WIT partner to one of SFI research centres in €230m funding announcement

Science
Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys TD, and Minister of State for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development, John Halligan TD, announced an investment of €230 million in six SFI Research Centres as part of Project Ireland 2040.

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys TD, and Minister of State for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development, John Halligan TD, announced an investment of €230 million in six SFI Research Centres as part of Project Ireland 2040.

WIT is a partner in SSPC one of the six Science Foundation Ireland research centres, to share €230 million funding which will support researchers

WIT is to benefit from significant Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) funding announced on 9 May 2019 in the Mansion House in Dublin.

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys TD, and Minister of State for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development, John Halligan TD, announced an investment of €230 million in six SFI Research Centres as part of Project Ireland 2040.

Net generation drug manufacture

WIT is a partner in SSPC one of the six Science Foundation Ireland research centres, to share €230 million funding which will support researchers. The Synthesis and Solid State Pharmaceutical Centre (SSPC) is a Global Hub of Pharmaceutical Process Innovation and Advanced Manufacturing. The centre brings together experts from industry and from the third level sector including UL, UCC, NUIG, UCD, DCU, TCD, RCSI and WIT. Research at SSPC leads the way for next generation drug manufacture and spans the entire pharmaceutical production chain from synthesis of the molecule, to the isolation of the material, and the formulation of the medicine.

Led by University of Limerick SSPC comprises a critical mass of accomplished researchers and an infrastructure that are second-to-none from a global perspective.

The centre will create impact for Ireland in the pharmaceutical sector by creating economic growth through spin-out companies and patent licences with innovative pharmaceutical companies, enabling next generation medicines to reach the market more quickly, and providing highly qualified scientists and engineers to support and grow the Irish pharmaceutical sector.

Significance of funding

Dr Peter McLoughlin, Head of the School of Science and Computing at WIT and one of the funded investigators in the centre outlined why this funding is so important. “The Pharmaceutical and Molecular Biotechnology Research Centre (PMBRC) at WIT has a 20 year track record of research into the development, and delivery of medicines. The funding of the SSPC by SFI will enable three researchers at the PMBRC, Dr Niall O’Reilly, Dr Joe O’Mahony and myself to carry out research into new drug delivery platforms as well as novel technologies to enhance pharmaceutical efficacy”.

The €230 million investment made by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation through Science Foundation Ireland, will directly benefit approximately 850 researchers employed by the centres, while also supporting the Government’s Future Jobs Ireland initiative. The investment is buoyed by industry support with 170 industry partners committing to investing over €230 million in cash and in-kind contributions over the next six years, bringing the total investment to €460m.

Commenting on the announcement, Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys TD, said: “This investment by my Department in the six SFI Research Centres is part of the Government’s strategy to prepare now for tomorrow’s world, through plans like Future Jobs Ireland and Project Ireland 2040. The work that has been done to date has positioned Ireland as a world leader in research, further strengthening our global credibility across a number of different sectors. The economic impact of this research is clear, not only through direct and in-direct employment levels, but also through increased foreign direct investment. Our Research Centres not only act as magnets to attract and retain investment; they also encourage companies, both Irish and foreign-owned, to develop their R&D activities here. This will continue to benefit Ireland and the world for years to come.”

Huge draw for high quality jobs

Minister of State for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development, John Halligan TD, said: “This is an extremely positive announcement, SFI Research Centres are a huge draw for high quality sustainable jobs both directly and indirectly. They are agents of change, providing new ways of thinking and offering alternative solutions to issues and challenges that we face in many sectors. This is one of the positive examples of Project Ireland 2040 which has been rolled out to ensure that, as a nation, we are prepared for the changes and disruption that we face going forward. With the current strong economic outlook, it is important that we look to the future and our investments in excellent research allow us to do exactly that.”

The 170 industry collaborators include both multinational companies and SMEs based in Ireland and international. They include companies such as AuriGen Medical, Raydiant Oximetry Inc., DePuy Ireland, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Intel, Nokia Bell Labs, DuPont, Nutricia, Danone, Janssen, Abbvie, Cremo, Alimentary Health, DSM, Kerry, Pepsico, Tate & Lyle, Integra LifeSciences, ESB, Gas Networks Ireland, Brookfield Renewables, DP Energy, and OceanEnergy. 

Under the new funding model, these six SFI Research Centres are successfully scaling up to secure 66% of the funding from other sources, so only 34% of their funding over the six years will now come from Science Foundation Ireland.

The SFI Research Centres network involves strong collaborative partnerships between research bodies in Ireland, including Trinity College Dublin, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, University College Cork, Teagasc, Cork Institute of Technology, University College Dublin, National Institute for Bioprocessing Research and Training (NIBRT), NUI Galway, Dublin City University, Tyndall National Institute, Maynooth University, University of Limerick, Technological University of Dublin, ESRI, Dundalk Institute of Technology, Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, Athlone Institute of Technology, Limerick Institute of Technology, Institute of Technology Sligo, Institute of Technology Tralee, and Waterford Institute of Technology.

Academic and industrial collaboration

Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland, said: “SFI Research Centres support both basic and applied research, which I believe is one of the reasons they have been so successful to date. The research across the centres spans a wide range of sectors at varying levels and stages – the holistic approach we are taking to our research is fundamental to its success. In only a very short period the SFI Research Centres have made incredible progress, in terms of increased academic and industrial collaboration, training PhD students for industry, winning competitive funding from the EU, producing excellent scientific results and public engagement. We look forward to continued support from the Government and industry as we move forward, increasing our ability to positively impact both society and the economy through excellent scientific research.”

Awards of funding to SFI Research Centres are made following rigorous international expert peer reviews. For more information visit SFI Research Centres.

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