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CÚRAM Awarded €150,000 to Tackle Major Global Health Problems

CÚRAM Awarded €150,000 to Tackle Major Global Health Problems

CÚRAM Investigator Dr. Martin O’Halloran has been awarded a second European Research Council (ERC) grant of €150,000 to support the development of a new medical device for the treatment of hypertension (high blood pressure) that can lead to heart disease and stroke, NUI Galway announced on Tuesday.

The project is a collaboration between Investigators Dr Martin O’Halloran and Dr Conall Dennedy at CÚRAM, the Centre for Research in Medical Devices based at NUI Galway. The Investigators aim to bring the novel medical device towards first-in-man trials within the lifetime of the project.

The widespread presence of hypertension in European countries is currently 28-44%. This amounts to between 200 and 327 million Europeans. Excess production of the hormone aldosterone by the adrenal glands (primary aldosteronism) is the most common endocrine cause and accounts for 8-20% of all hypertension. Current treatment regimens are dissatisfactory and costly, involving either surgery or lifelong drug therapy. Therefore, a cost-effective, minimally invasive and definitive management approach for this underlying cause would present a potential cure for an often undiagnosed and unmanaged disease. This is what is being proposed with the new ERC ‘REALTA’ project.

“The REALTA project plan is very similar to that of a start-up medtech company, where as well as technology development, the team will also examine the competitive landscape, the clinical and regulatory pathway, and reimbursement opportunities”, O’Halloran said. “The overarching goal is to gather sufficient technical, clinical, regulatory and commercial evidence over the course of the next 18 months to be able to spin-out a company that is attractive to external investors. Such investment will be required to take the technology through to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval and clinical trials.”

Dr O’Halloran secured his first ERC Starting Grant in 2015 to examine the electrical properties of human tissue, as a platform for novel medical device development in Europe. Supported by a Science Foundation Ireland ERC Support Grant, he established the Translational Medical Device Lab in Galway, the first medical device lab in Ireland to be embedded in a regional hospital, University Hospital Galway, and co-located within the Health Research Board’s Clinical Research Facility. Working closely with Dr Conall Dennedy, Consultant Endocrinologist at NUI Galway, he began to examine the potential of new technologies to treat primary aldosteronism, the most common endocrine cause of hypertension.

Professor Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director of CÚRAM said: “The objectives of CÚRAM are to carry out research on the development of innovative ‘smart’ implantable medical devices, which will benefit patients with chronic ailments such as cardiovascular diseases. I would like to congratulate Dr O’Halloran and Dr Dennedy on their continued research success, which is supported by the excellent multidisciplinary team of clinicians, translational scientists and engineers here at CÚRAM and NUI Galway, which reflects the interests and expertise of investigators in CÚRAM.”

Read the NUI Galway announcement here.

Posted in Healthcare, Medical Research, News, R&D Investment, University Investment0 Comments

What Needs to Change in Ireland if we Want to be a Real Global Leader in R&D

What Needs to Change in Ireland if we Want to be a Real Global Leader in R&D

Post written by Ian Collins, Partner at EY Ireland. Previously published on Fora.ie

The burden for small firms investing in research should be lifted.

Ireland’s tax regime already ranks among the best in class internationally and allows companies to claim significant cash refunds for their research efforts – in turn facilitating the creation of jobs and ultimately driving the economy.

The resulting cash benefits through this tax relief enables companies to increase their cash flows – something which is essential, in particular, for SMEs – and thus invest further in more research and development (R&D).

From the perspective of global multinationals operating in Ireland, the regime provides incentives for companies to bring their R&D activities here.

However, while the uptake of the R&D tax credit has grown significantly in the past decade, Ireland is still falling behind other developed countries in terms of the amount spent relative to the size of the economy – currently ranking 12th within the EU.

In tandem with this, there are likely big changes on the horizon such as Brexit, possible US tax reform and competition increasing within the EU.

It is imperative, therefore, that more must be done to ensure Ireland can continue to compete on the global R&D stage in order to become a world leader and a major hub for scientific and engineering research.

Steps to make Ireland an R&D hub

One of the key areas that must be examined is human capital. This means creating an environment where the very best, home-grown talent has incentives to stay in Ireland and move into areas of innovation and R&D, while foreign talent is also attracted to move here.

For Irish workers, this can be done by fostering the uptake of STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects in schools and universities so that we develop a pipeline of R&D talent.

