New Irish food tech cluster announced for €26.75m State fund

2 May 2018

Image: Edgar G Biehle/Shutterstock

The Government is putting €26.75m into a fund that will help develop an Irish food tech cluster to better connect researchers with industry.

Since its formation in 2013, the Technology Gateway Network has completed more than 2,750 projects with more than 1,250 Irish-based companies on projects ranging from polymers to pharmaceuticals, photonics to mobile services and mechatronics, right through to biotechnology and industrial design.

Today (2 May), Minister of State for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development John Halligan, TD, has announced that the Government is providing €26.75m in funding for the network until 2022.

One of its biggest single endeavours is the establishment of a new food and beverage technology cluster – dubbed ‘Irish food tech’ – joining 14 other technological clusters.

“As with the other two sectoral clusters in the network – applied internet of things, and engineering, materials and design [of] Ireland – the aim of Irish food tech is to optimise the power of the network and connect industry with researchers in a wide selection of areas that include bioprocessing, food for health, process control and packaging,” Halligan said.

The network consists of individual gateways hosted by an institute of technology, spread across the country, providing industry with access to more than 300 highly skilled and industrially focused researchers, together with specialist equipment and facilities.

Halligan added: “The Technology Gateway Network programme aims to bring Irish companies together with the researchers in the institutes of technology to provide near-to-market innovation and solutions in a range of areas, both regionally and nationally.”

Gearoid Mooney, manager of research and innovation at Enterprise Ireland, also said it will be beneficial for a variety of businesses.

“[It] offers an open access point for industry, providing technology expertise which is industry relevant. Projects range from small start-ups in the regions making use of the Enterprise Ireland’s Innovation Voucher Scheme, to larger companies using the Innovation Partnership Programme.

“However, the most common mechanism by which companies engage via the gateways is through projects they pay for completely themselves without leveraging any State funding.”

Updated, 10.25am, 3 May 2018: This article was amended to change ‘exploration and mining division’ to ‘engineering, materials and design’

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic