group photograph from AI Quest at UCC

Inaugural AI Quest at UCC to bring tech talent together on climate action

Submitted on Thursday, 26/10/2023
Initiative ‘a major step forward in the fields of AI and sustainability’


A ground-breaking annual challenge that aims to bring together some of the brightest minds in computing, AI Quest UCC is a collaboration between University College Cork’s School of Computer Science and Information Technology (CSIT), the Insight SFI Research Centre for Data Analytics, the SFI Centre for Research Training in Artificial Intelligence (CRT-AI), and Cadence Design Systems (Ireland).

This initiative is a major step forward in the fields of artificial intelligence (AI) and sustainability. It aims at fostering collaboration and competition among students from Irish universities and around the world to tackle real-world challenges.
This year’s challenge focuses on the development of reliable AI for recognising vegetation patches from high-resolution aerial images of scenic Irish landscapes.

UCC President Prof John O’Halloran called on ‘all AI learners and enthusiasts to embrace our AI challenge with an open heart to help foster a sustainability mindset and bring solutions that can help protect our planet’, adding that it’s a call to action supporting the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Co-originator of the Quest, Dr Harry Nguyen of the Insight SFI Research Centre for Data Analytics, expressed the hope that the UCC AI Quest would become ‘a gateway to a sustainable future, where amazing technologies, real-world challenges and innovative solutions converge. We hope to stir great interest in artificial intelligence, nurture industry-relevant talents, and foster inventive collaborations amongst third-level education students in Ireland and worldwide.’

Steve Hollands, Software Engineering Group & Site Director of Cadence, emphasised the firm’s commitment to ‘developing solutions that can be leveraged to improve efficiency whilst reducing consumption. We are excited to support this challenge, which represents a first class opportunity to showcase the novel application of computational technologies to address evolving sustainability challenges,” he said.

The UCC AI Quest 2023 will contribute to the development of robust artificial intelligence models, facilitating sustainable climate solutions. A new dataset of realistic drone images will be released for benchmarking semantic segmentation from various above-ground levels.

The challenge features several awards, including €5,000 for the best team, €1,000 for the most creative solution, and €1,000 for the top woman of influence.

Target participants for this event include students with a strong passion for building AI solutions, representing third-level education institutions in Ireland and worldwide universities. Teams should consist of 3-5 members, with at least one team member from an Irish university.

UCC AI Quest schedule:

Warm Up Phase: Wednesday, October 25th, 2023, 12 PM (Wed)
Launch of Challenge: Friday, December 15th, 2023, 12 PM (Fri)
End of Challenge: Thursday, January 25th, 2024, 12 PM (Thu)
Solution Presentation & Award Ceremony at Aula Maxima: Saturday, February 3rd, 2024, 1 PM (Sat)

For more information, visit the UCC AI Quest website:

Pictured Front Row L-R

Dr Chrys Ngwa, Insight External Relations & BD manager, UCC
Dr Harry Nguyen, Insight SFI Research Centre for Data Analytics, AI Quest co-originatorJanet Choi – Programme manager for CRT-AI
Prof John O’Halloran– UCC President
Steven Hollands – Software Engineering Group & Site Director, Cadence Design Systems, Ireland
Linda O’Sullivan – Site manager, Insight UCC