Meanwhile, for experienced hires and senior executives both here in Ireland and those considering moving here, our domestic income tax rates are still far too high when compared to our European competitors.

We therefore need to put in place incentives and reliefs so that we can compete as a top destination for the best talent within Europe – in particular during a time when the employment market is becoming more and more mobile.

In addition to focusing on the area of human capital, Ireland must give companies further incentives to invest in R&D so that we can climb our way up the EU investment rankings.

To move this dial, there are a number of steps that could be considered:

Foster greater collaboration between industry and academia – At the moment, the cap on R&D relief for subcontracting to universities sits at 5%, compared to 15% for third parties subcontracted to carry on R&D on a company’s behalf.

A change to equalise this cap would avoid apparent discrimination and also help to drive the government’s commitment to create greater linkages between businesses and third-level institutions.

Lessening the burden on small companies – For SMEs, any delay in the issuing of R&D refunds by the Revenue can have a detrimental impact on their ability to trade.

Therefore, it would be a welcome development for SMEs to be given the opportunity to avail of their cash refunds immediately, as opposed to the current regime which sees this take place over a three-year period.

This would serve to encourage more small businesses to engage in R&D by easing any concerns they may have on the potential impact of a delayed refund – while, at the same time, creating a cycle whereby they have incentives to inject that cash back into further R&D investment.

In addition to this, there should be a reduced administrative burden placed on SME’s to encourage greater participation.

Encouraging FDI through Ireland’s R&D tax regime – Growing Ireland’s investment in R&D cannot solely rely on spend by Irish indigenous companies, but rather we must actively sell our R&D offering to the international business community to ensure that we are attracting FDI in this space.

As such, aligning the R&D tax credit regime with R&D grant relief offered by the IDA could offer companies availing of these grants greater certainty with respect to their overall cost of doing R&D in Ireland, thus making a compelling business case to house those projects on our island.

An essential contributor

R&D activity is an essential contributor towards the ongoing prosperity of the domestic and global economy. It is therefore essential that we as a country do everything in our power to facilitate increased R&D, both amongst our Irish indigenous companies and through the attraction of FDI.

In doing so, we will be better positioned to compete with our international counterparts who are also vying for their piece of the pie.

Posted in Innovation, R&D Investment0 Comments

The Benefits of R&D Tax Credits and the Knowledge Development Box for the Construction Sector

The Benefits of R&D Tax Credits and the Knowledge Development Box for the Construction Sector

Post provided by Mazars.

From building technologies and enhanced decision-making systems, the advances in both digital technology and connectivity with established engineering systems and principles has created the much needed drive for innovation in the construction sector. Given recent opportunities and prior reflections, owners and practitioners alike should seek efficient projects, lower costs, advance materials and integrated intelligent building management systems.

In September 2015, the Government published its new Infrastructure and Capital Investment Plan which presents the Government’s new €42 billion framework for infrastructure investment in Ireland. The Capital Plan combines direct investment by the Exchequer of €27 billion, a third phase of PPP investments of about €500 million and State-owned sector investment of around €14½ billion. In total, this State-backed investment package represents over 3½ percent of GNP each year between 2016 and 2021, and it will support more than 45,000 construction-related jobs [1]. In light of this, the output of the Irish construction sector in 2015 was estimated to be €12.5 billion which represented an increase of 14% over the previous year. According to the team at BruceShaw [2], they expect that the recovery in the industry to accelerate in 2016 and are predicting an output level of just over €15 billion, representing an annual increase of 21%. However, they also go on to state, while such a recovery is to be welcomed it is worth remembering that at €15 billion the industry output will still only be at approximately 40% of the 2007 peak output of over €38 billion. This level of output was unsustainably high but the current level which represents 7.6% of GNP is still well below the recognised European sustainable level of 10% to 12% [2]. So how does the sector reach these sustainable levels? One strategy is through smart R&D Tax planning.

Construction is perceived as a traditional and well-proven sector, and because of this, there is a tendency for R&D to be overlooked as a means of tax reduction. It is not difficult to conceive why traditional misconceptions about R&D Tax credits exist, many believe that only that multinational companies can benefit from these credits. However, the reality is that many industries, including the construction industry, conduct activities that may qualify to claim the benefits of the R&D credit (25% on qualifying expenditure).  It’s important to know that R&D does not just apply to inventions, but rather encompasses the design, development or improvement of products, processes, techniques, formulas or software.  Within the construction industry, if a company is financing activities to develop or improve energy efficiency, mechanical systems, process design, pilot plants, construction techniques or other products, processes or software, then it’s likely performing activities that qualify for research and development (R&D) tax credits [3].

Many in the construction sector may not think that they perform R&D in the perceived sense and consequently don’t appreciate the extent to which their expenditure might qualify. It is for this reason there is a low uptake of R&D tax credits in the sector. The CSO/Forfás survey on Business Expenditure on R&D (BERD) contains indicators relating to R&D personnel and expenditure across all sectors of the economy. Construction activities are included within a broader utilities group, and it is evident from the survey results for 2009/10 that BERD in this grouping is negligible compared to other manufacturing and services sectors. As regards total headcount of all R&D staff, the construction and utilities group comprises 61 out of the 15,773 across all sectors, and accounts for only €4.6 million out of a total of €1.9 billion expended by all sectors on R&D [4]. Similar trends can also be found in the UK, where, of the 18,965 R&D tax credit claims made in 2013-2014, only 380 (2%) were from construction businesses. This supports the fact that the construction industry is not claiming the tax credits available to them, largely due to the fact that this sector does not believe it is eligible for this relief [5].   Perhaps there is little surprise in the BERD figures and limited R&D engagement between the industry and HEIs in Ireland. The construction sector globally has traditionally been slow to innovate. In recent years however this image has changed somewhat, driven by advances in information technology that have transformed project delivery, and the application of new technology and materials to meet progressively higher environmental standards. Innovation has a central role to play in how the Irish construction sector positions itself for recovery and sustainable future growth both domestically and internationally [4]. A number of Irish building products manufacturers have proven their innovative capabilities in the application of new materials technologies, with some achieving widespread international prominence. Now owners are increasingly realising value as construction firms pre-fabricate building elements off-site. Instead of sequentially constructing facilities, contractors are starting to deliver multiple project elements at the same time to streamline schedules. With some of the most technical work performed off-site, in a more controlled environment, safety is improved, too. Combining pre-fabrication with 3D BIM, project teams avoid potential conflicts regarding the use of building space. And owners see a safer, faster, less expensive project [6]. Some of the most exciting technological advances are having a transformative effect within the construction sector. The surge in demand for greener construction projects in particular is a key force in driving innovation in the production and re-engineering of building materials and their deployment [4].

The Construction sector operates in a unique and competitive environment with a complex regulatory landscape. To help offset that cost for companies in the construction industry and help them remain competitive the R&D credit may allow some contractors to bid on technically challenging projects more competitively, knowing they’ll be able to recoup some upfront research costs on the back end.

R&D tax credit provides a provision for a tax credit for certain expenditure on R&D activities, plant and machinery and buildings. Salaries paid to employees who conduct qualified activities are generally the largest component of qualifying R&D expenses. The money paid to the staff performing the qualified R&D activities as well as project managers and personnel who directly support the R&D can qualify. The goal of the R&D tax credit is to encourage R&D investment by indigenous and foreign owned firms alike by rewarding qualified research. To help offset the R&D cost to companies and to promote innovation and competitiveness, the R&D tax credit and the recent Knowledge Development Box (KDB) are valuable tax resources which encourage companies to create new and improve existing products and processes and intellectual capital in Ireland. The incentive provides a 25% cash refundable tax credit on the qualifying R&D expenditure or it can be used to reduce the company’s cooperated tax bill. In relation to the KDB, profits arising from patents, copyrighted software or IP equivalent to a patentable invention are taxed at 6.25% rather than the headline rate of 12.5%.

This tax mechanism offsets against tax liability because the credits can help companies increase their cash flow and earnings per share, reduce their effective tax rate, hire more staff, develop new products, and finance other business objectives [7].  In Ireland, the cost of the scheme to the exchequer was €421 million in 2013 [8] and almost 1,400 companies, employing nearly 150,000 people, have availed of the incentive [9], yet many in the construction sector aren’t aware of the credit. Examples of some of the qualifying activities are:

  • Green building design or improvement
  • Energy efficiency design or improvement
  • Experimenting with alternative material combinations
  • HVAC system design for airflow
  • Electrical system design for efficient power usage
  • Plant production system design and optimisation
  • New modular off-site fabrication methods
  • Construction equipment development and improvement
  • Building information modelling (BIM) for sub-system coordination
  • Design functions directed at improving performance, reliability, quality, safety, and costs
  • Unique infrastructure design
  • Structure and facility design for constructability

