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Minister Mitchell O’Connor announces €4.6 million SFI investment to support 37 research commercialisation projects

Prof Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland, with Dr Gráinne Cunniffe, Research Fellow with the Trinity College Centre for Bioengineering, who is one of the TIDA Awards recipients, working on adding biological function to 3D printed bones, Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Mary Mitchell O’Connor TD and Ann Riordan, Chairperson of the Board of SFI.  

 

  • 47 research positions to be supported through the Awards, which will include entrepreneurship training
  • Commercialisation projects include wearable technology for better management of diabetes; chemical-free technology to address mite infestation of bee hives; 3-D printable antibiotic polymer technology to help fight MRSA and 3D bio-printed bone cartilage for patients with osteoarthritis.

Dublin, 7th April 2017 – Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Mary Mitchell O’Connor TD, today announced €4.6 million in funding for 37 Science Foundation Ireland-funded research projects, which will facilitate the commercialisation of research across a range of disciplines in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).

The SFI Technology Innovation Development Award (TIDA) programme is run in collaboration with Enterprise Ireland and supports researchers undertaking applied research projects that demonstrate potential for strong economic impact. Running since 2009, the SFI TIDA programme provides project development funding and training in entrepreneurship skills to third-level researchers, to support them in exploring commercial opportunities associated with their research.

Speaking of the Awards, Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor said: “I am delighted to announce this investment in research commercialisation and entrepreneurship training, through the SFI TIDA programme. It will enable the research teams to take the first steps in developing new discoveries and inventions with commercial potential. As outlined in the Irish Government’s science strategy, Innovation 2020, we are committed to having one of the most highly skilled and innovative workforces in the world. With SFI-funded researchers receiving entrepreneurship training as part of these awards, we are helping to bring scientific and technological research to market.”

The SFI TIDA programme is designed to enable researchers to focus on the initial stages of an applied research project, facilitating researchers with the opportunity to demonstrate the technical feasibility of their project, directed toward the development of a new or innovative technology, product, process or service that has potential for further commercial development.

Speaking of the announcement, Prof Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland, said: “Science Foundation Ireland is committed to investing in the translation of world-class research from the laboratory to market. We regularly see high quality research discoveries that are likely to have strong economic impact potential; a key objective for Science Foundation Ireland is to increase the number of these discoveries that secure follow-on public or private investment. The SFI TIDA programme plays a key role in this process by providing funding to develop technologies, and by delivering training in entrepreneurship to support Ireland’s next generation of technology start-ups.

Amongst the research activities being funded are:

  • Wearable Sensors
    Prof Dermot Diamond at Dublin City University (DCU) will work to develop a wearable technology that could enable better management of diabetes. This will be based on a contact lens that can be read by a smartphone.
  • Bee Health
    Dr William Wright at University College Cork (UCC) will investigate a chemical-free technology to address Varroa mite infestation of bee hives, which is a major contributing factor to the global decline in the health of bees.
  • Renewable Energy
    Dr Brian Ward at National University Ireland Galway (NUIG) will develop an instrument to improve the characterization of turbulence at tidal energy sites, to assist the tidal renewable energy industry in optimizing turbine efficiency.
  • Anti-Microbial Resistance (AMR)
    Dr Andrew Phillips at University College Dublin (UCD) will work on the development of a 3-D printable antimicrobial polymer technology that incorporates antibiotics designed to prevent hospital-related infections, such as MRSA.

    Prof James O’Gara at NUIG will evaluate new antimicrobials, biomaterials and therapeutic approaches for the treatment and prevention of antimicrobial resistant infections.

    Prof Isabel Rozas at Trinity College Dublin (TCD) will work on the development of a novel topical agent to treat serious bacterial infections in hospitals such as MRSA.

  • Sustainable Agriculture
    Dr Sara Farrona at NUIG will investigate the use of beneficial microorganisms to increase crop resistance and yield.

Under the SFI TIDA Programme, the 37 research projects were funded through nine research bodies, as follows: National University of Ireland Galway (8), Tyndall National institute (1), University College Cork (3), Cork Institute of Technology (1), Trinity College Dublin (11), Dublin City University (3), Dublin Institute of Technology (1), University College Dublin (7) and the Royal College of Surgeons (2).

(A full list of the 37 projects, with details of the institutions and research topics, can be seen here)

Today’s announcement includes support for five early-career stage researchers who have received their first competitively awarded, internationally peer-reviewed research grant. These are:

  • 3D Bio-printing
    Dr Gráinne Cunniffe at TCD will work on the development of novel 3D bio-printing technology to develop a product for cartilage regeneration, in an effort to cure osteoarthritis.
  • Next Generation Optical Communications
    Dr Aleksandra Kaszubowska-Anandarajah at TCD will develop a novel optical transmitter for use in optical communication networks, to address the increasing demands placed on communications infrastructures from consumer access to multimedia content, in sectors like business, social media, and health.
  • Skin Cancer Diagnosis
    Dr Anne-Marie McCarthy at Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) will collaborate with clinicians at Cork University Hospital in the development of a novel, low-cost multi-modal imaging sensor, to enable improved diagnosis of skin cancer.
  • Advances in Solar Cell Technology
    Dr Finn Purcell-Milton at TCD will develop a novel device that can be used to concentrate the sun’s energy onto a solar cell, allowing for effective conversion of the sun’s light into electricity.
  • Process Monitoring in the Pharmaceutical Industry 
    Dr Toufic El Arnaout at Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) will construct a next-generation monitoring probe for analysing particles in real time, for applications in the pharmaceutical industry.