NUI Galway to lead €3m worth of fresh research projects

17 Jul 2017

From left: David Minton, director of the Northern and Western Regional Assembly; with NUI Galway’s Dr Ger O’Connor, Dr Anne Marie Power and Dr Stephen Hynes. Image: Aengus McMahon

Fishing, medtech and energy are three areas of focus at NUI Galway after a fresh batch of funding was secured for the north and west of the country.

Regional solutions to regional problems is probably an ethos worth sticking to, with initiatives in the north and west of Ireland doing just that.

It is through the region’s Atlantic Area Interreg programme, for example, that €3m worth of fresh funding has been allocated for local studies.

NUI Galway (NUIG) will be leading the programme, with projects in the areas of sustainable fishing, biomedical devices, sustainable fuels and the marine economy to be funded.

One of the studies looks at cephalopods, in particular, and how suitable they could be to the human diet. This is quite timely, given the abundance of the species in the Mediterranean as sea temperatures rise.

Serving society

“Our university’s stated aim in research is to anticipate and serve the needs of society and economy,” said Dr Jim Browne, NUIG’s president.

“This becomes even more pertinent when we consider the needs of the region here in the west of Ireland, and our commitment to supporting those who live and work along the Atlantic seaboard.

“What these projects have in common, is that they seek to drive innovation to support the long-term sustainability of our region in a range of ways, from the fishing industry to the biomedical industry; seeking to safeguard our environment by developing new energy sources and to support the marine economy as a whole.”

Fab four

The four NUIG-led projects are:

  • CephsandChefs, which will collect biological and socioeconomic data from different Atlantic area cephalopod fisheries to improve knowledge of the value chain and sustainability. Researchers will investigate consumer eating habits in north and south Europe, and look at people’s willingness to adopt new products from this seafood class.
  • Atlantic-Ket-Med, which will apply photonics, nanotechnology, printed electronics, bioprinting, additive manufacturing and advanced materials to make a new generation of medical devices. The project will help establish regional productive systems for extracting greater value from the marine-based biomaterials along the Atlantic area.
  • SEAFUEL, which aims to demonstrate the feasibility of powering local transportation networks using fuels produced by renewable energies and seawater, with no net carbon footprint. It will cover technical innovation by a demonstration plant in the Canary Islands.
  • MOSES, which will examine the size and growth of key strategic marine industries across the Atlantic Arc and will propose the ‘blue growth’ path for the sustainable development of the major sectors operating in the space as envisaged in the Atlantic Action Plan and the EU Blue Growth strategy.

Charmed life

NUIG is having a roaring 2017 to date. Dr Jessamyn Fairfield, from the university’s School of Physics, was recently honoured with the Mary Somerville Medal.

Fairfield, no stranger to, was lauded for her “stellar work as a public speaker and writer on physics for a popular audience, and for having organised and hosted many innovative events bringing physics to the Irish public”.

Elsewhere, the university’s medical device centre, Cúram – recently profiled on – has revealed its latest innovation, one which could help prevent serious illnesses and death caused by unwanted infection when an implantable device is placed in the human body.

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic