Bioeconomy research demo sites in the midlands to get funding boost

27 Feb 2023

Dr Liam Brown, TUS VP of research, development and innovation; Dr Emer O’Neill, TUS; Dr Mark Lynch, TUS; Dr Patrick Barrett, DAFM; and Dr Paudie Murray, TUS head of research and technology transfer. Image: Nathan Cafolla

Tipperary and Offaly will be the bases for two bioeconomy research projects under development by the Technological University of the Shannon.

The Government has awarded the Technological University of the Shannon (TUS) €1.25m in funding towards the development of two bioeconomy demonstration sites.

One of these sites will be in Tipperary, and the other will be in Offaly. The two sites are being developed as part of a wider series of research projects aimed at meeting the strategic needs of the agri-food, forest and bioeconomy sectors.

TUS is leading two of the 19 short-term research projects. It will receive almost 30pc of the total €4.2m in funding allocated from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM).

The Tipperary site will be based at the Irish Bioeconomy Foundation campus at the former Lisheen Mine site in Moyne, Co Tipperary. It will be led by Dr Patrick Murray and the LIFE Research Institute team.

Murray is head of research and technology transfer at TUS. Commenting on his team receiving funding from the Government, he said Ireland has “abundant bioresources that present immense opportunities for the development of a vibrant circular bioeconomy on the island.”

The second TUS site in Offaly will be based at Mount Lucas, led by Prof Neil Rowan and his Bioscience Research Institute team.

“We are delighted to have received funding under DAFM for policy-focused research to explore and develop a new bioeconomy demonstration blueprint for the Irish midlands with stakeholders,” Rowan said.

“This will inform established and emerging top-down government strategic policies using a bottom-up, end-user perspective approach. It will define an effective interface to accelerate these opportunities for businesses, communities and society.”

Rowan added that the funding will go towards the establishment of a circular ecosystem regionally including the change of land use such as the peatlands.

“It will also underpin and support our next generation of change-makers to unlock the potential of the bioeconomy empowered through education,” he said.

The funding allocation announcement was made by the Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine with special responsibility for research and innovation, Martin Heydon on 23 February.

His department initially made a call for funding applicants in 2022 under the first Policy and Strategic Studies Research Call. The call targeted evidence-based research as a means of assisting the formation of public policy.

The 19 successful projects, involve a total of 12 research performing organisations. They cover a wide range of topics including climate adaptation, plant health regulation and pesticides, forestry, animal health and welfare, the bioeconomy, and women in farming.

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Blathnaid O’Dea was a Careers reporter at Silicon Republic until 2024.