish and International technology corporations.
Describing the need for the proposed training application, Dr Sarah Beecham, who is heading the Lero project team, said: “Today’s global businesses require their employees to work in virtual teams and communicate with stakeholders who may not share the same culture or first language.
“Potential applications range from global software development to international sales and multinational staff motivation.”
“Cultural training is now recognised as important to many multinational software engineering organisations, who are investing millions in providing communication-related courses for their employees.”
If successful, Dr Beecham added that the project could be spun out as an Irish company or licensed to another firm.
The prototype application, called ‘Venture’, uses an avatar to advise trainees in real time how an email or instant messaging communication could be inappropiate.
Beecham said: “It also adapts to cultural norms, depending on the location and nationality of the participants.”
Venture incorporates three key elements: chat and e-mail simulators, a scenario designer and automated assesment.
The original idea and groundwork for Venture came from a PhD research project conducted by ex-Lero University of Limerick and University of Castilla-La Mancha student, Dr Miguel Monasor.