Traditional research activities that take place during the development of advanced materials aren’t the only activities that qualify for the R&D tax credit. So, as long as companies are attempting to develop new and improved products, product lines, manufacturing processes, or software, they could be eligible. While companies are beginning to plan for the coming year and beyond, there is no time like the present for R&D and financial professionals within the sector to evaluate whether they’re taking full advantage of the R&D tax credit. From our experience there are 3 questions which are commonly asked;

  1. How does the credit work? The R&D credit works by providing a company with a credit calculated as 25% of qualifying R&D expenditure. In addition to the 12.5% trading deduction, this effectively means that the company can benefit from an effective tax benefit of 37.5% on their R&D spend.
  2. What are qualifying expenditures? This is expenditure incurred in developing processes which are systematic, investigative and experimental and as such qualify for the credit as set out by the guidelines issued by Revenue. Eligible expenditure includes direct and indirect costs so long as they are incurred in the carrying on of R&D in addition to capital expenditure on related plant and machinery. Basically, the company must be incurring expenditure on qualifying activities which are seeking to achieve a scientific or technological advancement through the resolution of a scientific or technological uncertainty in a 12 month accounting period.
  3. Why would a company claim the credit? Primarily, the principle gain to a company claiming the R&D tax credit is cash. This credit should not be undervalued or understated as cash is vital to the sustained health of any business. However, value can also be received for the R&D tax credit in a number of different ways, such as;

1. Including offsetting the tax credit against Corporation Tax,
2. As a refund by reference to payroll taxes and/or
3. Corporation Tax paid or as a reward to key staff in a tax efficient manner.

The natural follow on from the R&D tax credit is the Knowledge Development Box (KDB), which was introduced by Finance Act 2015 for companies whose accounting period commences on or after 1st of January 2016. As previously outlined the KDB, it is a regime for the taxation of income which arises from patents, copyrighted software and, in relation to smaller companies, other intellectual property (IP) that is similar to an invention which could be patented.

Recently, the Government has published the Knowledge Development Box (Certification of Inventions) Bill 2016 and provides that the Controller of Patents, Designs and Trade Marks will oversee and operate this certification scheme. This Bill is aimed at eligible SMEs involved in R&D activities in Ireland with income arising from intellectual property of less than €7.5m and with global turnover of less than €50m where the profits result from R&D.

Under the new scheme, a relevant company may make an application to the Controller of Patents, Designs and Trade Marks in order to avail of special tax treatment for such inventions i.e. the reduced corporate tax rate of 6.25% under the Knowledge Development Box (KDB). To qualify for the Knowledge Development Box Certificate (“KDB Certificate”), the invention must: (i) prior to the application, not be publicly available in any manner, (ii) not be obvious to someone ‘skilled in the art’, and (iii) have a specific, credible and substantial utility, i.e. be capable of being made or used in one or more industries [10]. An application for a KDB Certificate should be accompanied by an opinion and supporting evidence from a patent agent attesting to the invention being novel, non-obvious and useful. Where the Controller is satisfied that the invention meets all the requirements, he or she shall issue a KDB certificate in the specified form to the applicant.

It is important to note that a KDB Certificate does not confer any additional intellectual property rights or protections on the invention. However, the Bill is intended to incentivise companies to undertake innovative activities in Ireland [10].

In summary, choosing your R&D and KDB advisors is an important decision for you.  It is essential that your advisors have the skills and experience required to deal and grow with the financial and technical needs of your business.  It is equally important to know that your dedicated advisors will be able to form and maintain an excellent working relationship with your team and conduct their work in a professional and flexible manor. Within Mazars, we have a proven track record with the key credentials to provide a first-class detailed and tailored service that will go beyond our client’s expectations. It is this commitment which has our clients returning year on year. We have a specific dedicated Research & Development Tax Group which focuses on assisting companies in identifying activities that qualify for the KDB and Research & Development Tax Credit. Our service also extends to support our clients in the event of an audit. For more information please contact Gerry Vahey at gvahey@mazars.ie

Authors

Gerry Vahey, Partner- Tax Credit Group, Mazars

James O’Hagan, Assistant Manager- Tax Credit Group, Mazars

Dr. James Kennedy, Manager – Tax Credit Group, Mazars

 

References

  1. www.per.gov.ie/wp-content/uploads/NCIP-Online.pdf  [Accessed 2th of February 2017].
  2. http://www.bruceshaw.com/knowledgecentre/chapters/ireland  [Accessed 1st of February 2017].
  3. http://www.construction-today.com/sections/columns/2700-the-benefits-of-r-d-tax-credits [Accessed 2th of February 2017].
  4. https://djei.ie/en/Publications/Publication-files/Forf%C3%A1s/Ireland-s-Construction-Sector-Outlook-and-Strategic-Plan-to-2015.pdf  [Accessed 3rd of February 2017].
  5. https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/460042/RD_Tax_Credits_Statistics_September_2015.pdf [Accessed 1st of February 2017]
  6. http://www.forconstructionpros.com/article/12162200/10-construction-trends-shaping-the-industry-in-2016-and-beyond [Accessed 2th of February 2017].
  7. http://www.pharmexec.com/refuting-rd-tax-credit-myths  [Accessed 2th of February 2017].
  8. https://www.kildarestreet.com/wrans/?id=2016-01-28a.276  [Accessed 2th of February 2017].
  9. http://www.irishtimes.com/business/just-15-firms-to-benefit-from-bulk-of-50m-tax-break-1.2084764  [Accessed 3rd of February 2017].
  10. http://www.mccannfitzgerald.com/McfgFiles/knowledge/7464-Knowledge%20Development%20Box%20(Certification%20of%20Inventions)%20Bill%202016.pdf [Accessed 3rd of February 2017].

Posted in R&D Investment0 Comments

Government Invested €761 Million in Research & Development in 2016

Government Invested €761 Million in Research & Development in 2016

The latest report on Government investment in research and development (R&D),  published by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation on Thursday, shows that the Irish government allocated €761 Million for R&D in 2016.

Survey data in ‘The Research and Development Budget 2015-16’ publication is compiled from a comprehensive survey of all Government Departments / Agencies and show that the Government allocated €761m for R&D in 2016.   This is the third year in a row that funding has increased and represents a 3.2% increase on the 2015 figure of €736m.

The Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation and its Agencies (Science Foundation Ireland, Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland) were responsible for over half of all Government R&D investment in 2015 at €391m or 53.1%.

The report provides details of Government funded research programs and highlights the extent and variety of R&D being carried out in the country.

In addition, the report brings together the latest data on business, higher education and government agencies’ spending on R&D in Ireland.   In 2014, the Gross Expenditure on R&D (GERD) by all sectors of the Irish economy was €2.9 billion.   The highest expenditure on R&D continues to be within the business sector which accounted for €2.1 billion of total GERD.

Minister for Training & Skills, John Halligan said: “Ireland’s future economic growth and prosperity will depend in very large measure on our continued investment in Research, Development and Innovation. This investment is all about developing a competitive knowledge based economy and society, driving innovation in enterprise, building human capital and maximising the return on R&D investment for economic and social progress. It is encouraging to see the increasing overall levels of public investment in this area, especially given the competing demands and continuing pressure on public finances. This positive momentum must be maintained and we must continue to give R&D funding sufficient priority to ensure Ireland becomes a global innovation leader.”

The full report can be read here.

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Government to Grant More Than €28m in Awards for Agri-Food, Marine and Forest Research

Government to Grant More Than €28m in Awards for Agri-Food, Marine and Forest Research

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, announced on Thursday awards of over €28 million for collaborative inter-institutional research projects under the Department’s competitive research funding programmes.

The 43 awards involve collaborations between 19 different institutions and organisations including Teagasc, a number of universities and institutes of technology.  The research investment announced will provide direct employment for 186 people including 65 contract researchers and 83 post graduate research opportunities in the form of PhDs (66) and Masters degrees (17).

The content of these grants were heavily influenced by strategic research and innovation agendas drawn up by industry-led, stakeholder advisory groups.  The projects cover a number of key overarching themes including; sustainable food production and processing; managing for environmental protection and enhancement; sustainable forest management; delivering food safety & food quality; and food for improved nutrition and health.

Additonally, the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, Northern Ireland, has teamed up with DAFM to provide funding of over €2 million to enable 3 research performing organisations north of the border to participate in 7 of the successful  research projects.

Announcing the awards at a briefing in Dublin, Creed said “today’s research awards brings the total investment made by my Department over the last five years to just over €124 million.  This research is a key component in delivering on the ambitious targets set out in the Food Wise 2025 and the Government’s Action Plan for Jobs”.

Posted in Food, News, R&D Investment, R&D News0 Comments

SEAI Doubles Sustainable Energy Research Fund to €2 Million in 2017

SEAI Doubles Sustainable Energy Research Fund to €2 Million in 2017

The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) announced on Thursday a doubling of its Energy Research, Development and Demonstration fund for next year to €2 million. The fund is open to Irish researchers in industry and academia to support sustainable energy research. Priority areas include energy efficiency, citizen engagement and energy storage with the programme open to a wide range of proposal types – including technology RD&D, field research, and feasibility studies.

SEAI Head of Low Carbon Technologies Dr Eimear Cotter said: “This comes on foot of a heavily oversubscribed programme in 2016 with high quality applications across a broad range of sustainable energy research and development. This is a really strong indicator of the vibrancy of Ireland’s energy research environment across academia and industry.

“Irish researchers have already drawn down €27m in funding in energy-related research under Horizon 2020, for which SEAI is the National Delegate.  We expect this success to continue for the duration of the project.”

The 2016 research programme is currently drawing to a close and is providing valuable outputs, enhancing the evidence-base in areas such as community energy project models; solar energy; land-use planning and energy infrastructure; bioenergy and geospatial energy datasets.

Since 2002 SEAI has provided €26 million funding through its Energy RD&D programme.  Recent supported projects include:

NovoGrid which have developed an intelligent control system that enables PV solar generators to deliver more energy by minimising thermal impacts on the electrical distribution network.

NVP Energy, which is developing an innovative wastewater treatment technology. Funding was provided to validate NVP Energy’s low temperature Anaerobic Digestion technology at full scale to ensure the technology meets expected treatment levels, as seen in pilot studies.

South Dublin County Council were funded to develop an ‘Energy Masterplan’ for Clonburris in Dublin, offering the potential to support cost-competitive low carbon heat and electricity alternatives that can be mirrored by other Councils around Ireland.

Terrag GeoServ Ltd are developing a hybrid ground source and solar thermal system for the Irish market. Funding was provided to develop the system which will introduce a cost competitive alternative to the Irish ground source heat pump market, with greater long term performance and improved operating costs.

Posted in Energy, Innovation, R&D Investment, R&D News0 Comments

Origin and UCD Form €17.6 Million Crop Science Research Partnership

Origin and UCD Form €17.6 Million Crop Science Research Partnership

Origin Enterprises plc and University College Dublin established a €17.6 million, five-year agriculture and crop science research programme, UCD announced on Monday.

The collaboration combines the leading expertise of UCD in data science and agricultural science with Origin’s integrated crop management research, systems capabilities and extensive on-farm knowledge exchange networks.

“The collaboration provides Origin with a development platform which accesses the very substantial intellectual capacity, advanced data analytics, sensing technologies and modelling resources of UCD Origin CEO Tom O’Mahony said. “The merging of conventional crop science and agronomic application with digital technology and prescriptive data analytics will enhance Origin’s knowledge-intensive offering along with improving the capacity to scale our service.”

A cornerstone of the partnership will be the creation of scalable, dynamic and integrated crop models which incorporate consistent and real-time data-driven and data-analytical approaches that optimise sustainable crop performance through enabling enhanced predictive intelligence capabilities at field level.

“The SFI Strategic Partnership Programme supports unique research partnerships with strong potential for impact on the Irish economy,” said Chief Scientific Advisor to the Government of Ireland Mark Ferguson. “Combining the resources and expertise from these organisations will secure Ireland’s international position in the field of data-driven agriculture. The proposed integrated crop model will have global implications in the sustainable production of crops, addressing the challenge of food production for a rapidly expanding global population,” he said.

Posted in Food, Innovation, R&D Investment, University Investment0 Comments

BD to Build R&D Centre in Limerick

BD to Build R&D Centre in Limerick

Medical Technology company Becton, Dickinson and Company (BD) announced on Friday that it plans to open a research and development centre in Limerick, creating about 100 jobs.

The €21 million investment in the centre includes an extensive renovation of the former UniGolf facility in the National Technology Park. Once completed, it is planned to house more than 200 high-tech positions, including the more than 100 BD jobs that are already in Limerick and 100 new positions.

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan, who attended the announcement, said: “Today’s announcement by BD of 100 jobs makes me very proud of Limerick. The company will now begin the process of giving 100 highly skilled workers the opportunity to improve their own lives through employment and also contribute in a meaningful way to the growth of this world class company. This is the latest in a series of quality jobs announcements in Limerick and is a further endorsement of the people of Limerick, the city itself and the top class educational institutions.”

