Tuesday, 30 April 2019

The e-Assessment Association names advanced assessment provider Qpercom as the winner of Best Use of Summative Assessment Award 2019 The e-Assessment Association recently hosted their international award programme, the e-Assessment Awards in London. The association highlights advancements in e-assessment across all sectors and industries. NUI Galway spin out, Qpercom was selected as winner for ‘Best Use of Summative Assessment 2019’. Winners were selected from a group of global assessment providers by a panel of highly experienced, international experts. Summative Assessment examines the outcome of courses and stands between the student and their accreditation. Qpercom’s Observe software solution was created ten years ago at NUI Galway to digitalise the Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) used in healthcare education to assess clinical skills of students. Manual correction and analysis of OSCEs was extremely time consuming and expensive before Observe. In clinical practice, as in aviation, a person may only get one opportunity to make a critical decision. There is no room for error in clinical assessments which qualify tomorrow’s clinicians to deal with life and death. Today, thousands of clinical assessments are measured in universities around the world using Observe. Dr Thomas Kropmans, CEO of Qpercom and Senior Lecturer in Medical Informatics and Education at NUI Galway, said: “We have supplied Observe to universities worldwide for over ten years, with thousands of students and their examiners benefiting from the technology. Receiving the Best Use of Summative Assessment award with international recognition from this calibre of assessment providers is the icing on the cake for us. Qpercom’s advanced assessment solutions provides detailed psychometric analysis. Our work allows educators to make reliable decisions of who should pass or fail. These decisions are backed up by embedding the Standard Error of Measurement, which should be incorporated in any kind of robust assessment. “Observe assesses our future clinicians and nothing is more critical than assessing life and death situations. We incorporate best practices in Quality Assurance in our software. Our mission to advance assessment will continue, and we are grateful for this recognition of the direction of our work by the e-Assessment Association.” Qpercom spun out from the School of Medicine at NUI Galway in 2008. Originally based at the University’s Business and Innovation Centre with a team of seven specialists, Qpercom provides advanced assessment software solutions to universities globally, including the University of Dundee, Karolinska Institute and the National University of Singapore. For more information about Qpercom, visit: www.qpercom.com or follow on Twitter @qpercom. View the e-Assessment Awards highlights, here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2-ZzbsTwVHI&feature=youtu.be -Ends-

Tuesday, 30 April 2019

2019 AtlanTec conference at NUI Galway to feature Design Thinking for Teens, Tech Tag World Championships, the Digital Women’s Forum and more The international line-up of expert speakers has been announced for the AtlanTec 2019 conference at NUI Galway on Thursday, 30 May. Now in its fifth year, the conference is a cornerstone of the AtlanTec Festival organised by the non-profit IT Association Galway (ITAG). This year’s conference title is ‘The art of artificial intelligence and machine learning, new paradigm or false dawn?’ The event will combine futuristic thinking, real-life case examples, and deep-dives into technologies and trends. Over 400 business leaders, expert software developers, and technologists are expected to attend the day-long conference. Dynamic keynote talks and panel discussions will feature futurist Denis Rivin, IBM expert Steve Tolle, medical innovator Catharine Bowman, Ally Watson from Code Like a Girl and Microsoft’s Gary Short. Three afternoon parallel sessions will cover Artificial Intelligence (AI) Implementation, Tools and Techniques and the MedTech AI Revolution. Caroline Cawley, CEO of ITAG, says: “Great minds are attracted by the AtlanTec conference’s growing popularity year on year, and by the region’s worldwide IT reputation. We are delighted to welcome such excellent speakers and delegates. The conference will be the endnote to the AtlanTec Festival which kicked off in April. Other events include, Design Thinking for Teens, Music Technology with the Swansea Laptop Orchestra, Tech Tag World Championships, the Digital Women’s Forum Afternoon Tea and a series of schools events for secondary school students and STEAM Inspiration.”  Ireland is at the heart of ICT (Information and Communications Technology) in Europe, with eight of the top ten global software companies based here. The industry employs over 37,000 people and generates €35 billion in exports annually.  David Murphy, Director of Knowledge Transfer and Innovation at NUI Galway’s Innovation Office, said: “The west of Ireland has a range of strong, vibrant technology companies operating in an innovation ecosystem which is supported by world-class education, research, and business supports. This ecosystem provides a platform for companies to have global impact from the region whether they are individual entrepreneurs, scaling indigenous companies, or large multinational corporations.”  For further details on the conference visit: http://atlantec.ie/atlantec-conference/ and follow on Twitter @atlantecfest and on Facebook at AtlanTec Festival.  View short AtlanTec video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=76lpiUDG428. -Ends-

Monday, 29 April 2019

NUI Galway students who have taken an entrepreneurial journey recently pitched their ideas for a healthcare solution in the mHealth domain. The programme delivered by LaunchPad, NUI Galway’s student entrepreneurship hub, has trained over 30 student innovators develop novel solutions to real world problems which have the potential for global impact. The programme is funded as part of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) Health which is a network of best-in-class health innovators backed by the EU. The programme focussed on two challenges: supporting those diagnosed with dementia to remain autonomous and independent, and supporting those living a sedentary lifestyle whose health has started to deteriorate. The programme built momentum through an eight week-long series of workshops designed to support students to develop as a team, understand customer discover, design thinking and the lean canvas.  The winning project, Hear Me, is a hearing device designed to assist people with cognitive decline. It has a machine learning aspect to support memory recall, music therapy and voice recognition. The technology adapts and grows with the user.  The winning team were Ross Dempsey, Harshal Deshmukh, Ketan Udaysingh Bhadoriya, Mark Caffery and Hemant Kumar Surouthia with backgrounds in Physics, Business Analytics, Information Systems and Exercise Physiology. The winning team was mentored by Claire O’Sullivan from BioInnovate Ireland.   Second prize was awarded to Zeel, which focused on solving the problem of limited physical activity by individuals who are not motivated and have poor habit-forming techniques. Zeel builds on the human psychology of positive habit-forming, and promotes a healthier lifestyle through real rewards and competitive social interactions. Team Zeel are Joshua Chao, Laura McDermott, Kevin Lee, Paul Walsh and Ciarán McDermott. The team members have backgrounds in Engineering, Science, Business and Medicine. The team was mentored by Dr Robert McEvoy, BioInnovate Ireland. Third prize was awarded to the Unforgettapil team. Market research from dementia care specialists and recently diagnosed patients showed that one problem stood out above the rest; compliance with medication. Unforgettapil tackled this problem through an innovative wearable device which dispenses daily medication. Smart canisters and time-controlled delivery encourages adherence to a medication regime by incorporating it into daily life. Team Unforgettapil include Liezel Ravenscroft, Sarah Murphy, Christopher Patti, Corey Cunningham and Balaji Ayyalusamy Seenivasa Raghavan. The students have backgrounds in Medicine, Engineering and Business Analytics. The team was mentored by Damien Moloney, BioInnovate Ireland. The ultimate goal of EIT Health Campus Entrepreneurship labs is to offer an experiential training programme connecting business, research and innovation with students so they can master the craft of entrepreneurship and innovation through real life cases. NUI Galway is a new site for the EIT Health Campus E-Lab Programme. Natalie Walsh, Executive Director of the programme at NUI Galway said: “We are passionate about our programme expanding and creating new international platforms to showcase our growing student innovation community. The EIT Health E-Lab is an excellent fit for our campus, particularly given NUI Galway’s position as a global hub for MedTech education, training and innovation. Creating these types of opportunities for our students showcase the value of diversity, inclusiveness and team building to innovative practices and having access to world class mentors including our colleagues in BioInnovate Ireland, give students a unique and highly valuable experience.” The top performing teams will travel to Spain in June to represent NUI Galway at the EIT Health Campus E-Lab finals. -Ends-

Tuesday, 23 April 2019

Earth Observation and space innovation-driven entrepreneurs and enterprises in Ireland encouraged to participate in Hackathon led by ICHEC founded at NUI Galway The Irish Centre for High End Computing (ICHEC), has announced Ireland’s first Copernicus Hackathon, aimed at promoting the Earth Observation (EO) services sector across the country. The event takes place throughout the IT building at NUI Galway from 10-12 May 2019. The themes for the Hackathon contest represent areas where there is already significant expertise in Ireland, or significant need. These include digital agriculture, marine environment and security, unmanned aerial vehicles, energy and power, air quality and sustainable/ rural/socially responsible development. Hackathon participants will be challenged to come up with solutions for real-world problems using Copernicus satellite data (Copernicus is the European Earth Observation programme), and will compete for a range of awards, including cash prizes. The winners will be offered a place in the Copernicus Accelerator which offers a customised business development scheme for 50 visionary start-ups and entrepreneurs from Copernicus Participating Countries, the EU, Norway and Iceland, every year. A 30-day residency to develop solutions in the European Space Agency’s innovation-focused Phi Lab in Frascati, Italy is another of the prizes on offer. According to Dr Jenny Hanafin, Senior Earth Observation Scientist at ICHEC, founded at NUI Galway: “The space and Earth Observation ecosystem in Ireland has been developing rapidly in recent years and the first National Space Strategy is about to be published, acknowledging that this field has grown significantly. The strategy also establishes the means to support it with further growth. In Ireland there is a small but growing Earth Observation services sector. “ICHEC has recently launched its *SPÉir platform which aims to make satellite data easily accessible for Irish users, and promotes the use and application of Earth Observation and Copernicus data on a national basis. It’s clear that Ireland has a high level of the skills required to further develop this sector and our aim is that the proposed Hackathon event will help to achieve this.” Dr John Breslin, a Principal Investigator at the Confirm SFI Research Centre for Smart Manufacturing and Senior Lecturer at NUI Galway, says: “Hackathon is an ideal confluence point to bring together those with complementary skills – IT developers and designers, entrepreneurs and domain experts - to create exciting new applications based on Copernicus Earth Observation data and services. Ultimately, post event, we want to see more EO and space innovation-driven enterprises in Ireland, both hardware and software, with application areas ranging from smart manufacturing of new EO/space devices to systems tackling climate change or natural disasters.” According to Breslin, throughout the Hackathon the teams will get the opportunity to test out their initial innovative ideas on others, refine those innovations through a prototype, put a plan in place to take those ideas into a viable commercial proposition, and pitch the entire package to judges. Dr Breslin, added: “It’s important that people who are interested in different aspects of Earth Observation and space entrepreneurship attend the event, including those who like to hack or make things, like developers and designers, those who like to hustle and drive business, sales and growth, and those who bring the much-needed topic-specific expertise and know-how in Earth Observation and space. Remember that a technology innovation is nothing without a customer who wants to pay for it, so it must be a needs-led innovation.” The overall aims of the Hackathon are to raise awareness of commercial opportunities and to generate potential start-up, spawn-out or spinout ideas, and where possible provide support pathways to pre-commercial level for successful participants. A more general aim is to highlight the relevance of Copernicus data beyond the Space and Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sectors, through the publicity generated by the event. Dr Hanafin, added: “To achieve these aims, we have invited a number of organisations to join us as partners for the event. These partners will allow us to leverage a range of skills that will be important in organising a successful, exciting event, promoting it to the relevant people, and supporting successful participants to take their hackathon ideas to the next level. “We are aiming for 50-60 participants to take part, with skills in Earth Observation, Geographic Information Systems, thematic areas like agriculture, marine, drones, data analysis, data visualisation, app development, web service development, graphic design, programming, project management, entrepreneurship and business development. We encourage anyone with any of these skills to register and take part, as it will be an exciting and fulfilling event.” Alongside ICHEC the event partners include TechInnovate at NUI Galway, Baily Labs, UCC Dept. of Geography, the National Centre for Geocomputation at MU, The National Centre for Marine and Renewable Energy (MaREI), the OPW, Teagasc, ESA Phi-Lab, ESA Space Solutions Centre Ireland, Icon Group, GEO University, Údarás na Gaeltachta and The National Digital Research Centre (NDRC). Register at http://tinyurl.com/cophackie and for further information email cophackie@ichec.ie, check out the Copernicus Hackathon Ireland Facebook event page or follow on twitter @CopHackIE. -Ends-

Tuesday, 16 April 2019

NUI Galway students were awarded a bursary of €3,000 to make their idea for a better Ireland a reality at the Pathways to Progress event last week. Their winning project, Understanding Le Chéile, seeks to raise awareness of autism in schools and businesses around Ireland. Understanding Le Chéile is a project that empowers people with autism to deliver information workshops that raise awareness of autism in schools and businesses around Ireland. Now in its second year, the Pathways to Progress initiative is a key element of the partnership between Citi Foundation and Enactus Ireland. The partnership aims to provide resources for students to empower people between the ages of 16 and 24 from disadvantaged urban areas around Ireland. Successful projects receive seed funding, intensive training, mentoring and guidance from Citi volunteers and Enactus Ireland staff. NUI Galway student, Caoimhe Farrell, Academic Leader of Understanding Le Chéile, said: “We continue to strive towards making our goals a reality in ensuring equal treatment for everyone in the academic and corporate settings regardless of their physical, intellectual or emotional abilities.” Ronan Lavin, Corporate Leader of Understanding Le Chéile and NUI Galway student, said: “We hope to pave a way for businesses and schools to encourage, build and nurture environments founded on inclusion, collaboration and respect.”  On this year’s finalists, Ray Kirwan, Senior Compliance Officer from Citi, said: “Citi is delighted to have hosted the final Dragon’s Den pitch, as part of our Pathways to Progress programme with Enactus. The judging panel were all really impressed with the quality of the projects and the work the teams put into them. While the panel found it difficult to select one winning project, Understanding Le Chéile stood out for the impact and empowerment for all involved as well as how it has developed over the last 12 months, with more opportunities to grow in the future. To learn more about Enactus Ireland and the Pathways to Progress initiative visit  www.enactus.ie.    -Ends-

Friday, 12 April 2019

New laboratory will carry out research in disruptive technologies and nature-based solutions for environmental protection and the Irish biobased economy NUI Galway has officially launched a new research laboratory, featuring the latest analytical equipment to characterise biofuels produced from organic waste as well as the microbial communities which produce these fuels. Professor Piet Lens will lead a team of 25 PhD and post-doctoral researchers in the Department of Microbiology at NUI Galway, which includes almost €1 million of advanced analytical equipment, funded through an investment under the Science Foundation Ireland Research Professorship Programme, ‘Innovative Energy Technologies for Bioenergy, Biofuels and a Sustainable Irish Bioeconomy’. Professor Piet Lens is a leading expert in environmental biotechnology and recently joined NUI Galway as an Established Professor of New Energy Technologies at the University’s College of Science and Engineering. Professor Lens and his team are spearheading this major research project to transform waste and wastewater treatment into production processes as part of a circular economy. The project will develop new technologies to produce biobased renewable fuels (such as hydrogen from dairy effluent) that are generated from waste products (such as butanol from spent brewery grains). These can be added to Ireland’s energy mix, supporting the Government’s strategy for an energy self-sufficient Irish bioeconomy. The laboratory performs research on a whole suite of disruptive, high-tech solutions for waste minimisation and material recycling that are already at our disposal, such as anaerobic digesters, a process used for industrial or domestic purposes to manage waste or to produce fuels, that will be developed over the coming years. Besides high-tech solutions, nature-based technologies will also be developed with the aim of tackling socio-environmental challenges such as climate change, water security, water pollution, food security and human health. These pollution control technologies are based on processes as they occur in wetlands and algal ponds. Also, the biomanufacturing of new biobased products such as fertilizers and biocommodities (such as polylactic acid and bioplastic). At the launch, Professor Piet Lens, NUI Galway, commented: “This is a fantastic opportunity for NUI Galway to develop new technologies that transform wastewater and waste into energy and biocommodities. The investment of Science Foundation Ireland in this area is a response to the nation’s Climate Action Plan and ambitions to become a self-sustainable island for energy, where renewable biofuels are generated out of our wastes.”  -Ends- 

Thursday, 4 April 2019

Minister Halligan launched 2019 National IP Protocol, referencing Ireland’s “competitive edge”   Protocol provides a practical framework for businesses to access and use Irish research with a dedicated section on the formation of spin-out companies   NUI Galway spin-out company Loci Orthopaedics shares its spin-out experience with attendees Knowledge Transfer Ireland’s (KTI) national roadshow to present the IP Protocol 2019 to businesses and researchers around the country, arrived in NUI Galway today. The Protocol, which is in its third edition, is produced and managed by Knowledge Transfer Ireland on behalf of the Department of Business, Enterprise & Innovation. It provides a practical, best practice framework for businesses, from start-ups and SMEs to large multi-nationals and entrepreneurs to access and utilise Irish research to drive economic growth.   The Protocol sets a benchmark for good practice in the commercialisation of valuable intellectual property all around the country, on terms that are fair to researchers and business alike, and in ways that are predictable and consistent from one negotiation to the next.   The IP Protocol has been a reference point for business and research communities since it was first produced by the Department in 2012. This new Protocol is an update to the previous IP Protocol published in 2016. Recognising the significant numbers of spin-out companies coming out of research performing organisations around the country, the new Protocol includes a dedicated section on best practice in the formation of spin-out companies.  It also includes a summary of the issues relating to state aid in the commercialisation of research.   Brendan Boland, CEO of Loci Orthopaedics, an NUI Galway-based spin-out company, shared his first-hand experience of growing a spin-out company with attendees at the event: “One in 10 of the general population and one in three women over 55 suffer from thumb base arthritis and through our research with NUI Galway, a hugely innovative implant for the treatment of this condition came into being. With the support of the Innovation Office at the University, we have been able to take this technology and spin out of the lab and onto the path of commercialising it for the benefit of arthritis sufferers around the world.   “I am very pleased that the IP Protocol 2019 includes a new chapter on spin-out company formation which is a great acknowledgement of the importance of university spin-outs in the start-up ecosystem of Ireland and I look forward to sharing some of the highs and lows from our journey so far with attendees at today’s 2019 IP Protocol launch.”   Commenting, Minister Halligan, Minister of State at the Department of Business Enterprise and Innovation and the Department of Education and Skills, said: “The commercialisation of public research to drive innovation and Ireland’s economic competitiveness is a key pillar of the Government’s innovation strategy, Innovation 2020. While investment in research performing organisations the length and breadth of the country is critical, it must go hand in hand with an effective strategy to put that research into the hands of businesses for the benefit of the Irish economy and society. The National IP Protocol is a key element of that strategy.   “In today’s climate, more than ever, it is vital that we harness the considerable abilities of Ireland’s researchers, so as to give businesses the best possible competitive edge on the European and global stage.”   Commenting, Alison Campbell, Director of Knowledge Transfer Ireland, said: “I am delighted to welcome the publication of the new IP Protocol. The new section on spin-out company formation developed in consultation with people operating at the coal-face is particularly welcome and was drafted to address a gap in the framework. The range of practical tools produced by Knowledge Transfer Ireland that are referenced throughout the Protocol and its associated Resource Guide have been expanded. The aim of these tools is to provide relevant resources that demystify knowledge transfer and allow commercialisation and collaboration to flourish, while protecting the interests of all parties and freeing up researchers and businesses to get on with the business of innovating.”   The National IP Protocol 2019 comprises two documents:    1)      the policy document which sets out the framework underpinning research collaboration and access to intellectual property from state-funded research.     2)      the resource guide which provides an overview of the national IP management guidelines and links to a wealth of resources and template documents that support these guidelines. It also provides an overview of the knowledge transfer structures in Ireland and the kinds of agreements that can be used to formalise research-industry engagements and spin-out company-related contracts.   The Protocol is the product of an extensive consultative process facilitated by Knowledge Transfer Ireland with representatives from industry, investors, entrepreneurs, agencies and research organisations to ensure that Government policy supports all types of enterprises engaging with publicly-funded research in Ireland.   For more information or to download the National IP Protocol 2019 visit www.knowledgetransferireland.com/managingIP

Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Minister Bruton Announces US-Ireland tripartite center-to-center research between CÚRAM, Queens University Belfast and North Carolina State University Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Richard Bruton TD, today announced that CÚRAM, the SFI Research Centre for Medical Devices based at NUI Galway, will partner in a tripartite collaboration worth €1.7 million to conduct research into smart cardiovascular repair technologies, through the US-Ireland Research and Development Partnership Programme. The project will be led by Dr Manus Biggs, Lecturer in Biomedical Engineering at NUI Galway, and CÚRAM researcher.   Speaking at a Science Foundation Ireland event in MIT, Boston, in the US, Minister Bruton welcomed the announcement of the US-Ireland Partnership, saying: “Ireland continues to be an excellent location for collaborative research. I am delighted to welcome this US-Ireland partnership which further strengthens the strong and historic relationship between both countries. It is a testament to Ireland’s scientific prowess, that we are working closely with top institutions across the world, generating valuable discoveries and innovations that can benefit societies and economies across the globe.”   The US-Ireland Research and Development Partnership, launched in July 2006, is a unique initiative that aims to increase the level of collaborative Research and Development amongst researchers and industry professionals across three jurisdictions: USA, Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.   This tripartite center-to-center (C2C) research collaboration will be conducted in conjunction with the National Science Foundation-funded centre for Advanced Self-Powered Systems of Integrated Sensors and Technologies (ASSIST), led by North Carolina State University and the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology (CCRCB) at Queens University Belfast. Its’ goal is to use combined expertise in advanced sensor systems, microanalytical systems, biomaterials, energy harvesting, and systems biology to transform current medical interventions and standards of care to research and develop externally-powered implants for continuous cardiovascular health monitoring.   Dr Manus Biggs will lead the research programme in Ireland in conjunction with collaborators Dr Martin O’Halloran and Professor Stewart Walsh at CÚRAM, the SFI Research Centre for Medical Devices based at NUI Galway. Funded by Science Foundation Ireland, CÚRAM’s primary objective is to radically improve health outcomes for patients by developing innovative implantable ‘smart’ medical devices to treat major unmet medical needs.   Commenting on the award, Dr Manus Biggs from CÚRAM at NUI Galway, said:“This US-Ireland R&D Partnership award will facilitate exciting multi-disciplinary research between three centres of excellence in science and engineering. We look forward to working with our partners in the US and Northern Ireland on this critical healthcare need.”   Cardiovascular diseases are one of the leading causes of death globally, resulting in close to 20 million deaths in 2018. However, despite evidence-based medical and pharmacologic advances the management of cardiovascular disease remains challenging, whether in the ambulatory setting where periodic disease monitoring has failed, or in the inpatient setting where readmission rates and morbidity remains high. It is estimated that 90% of cardiovascular diseases are preventable, yet there is an urgent need to develop strategies to reduce hospitalisations and readmission rates.   Rebecca Keiser, head of NSF's Office of International Science and Engineering (OISE), said: “As our global community grows even more interwoven, we are presented with exciting opportunities and new challenges. We know the benefits of global cooperation, and we are proud to have supported some of the breakthroughs those collaborations have inspired. This partnership between the NSF ASSIST ERC, the DfE CCRCB Center, and CURAM SFI Research Centre will work on principles and technologies that are essential to develop revolutionary implantable sensors and monitoring devices to address cardiovascular disease and is an excellent example of the sort of breakthroughs that can come from our trilateral partnership with Science Foundation Ireland and the Department for the Economy.”   Addressing the award, Dr Darragh McArt from QUB, said: “The Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology at Queen’s University Belfast is delighted to be involved is such a significant programme and connected to key partners in Ireland and in the US. Our abilities to harness cutting-edge technologies to monitor and alleviate diseases is paramount to our ambition to offer new paradigms for precision medicine.” Professor Mark Lawler, Chair in Translational Cancer Genomics, QUB, added: “QUB has invested heavily in infrastructure and people to address the big data challenges in health. This programme will employ an innovative patient-centered data driven approach that will improve cardiovascular health and will also have relevance for other diseases.”   The invention of various cardiac sensors based on i.e. electrocardiograph (ECG) and blood pressure monitoring, offers new opportunities in cardiovascular diseases prevention through long-term monitoring of vital physiological signals. Work is currently aimed at improving these devices with a view to making the electronic–biological interface as seamless as possible, providing continuous monitoring of patients following surgery, revealing signs of surgical recovery or disease progression. This allows doctors to record physiological performance and deliver treatment, should the patient require urgent life-saving medical attention. Critically, bio-monitoring approaches that identify the synergy among electrophysiological, biochemical, and mechanical markers have been proposed by Dr Biggs as disruptive technologies for next generation solutions to cardiovascular disease.   Prof Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland, said: “The US-Ireland R&D Partnership Programme is a unique, cross-jurisdiction initiative, which fosters excellent scientific discovery. I congratulate Dr Biggs and his collaborators on this award, which highlights the benefit of scientific collaboration between researchers on the island of Ireland and across the Atlantic.”

