Meet the directors of the four new SFI research centres

7 Sep 2017

SFI launches its four new research centres with An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, TD, in attendance. Image: Jason Clarke Photography

The Government and SFI have welcomed the launch of four new research centres in Ireland, aiming to tap into the most advanced technologies around.

Earlier today (7 September), Ireland’s senior politicians turned up for the launch of four new Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) research centres, representing an investment of €74m from the Government over the next six years, with a €40m investment from industry.

On stage at the launch, SFI director general Prof Mark Ferguson emphasised the need for even greater levels of funding from the Government to support these new centres and others in the pipeline, so as to keep us competitive against the likes of the US, Australia and New Zealand.

Not only will they play a crucial role academically, Ferguson said, but they could potentially lead to the creation of a number of spin-out companies, which could contribute to various sectors including biotech, medtech, computer science and manufacturing.

But what exactly will the four new centres do? What will their role be in contributing to the latest in research?

Confirm will look at making Ireland a world leader in smart manufacturing. Optimising the manufacturing industry with added intelligence and enhanced information technology will shorten supply chains and speed up development of new innovations across the board.

Beacon is the new bioeconomy research centre, concentrating on the sustainable use of biological resources to produce goods such as plastics, fuels and bioactive molecules. It aims to use the byproducts of the marine and agricultural sectors to create these new sustainable products. This will be vital in a world currently dependent on depleting fossil fuels.

FutureNeuro will focus on addressing the burden caused by chronic and rare neurological illnesses. It will initially focus on world-leading research into epilepsy and motor neurone disease, then expand to focus on other debilitating conditions.

I-Form Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre will enhance the processing efficiency of Irish manufacturing, allowing the production of highly customised 3D-printed components that exhibit superior performance. Using embedded sensors and advanced data analytic techniques, manufacturing waste will be reduced, promoting Ireland as a leader in additive manufacturing. caught up with the four new directors to find out what they hope to achieve in the months and years to come.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic