SFI’s Beacon centre partners with THEA to address climate emergency

18 Oct 2019

Image: Beacon bioeconomy research centre

The organisations believe that the bioeconomy could be a key driver for stimulating rural and agricultural development in Ireland.

On Thursday (17 October), Science Foundation Ireland’s (SFI) bioeconomy research centre, Beacon, announced that it will partner with the higher education sector in an attempt to unlock the commercial potential of Ireland’s bioeconomy and proactively tackle the climate crisis.

Beacon was set up to address multiple scientific, technological and social challenges in order to advance to an economy that uses biological resources sustainably to produce valuable goods, fuels and energy.

The research centre believes that the bioeconomy can be a key driver in stimulating rural and agricultural development, as 80pc of the nation’s agri-food companies are located in rural Ireland.

Partnering with higher education

Beacon announced that it has signed an agreement with the Technological Higher Education Association (THEA) to create partnerships and opportunities for collaboration across the sector.

Beacon and THEA have said that they will further develop Ireland’s bioeconomy through partnerships in research, development, innovation, education and training opportunities, with a particular focus on regional development.

This is the first agreement of this kind that THEA has signed with an SFI research centre. It was signed as part of Bioeconomy Week Ireland 2019.

Dr Jennifer Brennan, director of research development and innovation with THEA, said: “This agreement allows the Beacon centre to create opportunities for collaboration with all of our members.

“Two of our members, IT Tralee and LIT, are already developing ideas for joint initiatives with Beacon and we look forward to working with the centre to extend that partnership across regions.”

The need to work together collaboratively

Prof Kevin O’Connor, director of Beacon, said: “Key to developing a vibrant, sustainable circular bioeconomy in Ireland is the need to work together collaboratively.

“Beacon brings together expertise in this way. Our aim is to grow the size of our centre and breadth of our research portfolio through collaboration with investigators, institutions and industry as partners and increasing our access to European funding.”

O’Connor added that this agreement will allow for interaction and dialogue with the technological higher education sector as a whole.

“It is particularly significant that we are signing this agreement during Bioeconomy Week 2019, where bioeconomy events and activities are taking place right across the country, shining a spotlight on new and exciting opportunities, particularly in rural areas.”

Kelly Earley was a journalist with Silicon Republic