UL’s Stokes Institute joint venture with biotech start-up targets US$10bn opportunity

20 Aug 2012

University of Limerick’s Stokes Institute has entered into a joint collaboration with Irish start-up GenCell Biosystems to develop genetic testing technology for the US$10bn global DNA diagnostics industry.

Genetic testing technology is used in a wide range of industries including drug discovery, agricultural biotech, medical genomics and molecular diagnostics.

The Stokes Institute and GenCell will focus on developing thermal control solutions for next generation genetic analysis.

Temperature control is a vital factor in effective genetic analysis.

Faster genetic analysis for global market

GenCell have developed a technology which will delivery highly accurate temperature control resulting in faster and more cost effective genetic analysis for the global market.

“GenCell products are based on a novel microfluidic technology or synthetic cells, which provide an ideal environment to perform highly sensitive genetic testing,” Dr. Kieran Curran, Founder and CEO of GenCell explained.

“We have been working on a wide range of challenges – microfluidic manipulation, biology, optical interrogation – and it is critical to maintain close control of temperature to perform genetic reactions important to modern biology.

“The Stokes Institute offers unrivalled expertise in thermal control techniques, and they also have a deep understanding of the microfluidic phenomena that underpin our technologies. GenCell is focused on building a successful Irish biotech company and collaboration with the Stokes Institute definitely delivers a technological edge to help compete better internationally.”

The collaboration, which focuses on GenCell’s unique Composite Liquid Cell (CLC) technology, is supported through Enterprise Ireland’s Innovation Partnership Scheme.

Limerick-based GenCell currently employs 26 highly skilled engineers and scientists.

Dr. Jeff Punch, Director, Stokes Institute, added: “GenCell have created a unique microfluidic technology that offers compelling advantages for a wide range of applications in the biosciences.

“The collaboration is a wonderful opportunity for us to apply our expertise in the thermal sciences to an industrially-relevant challenge. This collaboration supports highly skilled jobs in the Limerick region and is an example of applied research supporting Irish industry to compete internationally.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years