As of July 2020, BiOrbic, Bioeconomy SFI Research Centre and Shannon Applied Biotechnology Centre at Limerick Institute of Technology and the Institute of Technology, Tralee have signed a partnership agreement to work together in developing Ireland’s emerging bioeconomy. A circular, sustainable bioeconomy is thought to be a key component in addressing the national climate change crisis.

The new Programme for Government sets out ambitious targets for an average 7% per annum reduction in overall greenhouse gas emissions from 2021 to 2030 (a 51% reduction over the decade) and to achieving net zero emissions by 2050. This will need to be achieved in a current and post Covid-19 context, while maintaining employment figures and protecting industry from an economic recession.

Progress towards a circular, sustainable bioeconomy can provide a proactive, multi-pronged solution. By identifying how biological resources can be used more efficiently and engineering the means to turn waste into high-value products, Ireland can reduce its carbon footprint while creating new jobs and supporting its agricultural and marine industries.

Research conducted at Shannon ABC and BiOrbic are paving the way for these developments. Both centres work closely with industry to ensure new practices are taken from intellectual conception right through to the commercial market. However, to truly unearth all opportunities and solutions within the bioeconomy, research centres will need to exchange specialist knowledge with each other and with their associated industrial partners.

Through the signed MoU, both BiOrbic and Shannon ABC have committed to supporting each other in identifying synergistic research opportunities, commercialising these activities and engaging industry partners. The aim is to simultaneously expand and accelerate the impact of this crucial research and provide a more accessible research network for industry to tap into.

Prof Kevin O’Connor, Director at BiOrbic said upon signing the MOU, ‘collaboration is a core value for BiOrbic, and we need to work together with partners like Shannon ABC, industry, producers, policy makers, local communities and others to build a vibrant sustainable circular bioeconomy.  Our partnership with Shannon ABC is a significant step in connecting national expertise together, particularly for the benefit of industry’

Dr Tim Yeomans, Director at Shannon ABC said ‘Shannon ABC was established over 10 years ago to help companies get more value from bioresources; this expertise is now central to a successful bioeconomy. We are delighted to sign this MOU with BiOrbic to identify ways we can collaborate more closely to deliver results for Irish industry to help them benefit from an active bioeconomy’

Dr Liam Brown, Vice President for Research, Development and Innovation at LIT said ‘LIT is already collaborating with BiOrbic host institution UCD and TCD as founder members of the Irish Bioeconomy Foundation and I’m delighted that the collaborative endeavours between BioOrbic, Bioeconomy SFI Research Centre and Shannon ABC, our flagship Enterprise Ireland Technology Gateway, are being formalised. This will serve both our industrial partners and the environmental agenda, which has become so important to the future survival of our planet. It is collaborations like these that help to really make a difference’