Monday, 25 February 2019

NUIGalway and Ward and Burke Construction Ltd completes major international project to tackle wastewater sewer overflows in rivers and estuaries Researchers from the College of Engineering and Informatics at NUI Galway and the Galway-based civil engineering construction contractor Ward and Burke Construction Ltd, have completed a major sewer infrastructure project to tackle ongoing environmental issues associated with combined sewer overflows (CSOs). The partnership recently scooped a major prize for this project; Technical Innovation of the Year Award, at the Engineers Ireland Excellence Awards 2018. The academic-industry partnership was established to design and validate novel structures to alleviate wastewater discharges from combined sewer overflows which is a major source of pollution in rivers and estuaries in Ireland and abroad. This involved the design and build of a major new state-of-the-art model testing facility at NUI Galway, spanning the entire length of the laboratory, which is one of the largest in the country. One of their super sewer designs is currently well underway on the Thames River in London and is expected to reduce the overall project costs by approximately €3.4 million and project delivery time by 25%. (Video of scaled model of combined sewer overflow structure at NUI Galway here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GTH-Xe0171o&feature=youtu.be). Environmental Concerns With populations set to grow by 30% in the next 30 years and climate change resulting in warmer temperatures, more frequent rainfall events and sea level rise, challenges in the water and wastewater engineering sector are greater than ever. Larger populations mean more water usage resulting in larger volumes of wastewater to treat, which in turn means greater costs for wastewater transport, storage and treatment. In addition, increased surface water run-off from the development of new housing and urban areas is being further augmented by climate change impacts of more frequent and intense rainfall and flooding events. Sandwiched between such irrepressible pressures is an already stressed and ageing water and wastewater infrastructure which is calling for innovative measures, leading-edge design and interdisciplinary collaborations between engineers in the field and engineers in research institutes to establish a climate resilient future for our infrastructure and economies. Existing Ageing Wastewater Collection Systems - a 150-year old Technology One of the most pressing environmental concerns for existing wastewater collection systems is their pollution of receiving waterbodies such as rivers and estuaries. One of the chief contributors to this problem is the combined sewer system, a 150-year old technology which was designed to collect and convey both rain water and raw sewage in one pipe. As these pipe systems fill with rain water running off houses and street pavements, these old systems tend to fill quickly and overflow to natural water bodies before reaching treatment plants. In years gone by, this approach was efficient and perhaps even acceptable. However, with ageing infrastructure not designed to cope with the stresses of modern day urban activity, natural watercourses are more frequently experiencing the discharge of raw wastewater from combined sewer overflows after only short spells of rain. Combined sewer overflows are considered by Patrick Decker (CEO of Xylem) to be one of the three major pain points currently in the water industry. Combined Sewer Overflow Structures The solution to this problem is to build so-called combined sewer overflow interception structures. The interception structure functions by capturing the wastewater before it discharges from a combined sewer overflow to the environment and redirects it to a wastewater treatment plant often via deep tunnel conveyance systems. Due to the complex patterns of urban growth combined with existing river systems, no interception structure site is the same and they therefore often require innovative design approaches.  Sean Mulligan, project manager and co-principal investigator from NUI Galway, said: “Unseen to the eyes of the public, raw sewage overflows occur continuously throughout the year. For example, 32 million tonnes of wastewater is released to the river Thames in London, while in the US, three billion tonnes of wastewater is released to rivers through combined sewer overflows annually. The effect is continuous significant damage to a river or estuary’s health, not to mention implications to public wellbeing. Given the ageing condition of these old sewer systems coupled with more stringent discharge regulation, the only solution is to intercept the overflows before discharge to the river and convey them to a treatment plant for cleaning. The research on these structures that our team has undertaken at NUI Galway has a massive impact on our day-to-day lives, that’s what makes it very interesting, challenging and worthwhile.” Michael Ward, director of Ward and Burke and a former NUI Galway graduate, said: “Civil engineering is an art and a science, contractors build infrastructure and train young engineers in the process, universities educate them, collaboration between the practitioners and academics is very productive for both parties. In the long run there is a residual when future students use the apparatus. Great engineers don’t stop learning in practice and smart construction continues to learn first and lasting principals.” Colin O’Neill, a part-time Master’s student at NUI Galway and design engineer at Ward and Burke Construction provided an essential link between academia and industry for this project being involved extensively in the model build and testing. Mr O’Neill adds: “Having an appreciation of the challenges involved in the construction of heavy civil projects from working in the industry, coupled with the skills I learnt from my Masters, was essential for me to work on a research project such as this and help bridge the gap between the industry and research.” With a growing economy and the growing emergence of the ‘smart city’ concept, it is more important than ever to bridge the gap that has developed between laboratory research and engineering in the field. Collaborations such as this between academia and industry are crucial to solving engineering challenges. Eoghan Clifford, co-principal investigator of the project and senior lecturer at NUI Galway said: “This project and indeed, the success at the Engineers Ireland Excellence Awards, shows the need for novel solutions for challenges facing the water sector. In particular, with challenges such as climate change and demographics putting pressure on infrastructure, NUI Galway is delighted to work with innovative Irish companies such as Ward and Burke to design and test solutions to large infrastructural projects. The development of this large scale model shows the way forward for how new, sustainable and cost-effective engineering solutions can be developed and tested against various scenarios that may occur in 50 to 100 years’ time.” NUI Galway lecturer and co-principal investigator, Stephen Nash, added: “The project highlights the importance of having world-class laboratories and researchers. The expertise of our research group and technical support staff and space afforded by our hydraulics lab has led to a number of collaborations with engineering companies like Ward and Burke to assess new technology or test engineering solutions. This type of work helps NUI Galway to provide a first-class teaching experience to its students where they can learn from the real engineering projects that our staff are heavily engaged in.”

Friday, 15 February 2019

NUI Galway student, Edel Browne has been named on the prestigious Forbes ‘30 Under 30’ Europe list for 2019. At 21 years old Edel is the youngest honouree in this year’s Science and Healthcare category. She has recently graduated from NUI Galway with a Bachelor of Science in Biotechnology and is currently an EY Scholar pursuing an MSc in Technology Innovation and Entrepreneurship Development (TechInnovation), at the University. The list features 30 honourees across 10 categories, all of whom are under 30 years old. Among those featured alongside Edel on this year’s list include actor, Daniel Radcliffe; musician, George Ezra and Irish rugby player, Peter O’Mahony. Edel was recognised for her work on a project called Free Feet Medical, a device for people with Parkinson’s disease, which began as a project for the BT Young Scientist Exhibition. She has also participated in the Washington Ireland Program, and has been heavily involved in student entrepreneurship at NUI Galway, where she has acted as Student Entrepreneur in Residence at LaunchPad, NUI Galway’s campus-based entrepreneurship program for the past three years. During her time with LaunchPad, Edel has been supported to develop her Free Feet business which addresses clinical challenge of treating Parkinson’s Disease and to also encourage other budding campus entrepreneurs. Under 30 honourees are judged on leadership and disruption; entrepreneurial mind-set and results; and the likelihood of changing their field over the next half-century. “Four years on from its launch, the 30 Under 30 Europe list continues to be not only the defining measure of success for the region’s next generation of leaders, but also a source of empowerment for all honorees,” said Alex Wood, Europe Editor at Forbes. “We’ve searched throughout Europe to identify 300 of the most revolutionary entrepreneurs, innovators and disruptors in ten diverse sectors, who are changing the game throughout the region and across the globe.” Congratulating Edel NUI Galway President, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh said: “Edel’s selection on this impressive list of ‘30 Under 30’ is a wonderful endorsement of her talent and acumen. Here at her alma mater, we are proud of her achievements and we look forward to her continued success. She stands as an example to all students of how to make a difference ‘in’ the world and ‘for’ the world. Her ingenuity, intellectual curiosity and entrepreneurial skill combine to address the global challenge of Parkinson’s disease. And as an entrepreneur she has inspired and mentored many student innovators here at NUI Galway and far beyond.” Edel said: “It is a huge honour to be included in the Forbes 30U30 this year, since coming to NUI Galway in 2016 I have been hugely supported in every aspect of my journey both academically and through the LaunchPad with Free Feet Medical.  I am thrilled to represent the University and my city on the list.” -Ends-

Thursday, 14 February 2019

Three MedTrain research projects at CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices based at NUI Galway have been selected for inclusion in the European Commission's Innovation Radar as ‘Key Innovators’. The aim of the Innovation Radar platform is to make information about EU-funded innovations from high-quality projects visible and accessible to the public in one place on a new platform. This will show citizens the many excellent technological and scientific advances being delivered by researchers and innovators around Europe, funded on their behalf by the European Commission. This initiative has the support of EU Members States and so far Ministers from 21 countries have signed the Innovation Radar declaration confirming their support for this initiative. Professor Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director at CÚRAM in NUI Galway, said: “The Innovation Radar platform presents a valuable opportunity for our researchers to highlight the potential impact of their work. Making research information accessible to a wide public audience is a core element of the CÚRAM ethos. We welcome the inclusion of three of our research projects in the platform and hope to contribute more widely to the space in future.” The first of the awarded projects is being carried out by Dr Elaine Waters, supervised by Dr Michelle Kilcoyne, and will address the issue of biofilm infections of medical devices which resist antibiotics, causing devices to be replaced, thereby increasing hospital stays. It will develop new tissue-friendly carbohydrate coatings to prevent biofilm infections of implanted devices. The second project, led by Dr James Wilson, supervised by Dr Andreas Heise, will design a flexible, yet strong soft tissue implantable wet adhesive for tissue repair and regeneration. This technology represents the next generation of fully biodegradable bioadhesives with enhanced wet adhesion properties for the development of new clinical materials and advanced approaches in healthcare. The third of the awarded projects is led by Dr Tania Hidalgo Crespo, supervised by Dr Caitriona O’Driscoll, and will develop a novel, safe and effective drug delivery system. Successful delivery of therapeutic levels of siRNA to the brain, using this novel system, will facilitate the treatment of a wide range of neurodegenerative disease such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, depression and brain tumours. The projects are being developed under the Horizon 2020 project MedTrain, a new Industry-Academia Training, Career Development, and Mobility Fellowship Programme in Medical Device Research and Development at CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices based at NUI Galway. MedTrain offers two-year fellowships to experienced researchers in the broad area of Medical Device Research and Development, including: tissue engineering and regenerative medicine, biomaterials and drug delivery, glyco and protein engineering and neuromodulation. Information about each of the three MedTrain projects at CÚRAM included on the platform are accessible to the public via the new Innovation Radar platform, (accessed via a website or a smartphone app - iOS or Android).

Monday, 11 February 2019

Expansion announced by Minister Heather Humphreys, TD and supported by Enterprise Ireland  Irish Technology start-up, Joulica, has today announced a significant expansion of its operations headquartered in Galway, creating 45 new jobs over three years. The jobs form part of Joulica’s growth strategy reinforcing Galway’s position as the driving force of Ireland’s Information and Communication Technology industry. The announcement was made today at Joulica’s headquarters at NUI Galway by Heather Humphreys, Minister for Business, Enterprise, and Innovation, together with Joulica CEO Tony McCormack and Mark Christal, Regional Entrepreneurship Manager at Enterprise Ireland. The development is supported by the Government through Enterprise Ireland’s Research, Development and Innovation Fund. Founded in 2016 and based in the Business Innovation Centre on the campus of NUI Galway, Joulica has grown rapidly and enjoyed strong commercial success based on its expertise in the Customer Experience domain, real-time analytics and cloud-native software development. The high-skill jobs announced today will add 45 to the existing 25 staff currently employed by Joulica. Joulica is seeking experts in software, data analytics and business development to serve new product development opportunities in the US and Europe. Speaking at the announcement, Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys, TD, said: “I am delighted to be here at Joulica’s HQ today to announce 45 new highly-skilled jobs in Galway. This time last year, Joulica had 11 employees. Since then, they have increased that number to 25, and over the next three years, they will increase it again to 70. This wonderful achievement is a testament to the innovation and dedication of the team. Companies like Joulica are vital components of a robust regional economy, something that the Government is committed to supporting. I would like to congratulate Tony McCormack, Joseph Smyth, Diarmuid Leonard and the team at Joulica on this remarkable achievement and wish them every success as their business continues to grow.” Speaking at today’s announcement, Tony McCormack, CEO of Joulica said: “Today marks a significant landmark for Joulica and demonstrates the depth of talent available to innovative technology start-ups establishing R&D centers in Galway city. The success we have enjoyed to-date is a testament to the world-class talent and exceptional skills of the Joulica team, together with the unwavering support provided by Enterprise Ireland, our advisors and mentors.   From its inception, Joulica has been fortunate to work with global customers who are at the forefront of the digital transformation revolution. This opportunity combined with a deep understanding of the requirements that Enterprise customers place on high-scale, resilient software solutions gives Joulica a unique edge when it comes to accelerating innovation in large-scale Enterprises.” Mark Christal, Manager – Regions and Entrepreneurship, Enterprise Ireland said: “Innovation and being competitive is crucial for Irish start-ups to grow and build scale both here and on an international level. It is becoming increasingly clear that businesses are facing uncertainties and challenges that could impact their growth, and Joulica is an excellent example of a company that has stayed on the pulse and identified solutions to allow them to scale in international markets and realise their global ambition. At Enterprise Ireland, we are committed to supporting regionally-based companies like Joulica to plan, innovate and compete and we look forward to continuing our work with Tony and the team on their growth trajectory.”

Monday, 11 February 2019

Funding will support exploring commercial opportunities in ovarian and breast cancer, an autonomous lifeguard and search system, macroalgae health benefits and high blood pressure Five research projects from NUI Galway have received almost €600,000 from Science Foundation Ireland’s Technology Innovation Development Award (TIDA) programme. The programme provides project development funding and training in entrepreneurship skills to third-level researchers. Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys TD, and Minister for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development, John Halligan TD, this week announced €4.5 million in funding for 38 research projects to support the commercialisation of government-funded research. The researchers will demonstrate if their applied research project is technically feasible, and has the potential for further commercial development. NUI Galway Research Projects: Dr Eimear Dolan, Biomedical Engineer, College of Engineering and Informatics – Awarded €129,995 for the ‘ImmunoCell’ project, an implantable device to help immune cells fight ovarian cancer tumours. Professor Michael Madden and Dr Enda Barrett, Information Technology – Awarded €124,367 for the ‘ALIVE (Autonomous LIfeguard and Vision Environment)’ project, an autonomous lifeguard and search system using computer vision and machine learning techniques to accurately detect people in noisy aquatic environments. Dr Adrienne Gorman, Apoptosis Research Centre, School of Natural Sciences – Awarded €128,440 for the ‘RIPK2 inhibitor’ project, validating promising protein inhibitors, as a new therapeutic option in triple negative breast cancer. Professor Mark Johnson, Ryan Institute and School of Natural Sciences – Awarded €123,956 for the ‘Blooms2Feeds+2’ project to develop processed seaweeds for blending into fish feeds in salmon aquaculture. The aim is to generate health benefits in both fish (welfare) and humans (nutrition, through higher salmon quality). Dr Haroon Zafar, College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences – Awarded €91,205 for the ‘Smart Renal Denervation’ project to develop the feasibility of a novel device to provide real-time feedback to clinicians to verify the successful operation of Renal denervation to treat high blood pressure not controlled by medication. Professor Lokesh Joshi, Vice President of Research at NUI Galway, said: “Our university has a great track record in knowledge transfer and research commercialisation. Our five new projects demonstrate this drive to maximize the impact of ideas and technology generated by our research. The depth and breadth of innovative technologies reflect the strengths of our region such as ICT, MedTech and marine.” Speaking of the awards, Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys TD, said: “I am delighted to announce the recipients of the SFI TIDA Awards and commercialisation support for 38 research projects. The programme is aligned with a number of key Government strategies including Innovation 2020, the National Policy Statement on Entrepreneurship in Ireland and Project Ireland 2040. It will develop important entrepreneurship skills and commercialisation capabilities, ensuring Ireland maintains its position as a leader in cutting-edge research.” Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland said: “Science Foundation Ireland is committed to investing in the translation of world-class research from the laboratory to market. A key objective is to increase the number and quality of discoveries that have strong economic impact potential, that can secure follow-on public or private investment. The TIDA programme plays a key role in this process by providing funding to develop technologies, as well as fostering entrepreneurship skills among our research community.” Researchers funded through the TIDA programme will also participate in the new SFI Spark Pre-Accelerator, which is an intensive five-day programme delivered by the DCU Ryan Academy for Entrepreneurs. This will support STEM researchers to develop skills in areas such as evidence-based entrepreneurship, innovation and design thinking and facilitates mentoring and networking.  