BD has invested significantly in Ireland since 1964 with two sites in Drogheda and Dun Laoghaire, employing more than 500 people in high-skill positions. With the acquisition of GenCell Biosystems Limited in Limerick, the number of BD employees in Ireland has risen to nearly 600.

The BD Limerick R&D Centre will initially focus on product and software development, clinical research instrumentation and prototype development, primarily for the company’s Life Sciences businesses.

Ellen Strahlman, Executive Vice President R&D and Chief Medical Officer for BD said: “Areas served by activities and products arising from our new R&D Centre of Excellence will include the fields of microbiology and molecular biology, clinical and cellular research analysis, and industrial microbiology. Customers will include hospitals, laboratories and clinics, reference laboratories, industrial laboratories, physicians’ office practices, alternate site health care, academic and government institutions, and research facilities. Limerick will be very important for our strategic growth.”

Posted in Healthcare, Medical Research, R&D Investment0 Comments

Medicine Research Network Launched at UCC

Medicine Research Network Launched at UCC

The UCC School of Pharmacy-led PEARRL (Pharmaceutical Education and Research with Regulatory Links) Network officially launched this week. The network, funded by Horizon 2020 and Marie Sklodowska-Curie innovation programme, aims to achieve earlier patient access to new medicines, has been launched.

The PEARRL project brings together 18 leading European institutions, including Pharma industry, academia and regulatory agency partners to deliver a unique research and training programme.

Fifteen early stage researchers will be recruited in PEARRL, to focus on research into developing drug formulation strategies to enable accelerated approval and reduced cost of development, in turn facilitating earlier patient access to breakthrough therapies.

Project Coordinator of PEARRL Dr Brendan Griffin, from the School of Pharmacy, UCC, said: “Within PEARRL, our research will develop novel drug delivery technology, new screening methods and innovative models to forecast drug levels in humans, which will collectively streamline the development of new oral medicines. In addition, PEARRL will provide a unique training network for developing the next generation of leading pharmaceutical and regulatory scientists.”

Posted in Healthcare, Innovation, Medical Research, R&D Investment, R&D News, University Investment0 Comments

UCD to Lead €4 million European Research Network Developing Mental Health Services Technologies

UCD to Lead €4 million European Research Network Developing Mental Health Services Technologies

Technology Enabled Mental Health for Young People (TEAM), a new €4 million research and training network focused on developing new technologies to support the provision of mental health services for young people, was announced on Tuesday, November 22, at University College Dublin (UDC).

A UCD Press release said that numerous international studies have concluded that many people experiencing mental health difficulties do not have access to appropriate support. Young people have been identified as being particularly vulnerable and requiring specific attention. Research suggests that 50% of mental disorders emerge by 14 years of age. Untreated difficulties at a young age also triple the likelihood of further difficulties in later life.

TEAM, which brings together a multi-disciplinary network of mental health experts, computer scientists, designers and policy experts from five countries, (Austria, Denmark, Ireland, Spain and the UK) will provide a doctoral training and research platform for 15 PhD students.

The overall objective of the TEAM network is to train these researchers to deliver more effective, affordable and accessible mental health services for young people. The network will also focus on the design, development and evaluation of new technology enabled mental health services.

TEAM, led by University College Dublin, involves nine partners; four universities (Technical University of Denmark, Technical University Vienna, University of Glasgow and UCD); two university hospitals (Medical University Vienna, Psychiatric Centre Copenhagen (Region Hovedstaden)), two not-for-profit organisations (The Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families, ReachOut Ireland Ltd); and one industry research laboratory (Telefonica Alpha).

Dr David Coyle, TEAM project co-ordinator, and a researcher in human computer interaction at UCD’s School of Computer Science said, “We are not going to address all of the challenges in youth mental health in just four years. But we do aim to train a new generation of researchers, with a unique combination of skills, who will be at the forefront of this challenge in the coming decades.”

He added, “Technology can play an important role in improving mental health services, but only if we get the details right. It was critical that TEAM had an appropriate balance of mental health experts, computer scientists and designers. Throughout the project we will work in close partnership with mental health services and with people with experiences of mental health difficulties.”

The TEAM research programme is built around four key themes: assessment, prevention, treatment and policy. It aims to deliver new technologies that can support rapid, early and large-scale assessment, prevention and treatment of mental health difficulties in young people.

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