The Irish Government and industry is to pump a combined €50m investment into the Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre (APC) in Cork. The funding will be used to steer further research at the centre, with the goal being to make the APC a national exemplar for food and medical research, particularly in the probiotics and pharmabiotics areas.
Research and Innovation Minister Sean Sherlock, TD, and Simon Coveney, TD, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, have just announced the Government funding, which will comprise €36m through the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation. The Irish Government is set to leverage a further investment of €14m from industry for research at the APC.
The APC spans University College Cork (UCC), Teagasc (Ireland’s agriculture and food development authority) and Cork Institute of Technology (CIT).
The welcome news is that 109 researchers will be employed at the centre over the next six years. The Government is also hoping that this talent pool will enable Ireland to leverage significant other investments, such as from EU funding streams and additional industry partners in the years ahead.
Research commercialisation agenda
The exchequer funding is through Science Foundation Ireland’s (SFI) Research Centres programme and will support research into how bacteria in the human gut impacts on population health, leading to the development of future foods and medicines.
Announcing the funding, Sherlock said the importance of continued investment in research cannot be underestimated both in terms of job creation and its overall impact on society.
Via the SFI Research Centres programme this year, the Government has established seven research centres of international scale and excellence.
“These cutting-edge research centres, which includes the APC here in Cork, will further enhance Ireland’s economic recovery process and be a draw for industry,” said Sherlock this morning.
He added that the APC has already established itself as one of the leading probiotics research facilities in the world.
“The continued and ongoing commitment of private enterprise is also critical for long-term success,” added Coveney, before pointing out that companies such as Kerry Group, Wyeth Nutrition, Alimentary Health, Second Genome, Trino Therapeutics and Sigmoid Pharma that are capitalising on the APC’s research.
The commercial significance of the APC’s research is highlighted by the participation of 12 companies from the national and international food, pharmaceutical, diagnostic and veterinary sectors, including the aforementioned companies.
“The APC is a world leader in the area of probiotics research and we are confident of its continued success,” said Prof Mark Ferguson, director-general of SFI, this morning.
“We expect that APC will expand and further leverage this initial investment through successful applications to the EU and by developing additional academic and industry partners in Ireland and internationally,” he said.
Coveney pointed out that agriculture sector is one of Ireland’s largest and most successful industries.
“Food for health products are expected to have a global value of US$176.7bn in 2013 and Ireland is uniquely positioned to capitalise on this growing sector,” he said.
“I am delighted that institutions such as UCC, Teagasc, and CIT are collaborating in ensuring the success of this national centre for food and medicine research.”