Athlone IT partners with AMBER SFI research centre

24 Jul 2019

Dr Declan Devine, director of the Materials Research Institute at Athlone IT. Image: Nathan Cafolla

A partnership announcement comes after Athlone IT revealed that it is hosting a €4.5m polymer testbed, said to be the first of its kind to be made open to industry.

On Monday (22 July), Athlone Institute of Technology (Athlone IT) announced that it was the first institute of technology in the country to partner with the Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) AMBER research centre.

The AMBER centre, which stands for advanced materials and bioengineering research, is headquartered in Trinity College Dublin (TCD).

In a statement, Athlone IT said: “This new partnership will foster research and education initiatives between the institute and existing AMBER members … promoting academic exchange and the development of research and innovation, particularly in the field of biomaterials for health and the circular economy – an economic system aimed at minimising waste.”

The existing members of AMBER are TCD, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, University College Cork (UCC), Dublin City University, National University of Ireland Galway, University of Limerick and Tyndall Institute.

Polymer research

Earlier this month, Athlone IT announced that it would be hosting a €4.5m polymer testbed, said to be the first of its kind made open to industry.

The institute’s work with AMBER will now facilitate research in critical and emerging sectors of the economy related to polymers for applications in the life sciences, sustainable materials and industrial manufacturing.

AMBER partners in UCC and TCD will help to develop new sustainable polymer strategies, such as polymer recycling and emerging biopolymers as alternatives to the reliance on the traditional fossil fuel-driven polymer sector.

Athlone IT said that working with AMBER and its established research clusters will enable it to “address current gaps in knowledge, drive advances in materials science and engineering, and translate research excellence into new products and technologies for society and solutions for industry”.

It added that AMBER currently partners with 40 companies across the fields of ICT, medical technologies and devices, as well as sustainability and manufacturing, and will continue to “significantly scale its industry investment” during the centre’s second phase.

“It will also attract new foreign direct investment to Ireland and investment from foreign-owned businesses within Ireland,” the statement continued.

Prof Mark Ferguson, director general of SFI and chief scientific adviser to the Government, said: “As part of AMBER’s second phase, the centre will demonstrate significant impacts which will benefit individuals, communities, organisations and society both in Ireland and around the world.

“We are delighted to welcome Athlone Institute of Technology into the centre to deliver world-class materials science research and form strategic alliances with industry.”

Dr Declan Devine, director of the Materials Research Institute at Athlone IT, added: “Partnering with the AMBER SFI research centre will further enable us to grow research in our areas of expertise … and our development of materials for biomedical applications, such as bone regeneration and biodegradable polymer stents, and structural thermoplastic composites.”

Kelly Earley was a journalist with Silicon Republic