Pictured at the Materials and Surface Science Institute at UL (MSSI) are Dr. Trevor Young Senior Lecturer, Professor Brian Fitzgerald, Vice President Research and Professor Don Barry, UL President. MSSI is set to undergo a major expansion as a result of today's PRTLI funding allocation of €12million to the University of Limerick.
Major Research Funding of over €12million Secured by University of Limerick
UL also a key University Partner in structured PhD programmes worth €15.8million
UL-NUI Galway Alliance Receives Support for Joint Structured PhD Initiative
The University of Limerick has welcomed today's announcement by An Taoiseach Brian Cowen TD, and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation, Batt O'Keeffe TD, of over €12million in research funding for a major new research centre at UL as well as significant support for advanced UL research programmes under the Programme for Research in Third Level Institutions (PRTLI) Cycle V.
The primary PRTLI funding awarded to UL will go towards the expansion of the University's sector-leading Materials and Surface Science Institute (MSSI) for the establishment of a National Centre for Applied Materials Research at UL. This will develop new materials and methods in the strategically important areas of pharmaceutical and composite materials and will significantly enhance UL's materials research capabilities in biomaterials, materials for energy conversion and biocatalysis. The new Centre will assist in the provision of incentives to multinational companies to locate research and development capacity in Ireland by creating the research infrastructure to allow these industries to embed their research and development activities here. MSSI at UL which is now set to expand, was established in 1998 and is comprised of 228 researchers who are continually producing industry-focused research leading to real change in a wide range of industries nationally and internationally.
Speaking at the announcement in Dublin today Professor Don Barry, President of UL said "the commitment of the Minister, the Department of Enterprise, Trade & Innovation, Science Foundation Ireland and the Government to support Fourth Level research in Irish universities has already yielded significant progress in areas of strategic national importance. This funding will strengthen the potential of our researchers to develop intellectual property that can be commercialised to generate high value jobs which will assist in the economic recovery of the country. The University has a strong track record in technology development and commercialisation, in addition to having an international reputation for collaborating successfully with industry partners, leading to world-class research in fields such as biomaterials, renewable energy and software development. This additional Government support, together with our new Industrial Enterprise Centre which is due for completion early next year, will further sharpen our focus at UL on innovation and technology commercialisation for economic growth and development as part of the Government's Smart Economy initiative."
Professor Barry also welcomed the Government's continuing commitment to supporting research and innovation in Irish universities in general and the support provided for a joint project with NUI Galway as part of the recently-established Strategic Alliance between UL and NUI Galway. "This vote of confidence by the Government in university-led research is particularly significant in the challenging economic context and underpins the benefits that we can deliver to aid our economic recovery. I also welcome the Government's endorsement of the UL-NUI Galway Strategic Alliance in the form of €2.7 million support for a structured PhD programme that will help develop research leadership in the vital fields of Biomedical Engineering and Regenerative Medicine."
UL and partner Universities will share €15.8 million to deliver three structured PhD programmes. UL's Strategic Alliance with NUI Galway has been recognised through the joint awarding of €2.7million for a structured PhD programme in Biomedical Engineering and Regenerative Medicine. UL is also partnering with NUI Galway as well as TCD and UCC to deliver Earth Systems Institute Structured PhDs in Earth and Natural Sciences which has been awarded €9.6million. €3.4million has also been awarded to UL, NUI Galway, UCC, DIT, Cork IT and DCU to establish a national graduate education programme in nanoscience and nanotechnology.
"The University of Limerick is highly regarded for conducting leading-edge research in key areas such as Materials Science, Software Engineering and the Bio-Sciences, with research income having increased by 85% in the last five years and the number of UL PhD research graduates having more than doubled during this period" said Professor Brian Fitzgerald, Vice President Research at UL. "The University has also recently seen the establishment of a significant number of very successful spin-out companies, the most recent being Stokes Bio Ltd, which was bought by the leading multinational Life Technologies for , in what was one of the largest University spin-out acquisitions in the history of the State. In total, six commercially active UL campus companies have been set up in recent years, attracting in excess of €30 million in investment funding. These companies employ over 80 people locally at graduate and PhD level."
As part of its commitment to creating a comprehensive and successful research eco-system the University of Limerick Foundation in collaboration with Bank of Ireland and Enterprise Ireland has partnered with one of Ireland's largest venture capital funds, Kernel Capital, to establish a €26m joint venture fund that will support Irish universities in leveraging commercial success from their research ideas and intellectual property. The €26m Bank of Ireland Seed and Early Stage Equity Fund is being invested in start-up and early stage companies, with a focus on high potential university spin-offs and export-orientated, start-up companies that operate in the technology (including green technology), food and financial services sectors.
The University of Limerick is also continuing to strengthen its links with industry leaders with yesterday's announcement that it is set to host the Irish Technology Leadership Group (ITLG) Silicon Valley Comes To Ireland event in conjunction with Alliance partner NUI Galway, in November this year. This will bring prominent figures from the innovation, business and venture capital communities in Silicon Valley to the region for a review of potential investment opportunities, under the chairmanship of former Intel CEO and Chairman Dr Craig Barrett.
The Programme for Research in Third-Level Institutions was launched in 1998 following the success of a pilot programme in science and technology. The programme provides integrated financial support for institutional strategies, programmes and infrastructure and ensures that institutions have the capacity and incentives to formulate and implement research strategies, which will give them critical mass and world level capacity in key areas of research.