PMBRC awarded funding from Enterprise Ireland Capital Programme

PMBRC Technology Gateway receives funding from Enterprise Ireland Capital Programme

The PMBRC Technology Gateway has been awarded a share of the €6.4m Capital Equipment Fund administered by Enterprise Ireland through the Technology Gateways and Technology Centres Programmes. There were 32 successful applications from the Institutes of Technology (IoT) and Technological Universities. All three of WIT’s Technology Gateways (PMBRC, SEAM and TSSG) were approved for funding. PMBRC has been awarded funding for three items: 1. A Dynamic Vapour Sorption System (DVS), 2. A Sputter Coating System, and 3. A Cell Culture Suite (consisting of a biosafety cabinet with a CO2 incubator and a fluorescence microscope).

The largest of these items is the DVS System which is used to study the uptake of moisture and solvent vapours in materials. This is particularly important in the pharma and food sectors where formulations can absorb water from the atmosphere, which in turn can change material properties or cause food spoilage. PMBRC Manager Dr. Niall O’Reilly said: “Over the last decade we have built up significant expertise in the solid-state characterisation of materials used in the pharmaceutical, medical device, food and engineering industries. How these materials behave when they absorb moisture is an important quality attribute and has become an important part of the projects we do. Our new DVS system is exciting because it will allow us to make measurements with organic solvent vapours as well as with water vapour. This is relevant in the pharma sector where solvents are widely used in manufacturing processes. Solvent vapour sorption also allows us to study certain material properties which cannot be done on water vapour sorption systems“.

The Sputter Coating System will be used to apply thin films of conducting materials such as gold or graphite onto surfaces. This will allow the capture of sharper images at high magnifications during electron microscopy.

The Biosafety Cabinet with a CO2 Incubator will be used for mammalian cell culture work in support of research with biopharmaceutical, biotechnology and drug delivery industry partners. The Fluorescence Microscope will also be used in this work for cellular and molecular imaging. “These new acquisitions will greatly strengthen ties with industrial partners on current research projects while opening up new avenues for industrial collaborations in biopharmaceutical, diagnostics, clinical, industrial biotechnology, environmental and the agri-food sectors” said Dr. Edel McNeela, PMBRC Principal Investigator who leads this research programme.

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar TD, said: “This funding invests in some really exciting new technologies, which have the potential to solve some of industry’s, and indeed society’s, biggest challenges. This is the second round of the Scheme this year, we will invest in 61 projects in total over the course of 2021. There’s a big focus on sustainability, with research into new, more easily recyclable plastics for example and using biomass for the creation of new products by the brewing industry. We must back industry and our research teams to take chances and try out different things. There are immense challenges ahead, which require new approaches and fresh thinking. The very best of luck to all those who have been successful in this round”.

Gearoid Mooney, Divisional Manager, Research & Innovation at Enterprise Ireland said: “Research and development is vital to the continued success of Irish enterprise and this funding will make another important contribution to our research infrastructure available through Technology Gateways and Technology Centres. The fund will provide industry with access to established research equipment along with more cutting-edge tools. This capital investment, blended with the expertise available in Gateways and Centres, will ensure that Irish industry can explore and seize opportunities in rapidly evolving sectors, where innovation is key”.