WIT ‘technology gateways’ awarded share of fund for innovative technologies

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Pictured are representatives of WIT's three Tech Gateways. From left: Frances Cleary, MEPS Research Unit Manager at TSSG; SEAM Centre Director and Technology Gateway Manager Dr Ramesh Raghavendra; Jerry Horgan, infrastructure manager, TSSG; PMBRC Manager Dr Niall O’Reilly. Photo: George Goulding

Pictured are representatives of WIT's three Tech Gateways. From left: Frances Cleary, MEPS Research Unit Manager at TSSG; SEAM Centre Director and Technology Gateway Manager Dr Ramesh Raghavendra; Jerry Horgan, infrastructure manager, TSSG; PMBRC Manager Dr Niall O’Reilly. Photo: George Goulding

WIT’s three technology gateways TSSG, SEAM and PMBRC to purchase innovative technologies and infrastructure through Capital Equipment Fund

Three research centres at Waterford Institute of Technology which are also Enterprise Ireland Technology Gateway Centres – SEAM, TSSG, and PMBRC – have been awarded a share of the €6m Capital Equipment Fund administered by Enterprise Ireland through the Technology Gateway Network Programme.

There were 43 successful applicants from the Institutes of Technology (IoT) and TU Dublin. All three of WIT’s three technology gateways were approved for funding.

SEAM (South Eastern Applied Materials) was awarded funding for a Material Analysis Suite. TSSG will receive funding for a Mixed Reality Innovation Lab (which includes Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality). PMBRC’s application for an X-ray Diffractometer was also successful.

Welcoming the announcement WIT President, Prof Willie Donnelly said: “Research and innovation at WIT plays a pivotal role in ensuring that industry in the south east are at the cutting edge of knowledge. The three Technology Gateways are central to the translation of that research into products and services for the regional industry. This award recognises that role and will ensure that the gateways extend the scope and impact of its engagement with their regional industry partners. This will drive further high technology employment in the region.”

SEAM

SEAM was awarded funding for a Material Analysis Suite. This funding will help procure a suite of equipment comprising (i) an electromechanical static, dynamic and torsion testing machine (ii) A spark emission optical emission spectrometer (OES) for accurate quantitative compositional analysis of metal components  and (iii) a thermogravimetric analyser (TGA) for thermal degradation evaluation of polymer components and oxidation effects of metallic components.

SEAM Centre Director and Technology Gateway Manager Dr Ramesh Raghavendra said: “SEAM is delighted to secure this funding to procure diverse range of equipment as they will greatly broaden SEAM’s capabilities and service offering to industries of wide ranging sectors. Furthermore, this suite of equipment will assist SEAM’s vision of servicing more than 250 industries over the next couple of years, while growing the capabilities we offer through advanced research and continuous upgrading of our equipment infrastructure.”

PMBRC

PMBRC has been awarded funding for an X-ray Diffractometer. Different crystalline forms (polymorphs, hydrates and solvates) as well as non-crystalline amorphous forms can exhibit different solubility, surface energy, bioavailability, moisture sorption and rheometry properties. X-ray diffraction is considered the “gold standard” technique for evaluating crystallinity as well as polymorph detection and identification.

PMBRC Manager Dr Niall O’Reilly said: “Over the last decade we have built up significant expertise in the solid state characterisation of materials used in the pharmaceutical, medical device, food and engineering industries. X-ray diffraction is a key piece of equipment for the detection of crystallinity and crystal forms which can have a significant impact on product quality. This infrastructure award from Enterprise Ireland will greatly enhance our research capability and offering to our industry partners.”

TSSG

TSSG will receive funding for a Mixed Reality Innovation Lab. The mixed reality domain is a very visual technology and needs to be experienced by clients and interested stakeholders in order to fully understand and appreciate the potential it can bring to a company. These real experiences from the mixed reality innovation lab will provide the opportunity to progress to the next steps of project planning sooner therefore enabling the company to plan for a market impact at an earlier date, increasing their chances of success of getting to the market in order to generate revenue. The Mixed Reality Innovation Lab (MRIL) will be spread over multiple dedicated lab facilities and shared areas within the building. It will also include a portable element that can be brought to events or industry premises.

The MRIL composes of four key components:

  • A dedicated multi-user Virtual Reality (VR) environment using the latest in backpack driven VR, but also incorporating server (remote / centralised) VR processing capabilities coupled with wireless headsets for an untethered experience.
  • A dedicated multi-user Augmented Reality (AR) environment with high-fidelity, full environment scanning (360o video capture, live performance capture, and acoustic capture), and visualisation capabilities.
  • Human centric monitoring to study the personal impact of the AR and VR environments and in turn altering those environments in tune with the human. This includes a high-precision EEG headset, haptic devices for physiological sensing, and eye tracking equipment.
  • Portable and mobile equipment that can extend the AR and VR environments beyond their dedicated lab spaces and push the current boundaries into a) multi-room (buildings) and very large spaces, and b) outdoor spaces; using a mix of traditional sensors, body sensors, visual odometry, 3d scanning (drone based), and kinematic tracking.   

Kevin Doolin, Director of Innovation at TSSG said: “TSSG have been working in the Mixed Reality domain for a number of years and this funding win will enable us to advance our research capabilities to showcase and enhance our developed applications and to support the visualisation and demonstration aspects of this technology to our industry partners. We are thrilled with this Capital Equipment Fund win as we grow our Mixed Reality research in multiple sectors such as Health, Education and Pharma.”

About Technology Gateway Network Programme

The Technology Gateway Network Programme funds interactions between local and national industry and the Institutes of Technology and aims to increase the levels of interaction between the IoTs and industry in Ireland. The intended outcomes of the Programme include; more companies engaging in R&D, pilot manufacturing capability for new product/process development, enhanced technology validation and testing capabilities, testbed generation and enhanced training potential for key industry staff on emerging technologies. The €6 million fund will assist in buying capital that relates to new technologies such as augmented and virtual reality.

The winners were selected through a rigorous evaluation process based on eligibility criteria for the call which included, but was not limited to, a strong track record of industry engagement, a significant industrial need for the new equipment, and space to service and maintain the equipment according to international standards.

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys TD announced the successful applicants. She said: “The successful applicants announced today are housing research projects and initiatives that are at the cutting edge of innovation and I am confident that they have the potential to make a real and lasting impact on enterprise development at both a regional and national level.”

She added, “Through Future Jobs Ireland, our whole-of-Government framework to prepare for the future economy, we want Ireland to become a leader in technology adoption. This Capital Equipment Fund will support Institutes of Technology and TU Dublin in buying equipment relating to new technologies and is another step towards realising this ambition.”

Future Jobs Ireland outlines longer-term ambitions for the future of the economy out until 2025 taking account of the challenges ahead. Each year, Future Jobs Ireland will set out the steps to deliver on the ambitions with the ultimate goal of increasing the resilience of our economy and future-proofing it.

Speaking about the announcement Mark Whelan, Technology Gateway Programme Manager at Enterprise Ireland said “This funding allows our Technology Gateway the opportunity to purchase new technologies in areas such as augmented and virtual reality, mobile robotics and moulding. Successful applicants have a proven track record in industry engagement and the new equipment will assist in increasing their interaction with industry and add value to the SME sector in Ireland.”


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