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Funding announcement of €4.6 million into STEM related research projects

Funding announcement of €4.6 million into STEM related research projects

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).

Dublin City University were awarded funding for three projects led by Professor Dermot Diamond, Dr Niall Barron and Dr Andrew Way respectively. 

Prof Dermot Diamond 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. 

Dr Niall Barron will lead a research project on miRNA knockout using CRISPR/Cas9 to enhance recombinant protein productivity in CHO cells. 

Professor Andrew Way is working on creating a system for post-editing of machine translation on touch scren devices. 

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:

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).

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.

7th April, 2017