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News & Events

Ministers Bruton and English announce €28 Million Science Foundation Ireland Investment in Research Equipment and Facilities

Investment by the Dept of Jobs through Science Foundation Ireland Supports Ireland’s Expanding Collaborations and Partnerships with Industry and Academia Internationally

  • Research Infrastructure for 21 Projects Supports Progression of Exemplary Irish Science in areas including Manufacturing, Big Data, Wireless Technology & Networks, Natural Resources & Hazards, Internet of Things, Marine Renewable Energy and Animal & Human Health

  • Ministers Bruton and English Announce Further Commitment to Irish Science & Innovation through Science Foundation Ireland Infrastructure Awards, supporting the Government’s Action Plan for Jobs and its recently announced Science Strategy, Innovation 2020    

The Minister for Jobs, Richard Bruton, TD together with the Minister for Research, Innovation and Skills, Damien English, TD today (Tuesday) announced details of a €28 million investment in research equipment and facilities through Science Foundation Ireland. A total of 21 exemplary research projects will be supported in sectors including applied geo-sciences, pharmaceutical manufacturing, bio-banking, marine renewable energy, internet of things, astronomy, big data and additive manufacturing using nano-materials. 

This infrastructure funding was awarded competitively following rigorous international review to research groups where the research equipment and facilities are required to address major research opportunities and challenges; including partnerships with industry and /or international funders. This new infrastructure will ensure that Irish researchers continue to be internationally competitive, with access to modern equipment and facilities which will enable them to be successful in securing future funding from leading companies and Europe, including Horizon 2020. 

This investment is made by the Department of Jobs through Science Foundation Ireland.  The 21 infrastructure projects funded were in a range of strategically important sectors as follows: 

Animal & Human Health: Human motion analysis system to facilitate the development of personal sensing connected health technologies for patients and athletes; an early life lab to monitor how the brain grows, develops and repairs in young children; a biobank of 4 million samples to facilitate the discovery and development of new treatments in personalised medicine and nutrition to improve outcomes for mothers and babies; a human performance sensing suite to discover and develop new therapeutic strategies for metabolic and neuromuscular disease; animal and pathogen genomics analysis system to support emergent agri-food research areas such as next generation biomarkers, multiplex diagnostics, and genomic selection breeding programmes; 

Big Data Analytics, Internet of Things (IoT) and Networks: Low Frequency Array (I-LOFAR) gathering radio images of astronomical objects using advanced image processing and data analytics techniques; a new Ireland-wide wireless network testbed to support new IoT concepts, business models and devices to be developed and tested; a radio testbed for the development and testing of new radio technologies for IoT; a 400+ Gigabit-per-second communications testbed to enable the development of the next generation core network and datacentre technologies; 

Manufacturing: additive manufacturing nanomaterial infrastructure for the development of innovative printable materials such as 3D hip and knee implants; a state-of-the-art advanced analysis facility, allowing real-time direct observation of pharmaceutical process reactions as they occur thus supporting drug manufacturing; a crystallization, isolation and drying technology testbed for pharmaceutical manufacturing; splutter disposition tool capable of growing complex, device-quality stacks of metal and oxide thin films for applications such as integrated photonics; infrastructure to support the packaging and assembly of a wide range of miniaturised photonic devices used in data-communications, sensing and point-of-care medical diagnostics. 

Natural Resources & Hazards: sensing/early-warning system for offshore earthquake and offshore storms, including the quantification of offshore natural resources; electron microscope to determine the microscopic composition of rocks to identify valuable minerals; state of the art X-ray CT scanner to enable the analysis of botanical, geophysical and natural resources; an atmospheric chamber to enable innovative studies on air pollution and climate change. 

Marine: an Open Ocean Emulator to accurately replicate real ocean wave conditions in a laboratory setting to accelerate growth of the offshore renewable energy industry in Ireland; a remotely operated vehicle to enable the deployment, repair and maintenance of wave and tidal energy devices in the challenging off shore conditions.

  Speaking at the announcement in Birr, Co Offaly, Minister Bruton said: “At the heart of our Action Plan for jobs is driving employment growth in every region of the country. We have now put in place individual jobs plans for 7 out of the 8 regions in the country, and what has repeatedly become clear is that research and innovation must be accelerated right across the country if we are to deliver the jobs growth we need. Today’s announcement by Science Foundation Ireland is an important part of this. By investing in world-class R&D infrastructure, both at a regional and national level, this will ensure that we can compete at the highest levels internationally and continue to turn more good ideas into good jobs”.   Commenting on today’s announcements, Minister English said “Today’s investment will advance the implementation of the government’s new science strategy – Innovation 2020. The 21 projects will enable globally compelling research to be undertaken across the country; facilitating greater industry and international collaboration; supporting the training of researchers and demonstrating to an international audience that Ireland on an all island basis, is business friendly and bullish in its pursuit of, and participation in, excellent research.”

  Prof. Mark Ferguson, Director General Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland, added, “Ireland is increasingly becoming the location of choice for multinational companies to develop and test tomorrow’s technologies and this investment demonstrates our commitment and expanded ability to engage, discover and collaborate at all levels.  Science Foundation Ireland is delighted to support and drive Ireland’s science strategy, Innovation 2020, with the addition of key infrastructure to propel important research projects. Ultimately, this is about providing Irish researchers in strategic areas with the tools to be world leading.”

List of SFI Research Infrastructure Awards A total of 21 projects were approved for funding with a total amount of €28.8m.

Sector

Lead Applicant

Research Body/SFI Research Centre

SFI Funding   Approved

Infrastructure Title

Summary

Animal & Human Health

Madeleine Lowery

UCD /INSIGHT

€91,162

Human Performance Monitoring Suite

The Human Performance Sensing Suite will enable   measurement and assessment of human performance data within and outside of   the research laboratory.  It represents the state-of-the-art for   monitoring metabolic, electrophysiological and movement data within the   laboratory, and for monitoring physiological data within the home.  This   will enable new research to better understand metabolic and neuromuscular   diseases, and the development of new therapeutic strategies. It will enable   us to identify new biomarkers for diseases, and to assess the effect of   interventions, such as training, robotics or exercise programmes, supporting   the design of new systems for monitoring health and exercise-based treatments   using wearable-sensors.  

Animal & Human Health

Stephen Gordon

UCD

€239,850

High throughput transcriptomics for animal   disease and zoonoses

The NanoString nCounter system allows the   expression of hundreds of genes across multiple samples to be assessed in   parallel, providing a powerful approach to extend findings from transcriptome   studies to biomarker validation. This platform will support major on-going   projects in the agri-food area funded by SFI, DAFM and EU, and allow   researchers to translate advances in animal and pathogen genomics to emergent   research areas such as next generation biomarkers, multiplex diagnostics, and   genomic selection breeding programmes. As such the NanoString nCounter system   will significantly strengthen Irish veterinary and animal science research.

Animal & Human Health

Louise Kenny

UCC /INFANT

€355,171

INFANT Biobank

The new progressive INFANT Biobank facility   under development will enable improved curation and protection of   precious human biological samples. The facility will enhance INFANT’s   research in biomarker discovery and validation, personalised medicine, and   nutrition to improve outcomes for mothers and babies. In the coming months,   capacity will be expanded by 4 million samples. The biobank will surpass   existing international biobanking guidelines and continue to contribute to   standards development. This will position INFANT, and Ireland, at the forefront   of biobanking internationally. It will increase attractiveness for   multi-institutional international collaborations and be a test-bed for   research and development in perinatal medicine.

Animal & Human Health

Geraldine Boylan

UCC /INFANT

€1,548,236

INFANT Discovery Platform

The INFANT Discovery Platform will combine a next-generation Early Life Lab with an integrated Data   Hub. The Early Life Lab will enable INFANT to learn more about how the brain   grows, develops and repairs itself in young children following early brain   injury. INFANT will assess children at high risk of neurodevelopmental issues   both physiologically and cognitively. The Data Hub will allow this monitoring   to be combined with clinical assessments. It will support   regulatory-compliant storage and curation of data. This work will help   position Ireland as a test-bed for industry R&D in perinatal medicine and   deliver health, social and economic impacts.

Animal & Human Health

Paul Cotter

Teagasc /APC

€242,675

NextSeq DNA sequencing platform

DNA sequencing is now an essential component of   all fields of biological science. As it is not feasible for all research   institutes to purchase/operate a suite of state-of-the-art sequencing   platforms, the international model has been to develop centralised Centres to   provide low cost services to researchers. This provides key competitive   advantages with respect to carrying out high quality research, joint   programming and securing international funding. The further expansion of the   existing APC Microbiome Institute/Teagasc (Moorepark) facility to become a   centralised Irish Sequencing Centre, through purchase of an Illumina NextSeq,   will considerably benefit Irish research institutes and industry.

