Tag Archive | "research"

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.

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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].

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Accenture Launches R&D Hub ‘The Dock’


Accenture announced on Friday plans to hire more than 300 technology and design professionals in Ireland this year. This includes 100 new roles at The Dock, the company’s multi-disciplinary research and incubation hub, which was officially opened the same day.  The Dock has capacity for more than 200 professionals to co-create new services and solutions.

“Accenture continues to make significant investments in Ireland, and we are delighted the company has made the country its centre of innovation, which further cements Ireland’s position globally as a technology hub,” said An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny. “The Government has been committed to driving initiatives that create high value jobs and competitive advantage for both multinational and indigenous companies looking to set up leading-edge research, innovation and technology facilities. The opening of The Dock and the creation of new technology jobs validates our strategy. Accenture is a committed, long-term resident of these shores and we look forward to continued partnership as the company further enhances its presence in Ireland.”

The new jobs will add to Accenture’s workforce of more than 2,200 in Ireland, offering technology and design career opportunities across a range of areas including artificial intelligence, advanced analytics and the Internet of Things, and industries including financial services, retail, consumer goods, life sciences and utilities.

“Our talented professionals across Ireland are imagining the future every day to solve some of the biggest challenges facing businesses, governments and consumers,” said Accenture CEO Pierre Nanterme. “We are proud to build on our long history in Ireland with today’s official opening of The Dock and investment in new jobs to drive innovation that helps our clients meet the demands of a rapidly evolving digital world.”

Located in Dublin’s Silicon Docks, The Dock is one of the world’s most connected and intelligent buildings, using sensors to learn from occupant behavior, react to user feedback and allow the building to continually evolve.

The Dock is supported by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation through IDA Ireland.

“Accenture’s decision to expand its innovation capability in Ireland represents a major win for the country, providing high-value employment and opportunities for people to work on exciting projects,” said Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Mary Mitchell O’Connor. “We have earned a great reputation for technology innovation in recent years, and The Dock will enhance our country’s credentials even further. I wish the company and employees the very best in the future.”

IDA Chief Executive Martin Shanahan,  said, “The Dock showcases Accenture’s depth of technology expertise in Ireland. The company’s continued investment in innovation and in its team of talented professionals greatly enhances Ireland’s position as a compelling location for global professional service firms. IDA continues to target additional investment in this key sector.”

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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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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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Record Number of Collaborative Agreements Signed Between Industry and Researchers in 2015


Research by Knowledge Transfer Ireland found that 748 collaborative new research agreements between research performing organisations and industry were signed in 2015, a record number, according to a November 18 report by Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation. This was an increase of 16% over 2014.

Results of the Annual Knowledge Transfer Survey, which tracks activity between the commercial sector and Ireland’s research performing organisations, found that in 2015, 65% of collaboration agreements signed by Research Performing Organisations were with Irish companies and that there were 1,235 live collaborative research programmes involving Research Performing Organisations underway at year end.

A panel of experts from a range of companies and from the Irish research base addressed an audience of over 200 industry and technology transfer professionals at the KTI conference on Friday, November 18.
“Knowledge Transfer continues to grow in Ireland. The latest figures around collaborative research – just one aspect of knowledge transfer – are testament to that. We have also seen encouraging growth in the transfer of intellectual property to companies through licensing agreements.” Director of Knowledge Transfer Ireland, Dr Alison Campbell said at the conference, “We now have 34 globally accredited Registered Technology Transfer Professionals (RTTP) in our universities and Institutes of Technology – the highest number of RTTP per capita in the world. Today is about bringing together the knowledge transfer community and industry experts from around the country to highlight the simplest routes to access researcher knowledge and share best practice.”

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Irish research at Trinity College supported through 2.3 million Euro investment by Nokia & SFI


trinity-collegeThe materials science institute AMBER, headquartered at Trinity College in Dublin, will continue its cooperation with Nokia Bell Labs and the Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) for another 4 years. Both Institutions will invest a total of 2.3 million Euro to make future research projects possible. The sum will be divided, as Nokia plans to provide 1.1 million, in cash as well as in-kind, while the Science Foundation Ireland will found 1.2 million. A number of Nokia Bell Labs researchers are integrated in the work of research groups at AMBER.

AMBER, which is the abbreviation for Advanced Materials and BioEngineering Research, has already been cooperating with Nokia Bell Labs for four years in research about novel energy storage technologies and advanced thermal management systems to allow extreme integration of optoelectronics devices. While Nokia provides the scientific and industrial Know-How, AMBER allocates fundamental materials science expertise and the facilities. The company was originally founded by one of the contributors of the investment, the Science Foundation Ireland.

Past projects between AMBER and Nokia Bell Labs already showed success and numerous possibilities for the growth of the research sector. For example, the number of common projects has increased from 2 to 4, allowing 7 full-time postdoctoral researchers to work on projects; 6 of them at Nokia Bell Labs Projects. The researchers were already able to introduce a new type of electrode for lithium ion batteries with high storage capacity as well as non-corrosive and magnetic shielding materials for Nokia’s technologies.

The joint research partnership was introduced during a visit of John Halligan, Minister of State with responsibility for Training and Skills, at Trinity’s Advanced Microscopy Laboratory on the 18th of October. The Minister was delighted about the news: “We have a wealth of high quality researchers in our academic institutes and my Department, through Science Foundation Ireland, will continue to support industrial partnerships that promote research commercialisation and job growth.”

Furthermore, he welcomed collaborations with big companies like Nokia as a “testament” as well as a “commitment” to the important role of Ireland’s scientific research.

The Director of AMBER, Prof. Michael Morris, declared that the institute would be continuously looking for further European funding for the research projects.

Julie Byrne, Executive Director Nokia Bell Labs in Ireland, added: “Our joint research projects in the area of energy storage, energy harvesting and energy efficiency will provide key technologies to enable Nokia’s Future X Network vision, which will transform human existence through the digitization and connection of everything.” She spoke about the cooperation bringing together “world class researchers” from both Nokia Bell Labs and AMBER.

 

Journalist Isabel Riedel

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Irish startup gets €500k investment to research medical benefits of cannabis


GreenLight Medicines has secured €500,000 from a consortium of Irish investors to fund research into the potential medicinal benefits of cannabis extracts.

The Irish pharmaceutical start-up, founded in 2015, has also secured €1.35 million in cannabidiol (CBD) hemp oil from Swiss-American firm, Isodiol. The CBD, which comprises around 40% of the cannabis plant’s extract, will assist GreenLight in conducting its research studies in Irish universities over the next five years.

GreenLight is the first indigenous company to focus on the production and sale of molecules from marijuana. Founder and CEO, Dr James Linden, says: “There’s mounting evidence that cannabinoids are an effective form of treatment for many illnesses, including Multiple Sclerosis (MS), glaucoma, arthritis, epilepsy and cancer.

“Our private investors have a track record in pharma investment in Europe and the US, and their knowledge and financial commitment, in addition to Isodiol’s investment, will enable us to complete our initial research modules into cannabinoid treatment for inflammation, eye disease and pain relief amongst other conditions.”

Since its inception, Linden and his team at GreenLight has focused on collaborations with Irish universities, such as UCD, UCC and NUI Galway, with this month seeing the beginning of the first research projects for these potential treatments.

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NUIG researchers find potent new possibilities in anti-cancer gene


New research published in the Open Biology journal by researchers at NUI Galway has shown that the anti-cancer gene TP53 has more tools to fight cancer than previously thought.

The anti-cancer gene had previously been identified for its processes which prevent cancer cells from multiplying in the body. These processes were able to either trigger a cells own destruction, or prevent cell division, making it a potent anti-cancer gene.

The team at Galway, led by Professor Noel Lowndes, discovered that TP53 also directly regulates the repair of broken DNA. Professor Lowndes explains how: “Broken DNA is the most dangerous type of DNA damage as it can result in cell death or loss of genetic information in those cells that survive the break.

“There are two major competing biochemical pathways for repairing pathways for repairing broken DNA. One simply re-joins the two ends of the broken chromosome. The other uses a nearby intact DNA molecule of the same sequence as a template to repair the broken chromosome. The other uses a nearby intact DNA molecule of the same sequence as a template to repair the broken chromosome.

“Our work demonstrates that the anti-cancer gene TP53 directly influences the regulation of these pathways. Thus, loss of TP53 during cancer development will drive the evolution of cancer cells towards ever more aggressive cancer types.”

The team indicate that it hopes this discovery will impact upon diagnosis of cancer and aid improved therapeutic interventions. Other recent studies have pointed to the successful targeting of TP53 in cancer therapeutics, with one study yielding positive results for chronic myeloid leukaemia.

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