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

A new wave of Medtech companies supported by NUI Galway’s BioExel programme, Ireland’s first Medtech accelerator continues following the success of 2018 cohort Following on from the success of the inaugural 2018 NUI Galway BioExel programme, a second successful recruitment campaign was completed last December. A high calibre of applications were reviewed from across the globe and the final eight companies are now immersed in the 2019 BioExel accelerator programme.  BioExel offers €95,000 in seed funding to successful applicants along with six-months of intensive training, mentoring, lab space and supported interactions with potential investors. The programme allows participants to build and commercially validate their technologies by working with existing entrepreneurial networks, mentors and management team. BioExel is managed by MedTech Director, Dr Sandra Ganly, also a co-founder of BioInnovate Ireland and Senior Research Fellow in NUI Galway, and Fiona Neary, Commercial Director and co-founder of BioExel, and Innovation Operations Manager at NUI Galway. Fiona Neary at NUI Galway, said: “BioExel’s mission is to act as an honest broker between Medtech start-ups and the investment community bridging the gap between technology de-risking and raising investment. BioExel has positioned itself as an internationally recognised Medtech accelerator with the reputation of significantly enhancing indigenous Medtech start-ups by providing attractive seed investment funding and a pipeline of next generation Medtech start-up’s for Ireland.” Joe Healy, HPSU Divisional Manager, Enterprise Ireland, said: “Ireland has a growing reputation in MedTech start-ups and the west of Ireland is renowned globally as a top medical device cluster. The sector is an important contributor to our economic growth and BioExel is uniquely positioned to provide essential support for the new innovative start-ups in this sector. We are delighted to continue our support for the programme, and the companies who take part as they take their first steps towards building scale and expanding their reach.” Joined by the funding partners last month at NUI Galway, the programme officially launched the new cohort of BioExel 2019 and enabled a great working session where partners and participants came together to share experiences and business opportunities. BioExel 2019 Companies: Áine Behan and Fred Herrera, CortechsConnect Ltd, an Irish based company developing a non-pharmacological Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) intervention. Visit: cortechs.ie Declan Trumble, Kudos Health, an Irish based company developing a Health and Wellness engagement platform. Visit: kudoshealth.com Idicula Mathew, Hera Health Solutions, a US based company developing a Biodegradable Female Contraceptive Implant. Visit: hearahealthsolutions.com Chris Duke and Michael Newell, Lifestyle Medical, an Irish based company developing Knee kinematics performance and rehabilitation technology. Liam McMorrow, Adelie Health, a UK technology and new Irish start-up, developing an innovative Smart Insulin Pen. Visit: adeliehealth.com Blaine Doyle, Glow Dx, an Irish company with an export market in place developing an Infectious Disease Diagnostic Platform. Visit: glowdx.com Rory Clerkin and Morris Black, Holywood Medical, an Irish based company developing Migraine prediction assay (predicts the onset of migraine) for preventative medicine in this space. Visit: holywoodmedical.com Damien Kilgannon, Sula Health, an Irish based company developing a solution in the area of Circadian Rhythm (Sleep) Disorder Treatment. Visit: sulahealth.com This new cohort of companies will take part in the BioExel accelerator programme until June 2019, preparing them to be investor ready or to have investment in place. BioExel is a partnership programme funded by Enterprise Ireland, Western Development Commission, Galway University Foundation, Bank of Ireland Seed and Early Stage Equity Fund, and hosted by NUI Galway. For additional information please contact the BioExel team at bioexelinfo@nuigalway.ie or phone 087 6226240 or visit:  www.bioexel.ie. -Ends-

Monday, 28 January 2019

CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices based at NUI Galway will be involved in three key industry projects worth almost €5 million (€4.8 million) following the recent announcement of the Government’s Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund. CÚRAM teams, in collaboration with industry partners, will be driving disruptive innovation on the key areas of medtech and connected health. Professor Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director at CÚRAM in NUI Galway, said: “This funding of €4.8 million to CÚRAM research labs is a strong recognition of our pivotal role in the development of the next generation of medical devices and implants that target chronic illnesses. This funding is also a reflection of the close collaborative relationship we have with key industry partners with whom we will continue to work closely with on the development of these disruptive technology projects.” Partnered with industry, the AURIGEN project will see €5.9 million being invested in a solution for persistent Atrial fibrillation of the heart. Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common heart rhythm disturbance in the US and Europe, significantly affecting the lives of those afflicted, causing symptoms that range from palpitations to fatigue, weakness and activity intolerance, and substantially increasing the risks of stroke, congestive heart failure, dementia and death. The consortium of AuriGen Medical (a BioInnovate Ireland spin out based at NUI Galway), the Translational Medical Device (TMD) Lab at NUI Galway and Tyndall, UCC have unique experience, expertise and proprietary technologies, which place this group in an unprecedented position to deliver a uniquely effective therapy capable of addressing both the stroke and arrhythmia risk associated with Atrial fibrillation.  The second project also sees the TMD-Lab partnering on the SMART CARDIO research project with AtriAN Medical who are also based at NUI Galway. The team will seek to develop and optimise ablation technologies for the minimally invasive treatment of particular cardiac disorders.   Dr Martin O’Halloran, Director of the TMD-Lab at NUI Galway, said: “These exciting research projects with a combined value to the TMD-Lab of almost €2 million are further evidence of NUI Galway establishing itself as a world-leader in ablation medical technology. The funding will bring an additional 10 senior post-doctoral ablation engineers to Galway, and in collaboration with our industry partners, will drive significant employment in the sector. The research will draw on expertise from both Engineering (Dr Adnan Elahi) and Medicine (Dr Atif Shahzad and Dr Leo Quinlan) from NUI Galway to deliver these disruptive technologies.” The third project, ARDENT II will create a new therapy for patients suffering from rhinitis, an inflammatory disease which presents as nasal congestion, rhinorrhoea, sneezing and nasal itching. Congestion and rhinorrhoea are the two most impactful symptoms on a patient’s quality of life, which are usually present lifelong. Affecting tens of millions of patients worldwide, an effective treatment does not exist for moderate or severe suffers, creating a multi-billion-euro opportunity for disruptive technologies. A consortium of Neurent Medical Ltd (a BioInnovate Ireland spin out) and the Biggs lab at CÚRAM will benefit from the €2.8 million in Disruptive Technologies Innovation Funding which will be invested in the development of a new medical device technology, to address this inflammatory nasal condition through an innovative neuromodulation approach. Dr Manus Biggs from CÚRAM at NUI Galway, said: “We are excited to work with Neurent Medical on the development of a novel approach to a significant global medical challenge. The commitment of the Irish government to the development of forward thinking disruptive technologies has the potential to place Ireland at the forefront of biomedical engineering research and development.” The Government’s Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund, setup as part of the Project Ireland 2040 capital investment plan, aims to provide finance to projects that tackle national and global challenges in a way that will create and secure jobs into the future. -Ends-