Animal & Human Health

Kieran Moran

DCU /INSIGHT

€223,910

Indoors and Outdoors Motion Analysis System

Movement is fundamental to life, health and   sport. Understanding how it is controlled is central to many scientific   disciplines: exercise science, clinical gait, musculoskeletal medicine,   sports biomechanics, gerontology, neuroscience, human computer interactions,   and ergonomics. The state-of-the-art motion-analysis system will drive   research in these areas by accurately quantifying movements (<2mm) and the   muscular forces that produce them. It also provides real-time augmented   feedback to help patients/athletes optimise movement effectiveness. Finally,   the system will be used as a gold standard in developing novel low-cost   motion-analysis technologies for use at home and outside the laboratory in   areas of Connected Health and Personal Sensing.

Big Data, IoT and Networks

Peter Gallagher

TCD

€1,397,348

iLOFAR: Connecting Ireland to the International   Low Frequency Array (LOFAR)

The Low Frequency Array (LOFAR) is a €150 million   network of radio telescopes that is being deployed across Europe, with   stations in the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, France, Poland and the UK.   LOFAR is revolutionising our understanding of the Universe, attracting   students into careers in science and technology, and driving innovations in   information and communications technologies. An All-Ireland consortium of   Universities and Institutes of Technologies will build a LOFAR telescope in   Birr Castle in 2016, which will connect Ireland to the World’s largest radio   telescope, open a new frontier in Irish scientific and ICT research, and re-ignite   Ireland’s global reputation for astronomical research at Birr.

Big Data, IoT and Networks

Linda Doyle

TCD /CONNECT

€1,811,778

Pervasive Nation: an Ireland-wide, wireless   network infrastructure to support Open IoT(Internet of Things)

The Internet-of-Things connects everyday objects   to the Internet allowing useful information to be communicated to other   objects, machines or humans. Pervasive Nation is a new, Ireland-wide,   wireless network which will support Internet-of-Things (IoT) research and   innovation. Designed and managed by the CONNECT Centre, Pervasive Nation will   allow new IoT concepts, business models and devices to be developed and   tested. The network will initially be rolled out across ten third-level   campuses, and will eventually cover urban, suburban and rural environments,   making Ireland the first country in the world with full, IoT network   coverage. Pervasive Nation will enable world-leading IoT research, seed   innovation in indigenous enterprises, and help to attract foreign direct   investment by making Ireland the definitive place to test the future.

Big Data, IoT and Networks

Paul Townsend

TNI /IPIC

€1,454,865

400 Gigabit-per-second and Beyond Advanced   Modulation Coherent Communications Testbed

As the Internet continues to grow, the underlying   global optical-fibre-based communication infrastructure is under increasing   strain, requiring more information to be carried on each wavelength channel   by employing advanced data-encoding techniques that pack multiple bits of information   into each data symbol. This world-class testbed - the first of its kind in   any European university - will enable the development and demonstration of   the next generation core network and datacentre technologies that will   underpin the future Internet. Critically, it will enable Irish researchers to   continue to compete in Horizon2020 communications programmes and to attract   collaborations with the world’s leading communication companies.

Big Data, IoT and Networks

Ronan Farrell

NUIM/ CONNECT

€538,808

RadioSpace: An experimental Radio Testbed for 5G   and the Internet of Things

Radiospace will be at the heart of a national   facility for the development and testing of new radio technologies for the   Internet of Things.  Radiospace is a large shielded facility that will   provide Irish universities and companies access to a unique testbed in terms   of size, capabilities and the radio frequencies supported, enabling Irish   companies and universities to develop the next generation of products and   technologies.   As part of the SFI Connect Centre, Radiospace will build   a common space for universities and industry, accelerating the flow of   innovation from universities researchers to prototypes and finally early   stage product development

Manufacturing

Peter O'Brien

TNI /IPIC

€741,700

High Accuracy Photonic Device Flipchip Packaging   and Assembly System

The precision flipchip bonding equipment will   enable the Photonics Packaging Group at the Tyndall Institute to further   enhance its capabilities to develop advanced integrated photonic sub-systems   and prototypes. The equipment will provide the capability to package a wide   range of minaturised photonic devices, such as semiconductor lasers,   photo-detectors, micro-optics and microelectronic devices, with submicron   placement accuracy, under manual and full automatic process control. Such   precision is required when aligning photonic devices to the integrated   optical waveguides which are commonly used in a range of applications,   including data-communications, sensing and point-of-care medical diagnostics.  

