UL secures €165,000 to develop next-gen LED lighting

9 Nov 2011

Paul Grogan, CTO, Ikon Semiconductor; Conor McAuliffe, CEO and founder, Ikon Semiconductor; and Dr Mark Halton. Photo by Brian Gavin/Press 2

University of Limerick (UL) has entered into an ‘Innovation Partnership’ with Irish clean-tech firm Ikon Semiconductor to develop a next-generation LED-based energy-efficient lighting solution, divining into the growing appetite globally for cleaner lighting.

As Ireland ramps up its clean-tech portfolio, this latest industry-university partnership is tapping into a diversifying global lighting market challenge to make lighting more energy efficient, especially as lighting accounts for almost 19pc of global energy consumption and the traditional incandescent light bulb has not altered dramatically since its 1879 invention by Thomas Edison.

Companies such as General Electric (GE) are really growing their LED lighting efforts, in the global race to green the lighting marketplace, especially as with the traditional incandescent light bulb almost 90pc of the energy consumed is given off as heat right now.

More than 12bn incandescent light bulbs are sold annually. Overall, lighting gives rise to 1,900m tonnes of CO2 emissions, which is roughly 70pc of the CO2 emitted by all the world’s light duty vehicles such as cars, SUVs and motorcycles, said UL today.

Ireland’s clean-tech drive

The research partnership between UL and Ikon Semiconductor is being facilitated by an Innovation Partnership grant of €165,000 from Enterprise Ireland, which is really supporting Ireland’s clean-tech drive. The Microelectronics Competence Centre Ireland (MCCI) is also supporting the university-industry alliance.

Ikon Semiconductor is a fabless semiconductor company based in Dublin. It is focusing on developing innovative solutions that will reduce cost and enhance performance of next-generation LED lighting solutions. This research collaboration has been facilitated by Dr Mark Halton, principal investigator on the project. Based at the Department of Electronics and Computer Engineering (ECE) at UL, he has established strong links with key semiconductor companies in the power industry in Ireland.  

Speaking on the benefits of the partnership with Ikon Semiconductor, Halton said it was an excellent example of university-industry collaboration.

“It will result in the commercialisation of research outputs for the benefit of the Irish economy; it is a very exciting development for us,” said Halton.

Conor McAuliffe, CEO and founder of Ikon Semiconductor, said the company was looking forward to working with Halton and his team at UL.

“As an early stage semiconductor company developing integrated circuits for LED lighting, we see significant benefits in collaborations such as this that will open up valuable commercial opportunities in this rapidly growing global market.”

The research is focused on developing new digitally controlled integrated circuits for next-generation LED lighting solutions, which is currently one of the fastest growing and most efficient sources of green-energy lighting globally.

LED lighting will illuminate Tower Bridge in London

Tower Bridge in London

The news follows GE’s announcement yesterday that it is to carry out a LED lighting revamp of London’s Tower Bridge, so that the bridge’s gothic features can be shown to the world in the best light in time for next year’s Olympic Games, which are being held in the UK capital.

UL R&D and spin-out success stories

UL itself has been granted more than €40m in research funding for the past calendar year. Its commercialisation success has led to 114 new invention disclosures, 53 patent applications, 27 licence agreements and eight campus companies in the past five years. These eight companies have succeeded in attracting in excess of €35m in investment funding and now employ 80 people locally.

In 2010 alone, four new university patents at UL were granted by the European Patent office and the US Patent Office.  

Spin-out success stories at UL stories include Powervation, Stokes Bio and Crescent Diagnostics.

In addition, 94pc of UL’s 2010 PhD graduates are employed, with the majority of these graduates working in Ireland.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic