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DCU wins two SFI Strategic Cluster awards

Pictured were Miles Turner of DCU, Padraig Cunningham of UCD, Brett Paull of DCU, Minister for Science, Technology and Innovation Dr. Jimmy Devins T.D, William Donnelly of WIT and Prof Lokesh Joshi of NUIG.

Today’s announcement by Tanaiste - DCU wins two SFI Strategic Cluster awards

The Tanaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Mary Coughlan TD, today announced the establishment of five new Science Foundation Ireland Strategic Research Clusters, representing a €23.9m investment in ground-breaking, collaborative research activities involving seven academic institutions and 22 companies.

Of these five new Research Clusters, two Lead Principal Investigators are based in Dublin City University.

Prof Miles Turner of DCU’s School of Physical Sciences will lead the Precision Research Cluster (€4.3m) and Professor Brett Paul of the School of Chemical Sciences will lead the Irish Separation Science Cluster (€4.9m)

At the announcement today, the Tanaiste said, “Science, while engaging and exciting, is also a fiercely competitive arena, and it is increasingly clear that a country’s economic fortunes are significantly dependent on its ability to conduct research that translates into economically-beneficial outcomes. The Government’s ‘Building Ireland’s Smart Economy’ framework prioritises continued investment in science and engineering infrastructure to assist with the creation of a thriving enterprise sector, high-quality employment and first-class infrastructure. The 170 highly skilled personnel involved in these SRCs, together with the 22 partner companies are central to achieving this”.

Prof Brett Paull
Prof Miles Turner

The President of Dublin City University, Professor Ferdinand von Prondzynski welcomed today’s announcement. “DCU is of course very pleased by today’s decision which is an endorsement of the high calibre of research activity being carried out by this university in conjunction with its partners in industry and in other third-level institutions. Two of the five awards announced today have gone to DCU, and both programmes of research will link closely with industry and with Ireland's needs as we try to escape from the recession. The Strategic Research Clusters are among Ireland’s most prestigious awards, and will play a major role in developing Ireland’s economy with the help of innovative science and technology."

Prof. Miles Turner 'Precision' Research Cluster is being conducted in partnership with UCD and with seven companies drawn from the semiconductor and biomedical sectors: Intel, Lexas Research, Impedans and Straatum, Holfield Plastics as well as campus companies with few employees but large potential for growth.  These companies are united by their interest in using plasmas to manufacture innovative products at low cost.  The Precision SRC aims to help them do this, while expanding the realm of fundamental knowledge and adding to Ireland's pool of highly talented scientists and technologists.

Prof Turner said, " The strategic aim of the Precision SRC is to develop a knowledge-base and a human capital base to support industries adopting plasma technology for nano-manufacturing in Ireland. These high technology industries are major contributors to exports and economic growth.  Electronics, for example, recently accounted for about 5% of employment in Ireland, but about 40% of exports by value.  Growth in the semiconductor device industry is expected to be about 15% annually for the foreseeable future”.

Prof. Brett Paull of DCU's School of Chemical Sciences was awarded over €4.9m to establish the Irish Separation Science Cluster in conjunction with UCC and industry partners Bristol Myers Squibb, Agilent Technologies, Dionex Corporation, Waters Technology Ireland Ltd and Pfizer Ireland.

Future developments within separation science will impact directly upon issues and activities such as environmental monitoring, health monitoring, food production and the new generation of pharmaceuticals, each of which are vital to the continued growth and development of leading Irish industries and the Irish economy as a whole.

The Irish Separation Science Cluster brings together a team of researchers from a multidisciplinary background, spanning chemistry and materials, biotechnology and engineering, to develop the next generation of materials, methods and technologies to enable separation science overcome future challenges in the understanding and characterisation of complex biological systems, with particular emphasis being placed upon application within the growing biopharmaceutical and medical diagnostic industries.

Dr. Mirek Macka and Dr. Brendan O’Connor are co-PI’s while Dr. Dermot Brabazon is a funded researcher for the cluster from DCU. Professor Jeremy Glennon heads the UCC team along with Dr Miroslav Pravda, while Dr. Dara Fitzpatrick is a funded researcher. The funding approximately will create 7 new postdoctoral researcher positions, along with 16 PhD positions, 4 PIs including lead PI, 3 investigators, 1 50% funded managerial position and 1 50% funded administrative position.