“I think we’re at the start,” Galvia’s CEO, John Clancy tells me, when I ask him at what stage he believes Galway’s AI ecosystem is.
Galvia is an intelligence engine, specializing in machine learning, that makes the process of gathering, understanding, and simplifying vast data easier and more streamlined. John references Galway’s strengths – NUI Galway’s Insight Centre for Data Analytics, the talent pool, and the synergetic AI scene – as reasons behind the AI boom.
“A number of our team members came from the university that had a research perspective but have now applied it to the real world.
Having just completed a funding round to grow, scale, and productize their offerings, the time was right for John’s company to reassess their identity, and figure out how to successfully establish themselves as industry leaders. And so, earlier in 2022, they rebranded from Chatspace.
Now, with clients spread across numerous industries, from pharma, to universities, to software integration services, and more – they are in a good moment, and much of their success is down to the fact they have invested in the talent that is readily available nearby.
As John explains, “all of our core tech team are living in Galway. A lot of them have come from NUIG, have Master’s degrees, and have come into our business.
“Galway is a big thing for us – I’m from Galway. We branded as Galvia earlier this year, which is the old Latin name for Galway, because we thought it would bring us to a new place this year, and so far it has gone quite well. We’ll always be based in Galway – we may have offices in other parts of the country, and maybe Europe, but Galway will always be our main hub.”
Galvia’s mission is to make AI accessible to any company, no matter the size.
“We make our clients understand: here’s how to manage your data, here’s how to migrate your data into one place, and here’s how to get simple insights out of that. And that’s the most important thing – are you able to move the needle? Whether that’s increasing revenue, reducing cost, or automating a particular workflow,” John explains about how Galvia can build models to suit.
John recognizes that his company needs smart people to build models that can learn by themselves over time, and he says that technology is not necessarily a replacement for anything, rather it’s an auxiliary.
“The technology doesn’t matter until it matters,” he explains.
“If someone’s looking to get into the AI market – AI’s only going to improve or augment people’s lives. I can’t see the machines taking over for a long time because a lot of the problems are hard.
“There’s patterns in everybody’s behaviour, whether we like it or not, and AI is very good at picking up on those patterns. And it’s not always right; people’s tacit knowledge of how they do their job is invaluable. We’re not saying ‘take that element out’, what we’re saying is that ‘the data is telling you this, so you should focus the conversation around what the model is telling you’.”
Galvia’s models can work as a layer inside many of the tools that companies already use – like Power BI, for example, and John explains that their AI is all about growing as each of their clients grow. Their mission is also to make AI cost-effective, meaning that companies don’t need to spend a lot to get the benefit out of it, giving them the autonomy they need to solve problems on their own.
And it’s not just companies that Galvia are using AI to help – they are also working with the National University of Ireland, Galway to provide a way for the third-level institution to improve their student engagement. Galvia’s AI makes it easier for students to find answers to questions – from how and where to get financial aid all the way to finding ways to manage stress. Galvia are also providing a deep insight on data so that NUIG can know what the most pressing issues are.
It’s impressive to see the strides Galvia are making – and the sheer diversity of clients that they have on their books. From speaking to John, it’s obvious that the company are keen to make the data analysis process easier and better for as many of their clients as possible. For them, AI is the way forward in many ways, but John knows all too well the value of people to harness that power – and it’s fantastic that he sees Galway as being so pivotal to all of that.
By Trevor Murray