23 July 2021
By Elaine Murphy
Shannon Applied Biotechnology Centre (Shannon ABC), the Centre for Advanced Photonics & Process Analysis (CAPPA) and The Nimbus Centre at Munster Technological University (MTU) have been jointly awarded €1.25 million for new equipment through the Enterprise Ireland Capital Equipment Fund. The Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar TD, announced a total of 29 successful projects of the Capital Equipment Fund administered by Enterprise Ireland through the Technology Gateway and Technology Centre Programmes.
At the announcement of the €6m fund, the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar TD said, “Great things happen when companies collaborate with third level institutions. Recent data shows that companies which collaborate with our universities have double the turnover of those that do not. Third level institutions benefit too, by getting to work with creative, business-minded entrepreneurs, working on solutions to real life problems. Congratulations to all the successful applicants, I look forward to seeing the fruits of this collaborative effort.”
The Nimbus Centre at MTU received €250,000 for a mobile Cyber Range which will allow the simulation of cybersecurity attacks and user activities, testing the resilience of IT networks for business and industry clients and training their cybersecurity personnel. In the context of the rapid expansion of Industry 4.0 across all industry sectors, the mobile element of the Cyber Range will give Nimbus Research centre critical extra capability, unique in Ireland, to offer on-site cybersecurity testing for Operational Technology (OT) and Internet of Things (IoT) networks deployed on physical assets such as monitoring and control systems in the manufacturing and process industries.
The types of cybersecurity services that Nimbus and MTU will be able to provide with the mobile cyber range include Test before Invest, Security Assessment by providing vulnerability assessments of new pieces of equipment on a factory floor, operational tests and validation services allowing SMEs to simulate cybersecurity attacks, and training and education services in collaboration with the MTU led Cyber Skills project which aims to address the critical shortage of cybersecurity professionals nationally.
The CAPPA Research Centre at MTU received €300,000 to purchase two new pieces of equipment. These include a benchtop UV Raman and a benchtop nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectrometer. The NMR will enable CAPPA to provide additional capability in the areas of contaminant analysis, raw material purity and identification of unknown materials.
The DUV Raman and fluorescence spectrograph will additionally support strong industrial engagement. Since the advancement of lasers in deep UV is only recent, Raman microscopes had limited available in deep UV and as a result, it is unique in Ireland. The Deep UV system will support SMEs in the bio-pharmaceutical industry to enable cheaper production, faster development, and improved quality of the biologics to gain a competitive edge in a global market. The biopharmaceutical industry currently faces major changes because of increasing competition in the field due to the market entry of biosimilars and increasing costs in research and development (R&D) of new drugs. In addition to supporting the biopharmaceutical industry, the proposed technology will support a wider range of R&D in agriculture, food processing, medical devices, pharmaceutical, medical diagnostics, and health care.
Shannon ABC, a Research Centre and Technology Gateway based in Limerick Institute of Technology (LIT) and Munster Technological University (MTU), secured significant funding of €700,000 through three separate applications. This funding will be used to purchase equipment to help support R&D activities with Irish enterprises.
The equipment to be purchased includes:
Sample Preparation and Extraction Suite (Super-critical fluid extraction, Combinatory Pressurised Liquid – Dispersive Solid Phase Extraction Module, microwave digestor, micro-plate reader). Dr Lena Madden (€250,000)
Environmental Monitoring Suite (Elemental Analyser, Greenhouse Gas analyser) Mr Patrick Quille, Dr Oscar Goni (€250,000)
Photosynthetic growth chambers (upgrades to current chambers, GEN1000-IN incubation chamber (new), GEN2000-SH short-height multi-tiered chamber, PGC-Flex-2 Tier intermediate-scale chamber) Dr Peter Downey, Dr Siobhan Moane (€200,000).
These grant awards bring to €2.5m the amount of funding secured by Shannon ABC for capital equipment in the last three years.
Brid McElliott, VP for Research, Enterprise and External Engagement at MTU said: “MTU are delighted to have secured a significant amount of funding through the EI Capital Call. This achievement provides a great opportunity for our MTU research centres to build on their excellent industry engagement track record. I wish to acknowledge both the vast MTU staff expertise involved and the support of Enterprise Ireland in facilitating the acquisition of this equipment which ensures MTU remains ensures the availability of state-of-the-art technologies and equipment to enable R&D work across industry in the South-West and across Ireland.”
Michael Loftus, VP for External Affairs at MTU said: “These successful equipment applications will significantly enhance our research capabilities and thus enable MTU to provide further support to Industry regionally, nationally and even internationally. Achieving such recognisable results from a national funding call illustrates just how important Munster Technological University is in delivering quality R&D services across Ireland. Thanks to the teams involved in submitting such comprehensive funding applications and to Enterprise Ireland for their support in this area.”