Manufacturing

Stefano Sanvito

TCD /AMBER

€3,336,623

Additive Manufacturing Nano-Materials Facility   (3DAMN)

Additive Manufacturing (AM) provides a method to   prototype and customise products quickly and at low cost. AMBER does this   with a range of industry partners. The new infrastructure includes plastic,   metal and ceramic 3D printing, ink-jet printing and polymer processing   equipment. It will allow AMBER researchers to develop innovative 'printable   materials' such as 3D hip and knee implants, energy storage technologies such   as supercapacitors, nanocomposites for medical devices and novel nanosheets   for the ICT sector. This will significantly strengthen the Centre’s ability   to quickly deliver innovative solutions to industry partners and address   issues of global societal and economic importance.

Manufacturing

Anita Maguire

UCC /SSPC

€1,041,394

Process Flow Spectroscopy Facility (ProSpect)

ProSpect is a state-of-the-art advanced analysis   facility, allowing real-time direct observation of pharmaceutical process   reactions as they occur – the first of its kind within the EU. The facility   will consist of a suite of integrated analytical instrumentation including   MRI technology, which will provide unprecedented mechanistic insight into   pharmaceutical reactions, thus leading to safer drugs at reduced cost for   both the manufacturer and the patient. Operating within the SSPC, ProSpect   will offer researchers and the pharmaceutical industry in Ireland a unique   competitive technical advantage, thereby enhancing Ireland’s reputation as a   leading location for state-of-the-art pharmaceutical process chemistry.

Manufacturing

Kieran Hodnett

UL /SSPC

€2,466,420

Crystallisation Isolation and Drying Technology   Test Bed (CIDT2)

Pharmaceutical manufacturing is moving away from   batch and towards continuous methods which offer improved quality and lower   costs. Crystallization, isolation and drying are key steps in the   manufacturing process. The Crystallization, Isolation and Drying   Technology Test-Bed (CIDT2) will establish a state-of-the-art national   research test-bed based on continuous manufacturing methods and enable   researchers to combine all  three separate unit operations for the first   time globally.  National and international academic and industry users   can expect access to a range of equipment options to undertake integrated   research at industrially relevant scales, supported by an in-line process analytics   suite for in-situ process monitoring and control.

Manufacturing

Plamen Stamenov

TCD /AMBER

€3,240,000

Trifolium Dubium – A Flexible Deposition Tool for   Complex Thin-film Stacks of Metallic and Dielectric Materials

Trifolium Dubium will be a sputter-deposition   tool capable of growing complex, device-quality stacks of metal and oxide   thin films with as many as ten different materials with state-of-the art   control over the deposition conditions in a fully automated process. The tool   will be the centrepiece of a unique National Thin-Film Facility at TCD,   serving academia and industry across Ireland. The development will focus on a   great range of novel materials that can be patterned into functional   nanoscale devices for basic and applied research in areas such as spintronics   and integrated photonics. Trifolium Dublium will enable physicists, chemists   and material scientists to compete internationally for research and   technology funding, partnering productively with the IT and Energy sectors in   the Country.

Marine

Daniel Toal

UL /MAREI

€1,955,742

Marine Renewable Energy Remote Operation Vehicle    for Challenging (Wave, Tidal, Wind) Conditions

MRE-ROV: Marine Renewable Energy Remotely   Operated Vehicle.    There is significant RnD in MRE across Europe   with a particularly strong commitment in Ireland.  SFI Centre – MaREI is   focused on Ireland taking a pivotal and leading role in the development of   Utility Scale MRE.  The MRE-ROV, an all electric vehicle with advanced   dynamic positioning and control capabilities, is a key piece of support   infrastructure for the development and testing of wave and tidal energy   converters and for research and development of technologies for inspection,   repair and maintenance of MRE infrastructure in the challenging high energy   off shore prevailing conditions at MRE farms.

