Institute of Technology Tralee has been awarded €1.26 million in new funding to partner in two new research initiatives. This brings to over €11m the total value of research grants secured by IT Tralee from competitive national and EU funding bodies in the past 12 months.
IT Tralee will receive €940,000 under the EU Agricultural European Innovation Partnership (EIP-AGRI), which is co-funded by the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine and the EU, to lead the Biorefinery Glas project, Ireland’s first small-scale bioeconomy initiative. The Biorefinery Glas project aims to address key challenges in Irish agriculture while promoting farmer diversification into Ireland’s exciting and growing bioeconomy. Within this, IT Tralee will partner with University College Dublin, the Carbery Group, Barryroe Co-Operative and Wageningen University-spinout GRASSA BV on the Biorefinery Glas project, through which farmers will demonstrate new business models, using an automated and low-cost biorefinery model, which integrates well within traditional beef and dairy farming and could be replicated across Ireland, addressing fodder and emissions challenges while adding value to primary production. The two-year demonstration project will commence in 2019 at IT Tralee.
Commenting on the announcement Project Coordinator and Principal Investigator in Bioeconomy at Institute of Technology, Tralee James Gaffey said, “Biorefinery Glas is one of the first bioeconomy initiatives in Europe which looks at moving farmers further up the bioeconomy value-chain; becoming bio-processors, rather than simply suppliers of low-cost biomass. The project comes at a timely moment, as the EU Commission in its recent Bioeconomy Strategy update highlighted the need for better integration of primary producers within the bioeconomy.”
Biorefinery Glas aims to increase the usable protein per hectare of grass by 40%, creating feed for both ruminant and non-ruminant animals, reducing feed imports and emissions while co-producing value-added co-products for the food, feed, energy and fertiliser markets. The project will evaluate new rural bioeconomy business models, including farm-to-farm bioeconomy symbiosis and represents one of the first projects in Europe to support farmers in uptake of biorefinery technology, demonstrating a unique model for farmer diversification into the Bioecoomy. The project comes at a critical moment for both Ireland and the EU, with the Commission’s proposal for the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) aiming to make a much stronger contribution to the sustainable development agenda. Additional information on this project can be obtained from the Shannon Applied Biotechnology Centre at IT Tralee – 066 7144253.
Additional research funding of €268,000 was awarded to IT Tralee under the EU Interreg Atlantic Area Programme. This initiative will see IT Tralee work with research partners in UK, Spain, Portugal and France to develop joint solutions to shared transnational challenges faced that impede sustainable ‘blue’ growth in the marine and maritime sectors along respective EU Atlantic coastlines. This collaborative project entitled ‘Funding Atlantic Network for Blue Economy Technology Transfer’ or ‘FANBEST’, aims to improve the technology transfer strategies to SMEs of the blue economy by creating a support network of public and private entities focused on the fund raising that make possible the start and scale-up phase. The 'blue' economy represents roughly 5.4 million jobs and generates a gross added value of almost €500 billion a year. The project is set to start in 2019 and will run for 3 years.
Speaking on the project, Dr Helena McMahon Principal Investigator and External Services Manager at IT Tralee said, “There is real energy and momentum around Circular Bioeconomy in Ireland and FANBEST adds to the growing Circular Bioeconomy research and enterprise engagement portfolio at IT Tralee. We have a great team in place with Breda O Dwyer and James Gaffey from the CEED and Shannon ABC Research Centres at IT Tralee, and we are looking forward to engaging with companies, researchers and agencies from across the marine sectors over the coming years on this potentially disruptive project to support enterprise versification and resources efficiency within the Marine Sector”
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