Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Mary Mitchell O’Connor TD, together with Minister for Training, Skills and Innovation John Halligan TD, have announced a joint initiative of Science Foundation Ireland and Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft to create a Fraunhofer Project Centre (FPC) for Embedded BioAnalytical Systems at Dublin City University (DCU) in partnership with the renowned Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology IPT in Aachen, Germany.
Announcing the investment, Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor said: “I am delighted to announce the first Fraunhofer Project Centre to be established in Ireland, which will have a strong focus on developing industry partnerships. By investing in this important initiative and world-class researchers, we are generating new knowledge ready for commercialisation, driving intellectual property development and creating a global competitive advantage for Ireland.”
Commenting on the awards, Minister John Halligan, said: “Today’s announcement of this investment and partnership with the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, the leading organisation for applied research in Europe, demonstrates our commitment to supporting the best in emerging scientific talent in Ireland.”
The Fraunhofer Project Centre, which is due to officially launch officially in May this year, will focus on contract and collaborative research as well as technology development projects addressing cost-efficient design, development and manufacture of microfluidic “lab-on-a-chip” technologies. Funded by the Science Foundation Ireland, with €2.5 million to be invested in DCU, while an additional €2.5 million will be provided by Fraunhofer to support the partnership over a period of five years. .
These systems will enable immediate “point-of-use” testing of samples such as blood or water for a wide range of applications, including personal healthcare, pharmaceutical production, life-science research, quality testing in agrifood and environmental monitoring.
Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland, said: “This significant decision represents a recognition by the prestigious Fraunhofer organisation of the high quality research base that has been created in Ireland. The partnership will provide access for Irish academia and industry to the Fraunhofer network of institutes, as well as directly supporting twelve research positions at DCU. The Fraunhofer Project Centre particularly builds on research and expertise in innovative diagnostics device research, which have been supported by a decade of funding of the DCU Biomedical Diagnostics Institute by Science Foundation Ireland. Science Foundation Ireland is delighted to partner with Fraunhofer to enable the next exciting phase of these innovative devices.”
Professor Jens Ducrée, designated Director of the new FPC said: “This Fraunhofer Project Centre at Dublin City University is geared to provide modern lab-on-a-chip technologies for translating 21st century breakthroughs in medical research and the life sciences into reality for the direct benefit of people’s health and lives.”
For the Fraunhofer IPT, co-operation with the FPC at DCU will extend its international reach and provide access to DCU’s highly recognised techno-scientific expertise, infrastructure and equipment, as well as its many academic and industrial collaborators within Irish-based life science activities and their close links with the UK and North America. Combined with the Fraunhofer IPT’s capability for scale-up from prototyping to mass production, the partnership will provide “fit-for-industry” solutions, which are vital in supporting innovation and driving national economic success.
Professor Fritz Klocke, Executive Director of the Fraunhofer IPT, said: ”The Fraunhofer IPT has the expertise and excellent equipment for the production of microfluidic systems. The partnership with the colleagues in Dublin creates a significant added value for us because this synergy not only contributes to the extension of our design competencies but also allows us to establish a centre with distinctly unique features.”
Professor Brian MacCraith, President of DCU, welcomed the announcement saying: “This exciting partnership with the renowned Fraunhofer IPT will amplify the transformative impact of DCU’s expertise in the application of microfluidics to the life sciences. Impact and transformation, both societal and economic, are central to our research vision and the mutual benefits of this new collaboration will deliver impact that transcends geographical boundaries.”