Marine

Jimmy Murphy

UCC /MARINET

€2,230,860

Open Ocean Emulator for Grid Integrated next   generation Marine Renewable Energy systems

The Open Ocean Emulator (OOE) integrates test   tank developments, state-of-the-art instrumentation and electrical   infrastructure such that to create the most advanced small scale model   testing capability worldwide.  It will complement existing facilities at   Lir-NOTF, UCC and enhance Irelands R&D capacity, particularly at the   MaREI Centre.  The OOE will accurately replicate real ocean wave   conditions in a laboratory setting and in combination with the use of   advanced instrumentation will improve our understanding on how marine   structures, such as wave energy convertors, floating wind turbines and tidal   energy devices, behave.  This advanced testing capability will accelerate   the path from technology design to real-world applications and contribute to   the growth and sustainability of the offshore renewable energy industry in   Ireland.  

Natural Resources & Hazards

Balz Kamber

TCD /iCRAG

€636,161

Geosciences Electron Beam Mineral Analyser -   GeoRise

The GeoRise is a special type of scanning   electron microscope, which geoscientists will use to investigate real-world   sized rocks at sub-microscopic scale. This cutting edge analytical instrument   will have a wide array of detectors that allow the simultaneous determination   of many properties, such as composition, luminescence and atomic arrangement.   The GeoRise also has software that can automatically recognise groups of   minerals within a rock and map their mutual relationships. Most importantly,   the GeoRise can quantify the content of valuable metals in rocks in   unprecedented detail. It will thus be used to develop new approaches to   resource and energy efficiency.

Natural Resources & Hazards

Christopher Bean

DIAS /iCRAG

€2,856,176

Insitu Marine Laboratory for Geosystems Research   (iMARL).

Ireland has an ocean territory ten times larger   than its terrestrial landmass. Geological, oceanographic and biological   processes mutually interact on a daily basis in this vast territory.   Continuously recording offshore sensors are required to monitor this   activity. Here we establish the Insitu Marine Laboratory for   Geosystems Research (iMARL) comprising Ocean Bottom Seismographs (OBSs),   Temperature and Acoustic Recorders. Strapped to sea-bed landers and deployed   on the sea floor this equipment will allow for the detections of offshore   earthquakes and offshore storms, as well as noise in the ocean and   biologically generated  acoustic signals (e.g. from whales). Impacts   include: natural resources quantification, natural hazard estimation,   environmental and baseline climate related insitu ocean monitoring.    A pilot tsunami detection system will also be installed as part of the network.

Natural Resources & Hazards

John Wenger

UCC

€1,067,431

Irish Atmospheric Simulation Chamber (IASC)   Facility

The Irish Atmospheric Simulation Chamber (IASC)   is a new national facility specially designed to support world-leading   research activities in the key strategic areas of atmospheric and materials   science. Based at University College Cork (UCC), the IASC Facility will   consist of a large custom-built chamber equipped with cutting-edge   instrumentation to enable innovative studies on air pollution and climate   change. It will also serve as an advanced testbed for novel atmospheric   monitoring techniques, emerging sensor technologies and depolluting   materials. The facility will promote new research synergies, increase Irish   competitiveness in the European Research Area, while also impacting strongly   on environment, health and the economy in Irish society.

Natural Resources & Hazards

Jennifer McElwain

UCD

€1,308,255

Integrated Plant Phenomics & Future   Experimental Climate Platform

The Integrated Plant Phenomics & Future   Experimental Climate Platform consists of a state-of-the-art X-Ray CT scanner   and six high spec. controlled climate chambers. This unique facility will   facilitate industry-academia collaboration and enable users to visualize and   research three dimensional structures of biological and inert samples that   are usually hidden from the naked eye and conventional microscopy techniques;   from the 3D structure of asphalt road surfaces to improve safety to the 3D   structures of roots and how they interact with soils to improve future crop   performance in a rapidly changing global climate.

ENDS 

For further information contact:

Science Foundation Ireland

Niamh Bradley or Alva O’Cleirigh

01-6073228/086-0271744 or 01 607 3249/087-9152553

Niamh.bradley@sfi.ie or Alva.ocleirigh@sfi.ie 

Notes to editor

About Science Foundation Ireland

Science Foundation Ireland funds oriented basic and applied research in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) which promotes and assists the development and competitiveness of industry, enterprise and employment in Ireland. The Foundation also promotes and supports the study of, education in and engagement with, STEM and promotes an awareness and understanding of the value of STEM to society and in particular to the growth of the economy. For more information visit www.sfi.ie.