Enterprise Ireland backs regional centres for life sciences and industry 4.0

22 Dec 2020

From left: Dr John Cosgrove, Dr Liam Brown, Jamie Meehan, Ciaran O’Loughlin and Harriet Cotter at the launch of IDEAM. Image: Alan Place

The IDEAM manufacturing cluster in Limerick and the Kinetic Labs development in Waterford will play to industry strengths in Irish regions.

Regional funding from Enterprise Ireland will support a manufacturing cluster in the mid-west and a facility where companies can perform lab-based research and development in the south-east.

Kinetic Labs, a purpose-built science and innovation centre in Waterford, will open in the new year to support science-based companies in the region.

Surrounded by the life sciences cluster of the south-east, space in Kinetic Labs’ facilities will be available to rent from January 2021. As well as access to more than 400 sq m of wet lab space, the facility will support new and established science-based companies with links to WorkLab, a flexible office and workspace provider in Waterford.

Kinetic Labs has a range of offerings from shared lab space for small companies just starting out to individual furnished and unfurnished facilities for more established companies.

Interior of Kinetic Labs, looking down a hallway leading to several empty wet labs.

Kinetic Labs, Waterford. Image: Colin Shanahan/DigiCol Photography

“The ability of start-ups and established companies to find appropriate web lab facilities is a key constraint in the development of science-based industries in the region,” said John Breen, centre manager for Kinetic Labs. “Kinetic Labs overcomes this issue and will drive the growth, in particular, of life science companies in the south-east.”

With more than 8,000 people in the south-east region already employed in the pharma and medical device industry, Breen added that the new centre is playing to this regional strength and will be connected to the wider business and research ecosystem in the area. “It is our vision to transform Kinetic Labs into a science innovation hub for the south-east,” he said.

Construction on Kinetic Labs began last year with funding from Enterprise Ireland’s Regional Enterprise Development Fund as well as Waterford City and County Council, and WorkLab.

Enterprise Ireland funding has also supported the development of a new cluster to support manufacturing SMEs in the mid-west.

Launched last week at Limerick Institute of Technology (LIT), the Irish Digital Engineering and Advanced Manufacturing (IDEAM) cluster will help more than 70 manufacturing SMEs from the mid-west and all over Ireland to increase productivity, improve competitiveness and expand into international markets. It will have a particular focus on supporting digital transformation and the adoption of industry 4.0 automation and smart technology.

With backing of more than €400,000 from the Regional Technology Clustering Fund, IDEAM brings together the already-established networks of Limerick for Engineering, Limerick for IT and the Precision and Turned Parts Manufacturing Association.

“IDEAM will add to the ecosystem for manufacturing and ICT companies in the mid-west region,” said Harriet Cotter, manager of the Regional Technology Clustering Fund at Enterprise Ireland.

“LIT have specialist capability in the area of manufacturing 4.0 and given the relatively high number of traditional manufacturing companies in the region, this cluster can only benefit the individual companies and create a positive economic impact regionally and, potentially, nationally.”

Jamie Meehan, educational and outreach manager for the IDEAM cluster, said the time is right for Ireland, and in particular the mid-west, to position itself as “a world-class one-stop-shop that will assist manufacturing SMEs in all aspects of digital transformation and industry 4.0”.

“An advanced manufacturing and industry 4.0 digital transformation cluster can pioneer Ireland on an international scale to attract start-ups and investments, and develop indigenous SMEs in this sector, but everyone must work more collectively and build trust towards specific goals with a strategic focus,” he added.

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.