€7m cash injection for a smarter, greener economy

11 May 2009

A €7m investment into seven research areas to help spin out research into the commercial arena spells good news for those operating in the green space.

Today’s announcement from the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Mary Coughlan TD, regarding the introduction of seven industry groups to form research under the Competence Centres Programme comes as welcome news for Ireland Inc, as the country continues its journey towards a smarter, greener economy.

Some €1m will be invested in the seven research initiatives during the initial research phase.

The seven initiatives encompass ICT; nanotechnology; microelectronics and IT innovation; manufacturing using composite materials; manufacturing process technologies and energy efficiency in factories; and new technologies in bio-energy and bio-refining.

The seven industry initiatives are the Competence Centre in Applied Nanotechnology (CCAN); Microelectronics Competence Centre Ireland (MCCI); Composites Competence Centre (C3); Innovation for Ireland’s Energy Efficiency; the Irish Centre for Manufacturing Research ICMR; the BioEnergy and BioRefinery Competence Centre BBCC; and Innovation Value Institute Consortium Competence Centre IVIC3.

A joint initiative of Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland, the Competence Centres Programme was launched in 2007 as one of the key initiatives of the Government’s Strategy for Science Technology and Innovation 2006 -2013.

Some 64 companies were involved in the planning for these competence centres, including multinationals such as Medtronic, Intel, Xilinx, Seagate, Analog Devices, De Puy and Bombardier Aerospace, and Irish companies such as Creganna, AER Ltd, ÉireComposites Teo, Proxy Biomedical, S3, Aerogen and Redmere.

It is anticipated that a further 200 companies in Ireland will be directly associated with the competence centres.

Commenting on today’s announcement of the €7m funding, the Tánaiste said: “Creating employment through knowledge and innovation in our existing companies is a key Government priority as outlined in our strategy – ‘Building Ireland’s Smart Economy’.

“The Competence Centre initiatives will use collaborative research to address the challenges of making Irish manufacturing more competitive, and exploit the opportunities in the emerging energy, green technologies and IT sectors.”

The Competence Centre Programme will carry out market-focused, strategic R&D for the benefit of industry and will be resourced by highly qualified researchers.

Third-level research institutions are currently being invited to submit applications to host a competence centre. Plus, as part of the arrangement, a technology leader with a background in managing R&D projects will be employed to spear-head the development of each centre.

The Minister for Science, Technology, Innovation and Natural Resources, Conor Lenihan TD, said: “Bringing together companies with similar research needs and teaming them with highly qualified researchers to produce marketable products and services is a highly efficient way of conducting industrial research.

“This collaborative approach to creating and managing intellectual property will not only benefit the companies involved, but will also deliver a competitive advantage to Irish industry.”

For more information on the Competence Centre Programme, visit www.enterprise-ireland.com/CompetenceCentres.

By Carmel Doyle

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic