SFI announces first industry research facility

4 Jun 2004

Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) today announced the creation of Siemens Research Ireland, the first such facility to emerge from its new industry-Research Partnership Programme.

Siemens Research Ireland will be located at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI). SFI will invest €700,000 in the RCSI, while Siemens will contribute matching costs. The total value of the investment is €1.2m.

As part of the initial phase of the programme, a number of leading Siemens research scientists will transfer to Ireland and work along RSCI researchers in the fields of biotechnology, bioinformatics and pharmaceuticals. They will remain on secondment with RCSI for a minimum period of 18 months.

Dr Heinrich Huber, Siemens, will work alongside Prof Jochen Prehn, a SFI research professor at the RCSI, on the computational analysis of nerve cell death. Dr Radka Svobdova, Siemens, will work with Dr Denis Shields, a SFI-funded researcher at the RCSI, on the computer linkage of human proteome-derived short peptides with non-peptide drugs. Andreas de Stefani, Siemens will work with Dr Gerard Cagney, a SFI-funded researcher at the RCSI, to develop systems and algorithms for protein identification and quantification.

The new investment complements an initial investment by SFI in Prof Prehn, Dr Shields and Dr Cagney totalling €5.25m.

SFI’s Industry-Research Partnership programme provides Irish researchers with access to the excellent research expertise that resides within globally successful companies such as Siemens. The programme will also support connections between Irish small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and SFI-funded researchers in Ireland – a linkage seen as crucial in tapping the creative talent within the indigenous technology sector.

Commenting on the announcement, Dr Maurice Treacy, director of Biotechnology, SFI, said: “The Industry-Research Partnership Programme … will inform SFI scientists and engineers about industrial priorities and research needs as well as building additional academic-industrial collaborations and partnerships here in Ireland. We believe that these relationships will give SFI scientists, and Ireland, a competitive edge over their international competition as we progress into the 21st Century.”

Lorenz Zimmermann, managing director, Siemens Limited, commented: “Siemens Research Ireland is pleased to be associated with the first rate work that is being undertaken at the RCSI with the sponsorship of SFI. This collaboration promises to be mutually beneficial and offers great hope for developing applications of interest to both the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries in the future.”

Prof Kevin O’Malley, registrar and CEO of the RCSI, added: “RSCI is tremendously excited with this collaboration with Siemens. The strategic objective is to build this collaboration into a more substantial relationship with Siemens and our aim is to develop and foster a strong industrial partnership to enrich bioinformatics research in Ireland.”

By Brian Skelly