Lero (software engineering)

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Lero, the Irish Software Research Centre [1], Ireland, is a world-leading Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) research centre [2]. It was established in 2005 as an SFI Centre for Science Engineering and Technology (CSET), being one of nine (originally ten) such centres established by the Irish Government in various areas of science and engineering[3].


Hosted at University of Limerick (UL), Lero, the Irish Software Research Centre, is home to around 250 active researchers across all seven Irish universities and two Institutes of Technology. Its research covers a wide range of software topics, from driverless cars and automation to artificial intelligence and cybersecurity.

Lero brings together researchers from UL, Dublin City University, Dundalk Institute of Technology, Institute of Technology Tralee, National University of Ireland Galway, Maynooth University, Trinity College Dublin, University College Cork and University College Dublin.

Lero is actively engaged with industry and currently has in the region of 50 industry partners [4].

The Lero Centre is supported by a research centre grant from SFI, by other state grants, by industry contributions and by external funding (particularly the EU's research programmes) [5].

The centre has the proven capacity to attract and retain global research leaders and to make a substantial contribution both to software-related research and to the Irish economy.


Lero's first Centre Director was Professor Kevin T Ryan and its Scientific Director was Professor Klaus Pohl. Professor Mike Hinchey was appointed Director of Lero in mid-2010. Professor Bashar Nuseibeh served as Chief Scientist from 2010 to 2014 and was succeeded by Professor Brian Fitzgerald.

In 2016, Professor Fitzgerald was appointed Director of Lero and continues to lead the centre today [6]. Professor Nuseibeh is the centre's Chief Scientist [7].

Joe Gibbs was appointed General Manager [8] in 2018 replacing Brendan O’Malley. Mr Gibbs previously held the role of Business Development Manager at the centre.


Lero's overall vision is to establish Ireland as a location synonymous with high-quality software research and development, to the extent that ‘Irish software’ can enter the lexicon in the same way as ‘German automotive’ or ‘Scandinavian design’.

Thanks to consistent industrial policy over many years, Ireland has become a global centre for software development [9]. Software engineers and developers represent between 5 and 10% of Ireland's workforce. A significant proportion of Irish start-up companies are software-based and there is a thriving ecosystem emerging across the country.

Globally, software-based systems are increasingly important to economic activity and to the normal functioning of our everyday lives. The scope, scale and interconnected nature of such systems are increasing rapidly, with the potential consequences of failure, security breaches or malfunction becoming a growing cause of concern.

Furthermore, the people, development processes, standards and professional practices by which software-based systems are produced and deployed are inconsistent and frequently inadequate. Failure to address this looming crisis increases the probability of more serious and impactful software-based failures.


Lero's mission is to provide the research basis for the Irish software community to become international leaders. Lero is focused on advancing the state-of-the-art in software engineering and related topics. Its research is focused on how software comes into being and how it evolves over time, with an emphasis on reliability, security and fitness-for-purpose. Working with a range of industry partners, Lero's research is focused on helping to improve the quality of software across a broad range of factors and applications, as well as producing a stream of highly qualified software practitioners for the future. The key goal is to improve the practice of software development, thus improving the effectiveness, reliability and security of software and the productivity of the people producing it.


Since its foundation, Lero has extended its focus beyond purely software engineering to embrace a more holistic software research agenda reflecting the needs of its industry partners.

Lero's core platform research is organised into four key areas: Methods and Standards for High-Integrity Systems; Autonomous and Adaptive Systems; Software Performance; and, Security and Privacy.

Lero members across Ireland research a wide range of topics including in the following areas:

  • Agile, lean and flow [10]
  • Agritech [11]
  • Architecture of complex systems [12]
  • Artificial intelligence for good [13]
  • Autonomous systems [14]
  • Autonomous vehicles [15]
  • Connected health [16]
  • Cyber security [17]
  • Formal methods [18]
  • Global software development [19]
  • Governance and business models for smart cities [20]
  • Image processing [21]
  • Machine learning [22]
  • Medical device software standards [23]
  • Modernising legacy software [24]
  • Opensource, innersource and crowdsourcing [25]

Since the centre was founded in 2005, Lero researchers have contributed to more than 2,000 [26] publications.

Industry partners[edit]

Lero works with a wide range of industries, state agencies, educational bodies and international collaborators to deliver on its twin goals of research excellence and social and economic relevance. It has carried out research with Analog Devices, Aughinish Alumina, Bon Secours, DairyMaster, Dell, Fidelity Investments, Hertz, IBM, Intel, Logitech, McHale, Microsoft, Ocuco, StatSports, Toyota, Tullow Oil and Valeo, among others [27].

Economic Impact[edit]

Every €1 invested by the State and industry in Lero between 2005 and 2018 contributed more than €5 to the economy[28].

Lero is part of the world-leading SFI Research Centre network. Since 2005, it has received €98.69 million from national funding agencies including Science Foundation Ireland, the EU and industry. During that time Lero contributed €515.32 million to gross output nationally [29].

In addition, Lero's economic activity has contributed to the creation of 2,678 jobs across Ireland.

For every person working in Lero, 1.5 jobs are generated nationally (including direct employment attributable to Lero and induced employment in the wider economy [30].

Parnas Fellowship[edit]

The David Lorge Parnas Fellowship was established at Lero to honour David Parnas who was Professor of Software Engineering at University of Limerick until his retirement in 2008, and where he is now Emeritus Professor of Software Engineering.

The Fellowship is a senior position and allows talented software researchers and developers to visit Lero on a short-term basis. Fellows can be hosted at any of the Lero partner institutions but are expected to visit at least two Lero sites during their stay.

Fellows collaborate closely with relevant industry partners and deliver a Distinguished Lecture while at Lero. This distinguished Fellowship covers expenses plus a fellowship award of €7,000.

Education and Outreach[edit]

Lero established an Education and Outreach Programme in 2007. The centre organises activities at second-level, third-level and fourth-level. Lero has developed a set of Scratch teaching materials that are being used in many schools around Ireland. It also organises an annual Scratch competition.

Junior Cycle Short Course in Coding

In 2014 Lero was commissioned by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA), Ireland, to write the Junior Cycle Short Course in Coding. The Junior Cycle Short Course Exploring Coding pilot project took place from January 2016-January 2017 in collaboration with JCT (Junior Cycle for Teachers Support Service) and Intel. An interim report “Exploring Coding – a CPD initiative to support the introduction of the junior cycle short course in Coding” was produced by Lero and JCT to document the initiative.

A new Continuing Professional Development phase “Coding in Action” took place from 2017-2018 and in March 2019, it was announced that this would extend to a second phase beginning in September 2019 [31].

Computer Science in Upper Second Level Education

In 2016, Lero was commissioned by the NCCA to conduct research around the provision of computer science in upper second level education internationally: Report on the Provision of Courses in Computer Science in Upper Second Level Education Internationally

Professional Doctorate in Engineering

Lero and University of Limerick (UL) announced a new programme in 2017 which will allow employees study for the equivalent of a PhD without having to give up their jobs. The initiative, which is a first for the software industry in Ireland, aims to have up to 80 people studying for a professional doctorate over the next four years.

The Professional Doctorate in Engineering (PDEng) in software and enterprise excellence, which is designed to facilitate people working in software across all industry sectors, was formally launched by John Halligan T.D., Minister of State for Training, Skills and Innovation.[32]


  1. ^ "Lero - The Irish Software Engineering Research Centre".
  2. ^ "Science Foundation Ireland".
  3. ^ "SFI Annual Report 2005" (PDF).
  4. ^ "Lero Industry Partners".
  5. ^ "About Lero".
  6. ^ "Professor Brian Fitzgerald".
  7. ^ "Prof. Bashar Nuseibeh".
  8. ^ "Joe Gibbs - General Manager".
  9. ^ "Software Industry Sector".
  10. ^ "Agile Lean and Flow".
  11. ^ "Agritech".
  12. ^ "Architecture of Complex Systems".
  13. ^ "Artificial Intelligence for good".
  14. ^ "Autonomous and Adaptive Systems".
  15. ^ "Autonomous Vehicles".
  16. ^ "Connected Health".
  17. ^ "Cyber Security".
  18. ^ "Formal Methods".
  19. ^ "Global Software Development".
  20. ^ "Smart Cities".
  21. ^ "Image Processing".
  22. ^ "Machine Learning".
  23. ^ "Medical Device Software Standards".
  24. ^ "Modernizing Legacy Systems".
  25. ^ "Opensource, Innersource and Crowdsourcing".
  26. ^ "Lero Publications".
  27. ^ "Our Partners".
  28. ^ "Lero Impact Study" (PDF).
  29. ^ "Lero Impact Study" (PDF).
  30. ^ "Lero Impact Study" (PDF).
  31. ^ "Computer Coding Initiative".
  32. ^ "Professional Doctorate".