Minister Opens IT, Tralee €2.5m Joint Research Venture

Horse chestnuts, bone cement, optical lenses and fish waste are just some of the materials to be developed for use by companies in three new applied research enhancement centres opened by the Minister for Science Technology and Innovation, Dr. Jimmy Devins T.D on the 23rd and 24th of October 2008.

Between them the centres have received €5 million in funding from Enterprise Ireland through its Applied Research Enhancement Centre Programme which focuses on delivering research-based solutions to industry needs in regional locations.

Minister Devins cut the ribbon for the Shannon Applied Biotechnology Cluster, a joint centre between the Institute of Technology Tralee and Limerick Institute of Technology, on Friday, October 24 on the second day of his visit to third level institutions in Munster.

Each centre has particular expertise relevant to companies in their vicinity. The mining of low-cost natural materials like horse chestnuts, seaweed, apple pulp, fish waste and even blood recovered from routine surgeries to extract valuable by-products will be the main activity of the Shannon ABC.

Medicinal products, food flavours and immune-system boosters are just a few of the commercial opportunities that the researchers in the Shannon ABC are offering to the local food, agricultural and aquaculture industries.

Mr. Michael Carmody, President of IT, Tralee said: ⿿The establishment of Shannon ABC as a strategic development of the Natural Products Research Centre at ITT and the Nutraceuticals Research Centre at LIT is vital to the consolidation, enhancement and commercialization of applied biotechnology research and development in the Shannon Region of Ireland⿝.

Dr. Jerry Clifford, Head of Development IT, Tralee added: ⿿The newly funded cluster will create a critical mass of coordinated research activity which is essential for quality research and innovation. Close interactions with companies and the subsequent transferring of knowledge of direct relevance to businesses will promote increased diversification, growth and competitiveness of the existing industry. Enterprise Ireland and Shannon ABC will work together towards transforming the industry⿝.

Speaking at the opening of the Applied Research Enhancement Centres Minister Devins said: â¿¿This €5 million investment in three new applied research centres is part of the drive to reach our targets under the Governmentâ¿¿s Strategy for Science, Technology and Innovation.   The applied research enhancement programme is a prime example of Enterprise Irelandâ¿¿s focus on increasing the levels of collaboration between companies and third level institutions to deliver maximum value for research results.

⿿I look forward to seeing the outputs of the collaborative research put into action for the benefit of companies, and people in Munster⿝, the Minister continued.

Making a commitment to making similar research expertise available to companies in other parts of Ireland, Dr. Martin Lyes, Enterprise Ireland⿿s Research and Innovation Manager said: ⿿These 3 applied research centres brings the number of these centres to 14 in 10 Institutes of Technology. Enterprise Ireland is committed to delivering up to 3 applied research centres in all of the 14 Institutes of Technology in Ireland so that companies in every town in the country can access research resources that are relevant to their business. By bringing researchers and companies together, these applied research centres will turn innovative business ideas into commercial realities⿝.

Cork IT is home to the other two centres opened by the Minister â¿¿ the Medical Engineering Design and Innovation Centre (MEDIC) and the Centre for Advanced Photonics and Process Analysis (CAPPA).

The CAPPA centre at Cork IT has already started delivering solutions for two multinational companies based in Cork, producing an intra-ocular lens for medical devices company Alcon, and working with the world-leader in personal electronics Logitech to deliver the next generation remote control. CAPPA is also helping Epi-Light, a local start-up company, to develop LED lighting systems for use in the medical devices, pharma and life-science sectors.

The MEDIC centre, also at Cork IT will collaborate with clinicians and biomedical engineers in Cork University Hospital, the Mid-Western Regional and St. Maryâ¿¿s Orthopaedic hospitals as well as with local companies manufacturing medical devices to develop new tools and materials to help patients.

These include; surgical bone-cutting tools and cement, rehabilitation devices to assist stroke patients and children with cerebral palsy orthopaedic implants to speed the repair of bone fractures.