Thursday, 24 January 2019

NUI Galway has been awarded almost €420,000 in funding for developing new technology for faster clinical detection and diagnosis of bacterial infections such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a key cause of mortality in Cystic Fibrosis patients. Dr Joseph Byrne from NUI Galway received his award as part of a government investment of €10.8 million in Irish research funding through Science Foundation Ireland’s (SFI) Starting Investigator Research Grant (SIRG), announced by Minister of State for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection, Pat Breen TD. With awards ranging from €376,000 to €425,000 over four years, the projects funded will support 20 researchers and a further 20 PhD students in the research areas of health, energy, environment, materials and technology. Many disease-causing bacteria produce proteins, which are known to interact with sugar molecules. These interactions will allow the design of useful sensors. Dr Byrne’s research will develop novel devices that will indicate the presence of specific bacteria through colour changes, caused by the interactions of their proteins with laboratory-produced sugar-based chemical compounds on the surface of newly-designed materials. This will provide a convenient visual strategy to identify disease-causing bacteria. 3D-printing will be used to create these compact diagnostic devices, which will benefit patient outcomes and quality of life. This new technology could also be deployed in other scenarios such as detecting bacterial contamination of water supplies. Speaking about his funding award, Dr Joseph Byrne from NUI Galway, said: “Rapid diagnosis of bacteria is vital to inform appropriate medical treatment strategies and combat increasing antibiotic resistance globally. By providing a new methodology for rapid diagnosis of bacterial infection, my work will facilitate quicker decision-making on targeted medical treatment strategies for patients. In Ireland this would be particularly valuable for rapid diagnosis of Pseudomonas aeruginosa infections, a significant risk factor for cystic fibrosis patients (as well as others with compromised immune systems). More generally, helping clinicians avoid the use of broad-spectrum antibiotics would help combat the global challenge of increased antibiotic resistance.”    Speaking about the awards, Minister Breen said: “I am delighted to announce these SFI Starting Investigator Awards which allow researchers to advance their work and further develop their careers as the next research leaders in Ireland and internationally. These innovative projects demonstrate the impressive cutting-edge research taking place across Ireland, which has significant potential to positively advance Ireland’s economy and society, and further solidify its reputation as a world-leader in scientific advancements.” Welcoming the announcement, Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland, said: “Science Foundation Ireland supports researchers at every stage of their careers. The SIRG awards help early-career researchers develop the essential skills and experience necessary to lead Ireland’s future research in areas such as health, energy, materials and technology. Having passed through a rigorous competitive international merit review process, these projects continue to advance Ireland’s international research. A native of Newbridge, Co. Kildare, Dr Joseph Byrne joins the School of Chemistry and CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices at NUI Galway, following a Marie Curie Research Fellowship at Universität Bern, Switzerland. His main research focus is developing new technology for faster clinical diagnosis of bacterial infections by exploiting interactions between biomolecules and the innovative sensor materials, which will be designed during the course of this SIRG project. The research will be multidisciplinary, building on fundamental chemistry and biochemical interactions to develop diagnostic devices using 3D-printing technology.

Wednesday, 23 January 2019

Study Finds Wearable Electronic Device May Reduce Mobility Issues in Parkinson’s Disease Wednesday, 23 January, 2018: Engineers and scientists at NUI Galway in collaboration with clinical professionals from NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC) have carried out a clinical study which has produced promising results for people with Parkinson’s disease with mobility issues. The research found that ‘fixed’ rhythmic sensory electrical stimulation (sES) designed to prevent Freezing of Gait (movement abnormality), significantly reduced the time taken for a person with Parkinson’s disease to complete a walking task and the number of ‘Freezing of Gait’ episodes which occurred, helping them to walk more effectively. The study involved a group of people with Parkinson’s testing how effective the sES electronic device was in helping them to manage this debilitating motor symptom of Parkinson’s disease. The findings of the study were published in the Journal of Healthcare Engineering. Professor Gearóid Ó Laighin and the research team from the Human Movement Laboratory in CÚRAM at NUI Galway have a programme of research developing a suite of unobtrusive, wearable electronic devices to help manage this debilitating motor symptom of Parkinson’s disease. As part of this work, the project team have developed a novel wearable electronic device worn around the waist, called ‘cueStim’, designed to prevent or relieve Freezing of Gait, commonly described by people with Parkinson’s, as a feeling as if their feet are stuck or glued to the floor preventing them from moving forward. The condition gained prominence recently when Billy Connolly spoke of his fear of being unable to move freely on stage in his documentary Made in Scotland. Speaking candidly about the abnormality, the much loved comedian said: “I didn’t know how standing there would feel...I discovered that I got kinda rooted to the spot and became afraid to move. Instead of going away to the front of the stage and prowling along the front the way I used to do I stood where I was.” NUI Galway Co-investigator, Dr. Leo Quinlan, from Physiology in the School of Medicine at NUI Galway, said: “These results are very encouraging as they show that cueStim reduced Freezing of Gait episodes and the time to complete a walking task in an independent clinical assessment with a pilot home-based study carried out by NHSGGC.” Professor Gearóid Ó Laighin, said: “We are now seeking additional clinical partners to work with NUI Galway in carrying out a comprehensive long-term clinical evaluation of cueStim in enhancing the quality of life of people with Parkinson’s disease through a funded programme of research.” The clinical study was designed by Dr Anne-Louise Cunnington, Consultant Geriatrician and Ms Lois Rosenthal, Movement Disorder Specialist and Highly Specialised Physiotherapist, both from NHSGGC, and involved the participants completing a home based self-identified walking  Ms Lois Rosenthal, NHSGGC, said: “Freezing of gait is one of the most frustrating and difficult symptoms for patients to suffer and specialists to treat. This common feature of Parkinson’s is not improved by Parkinson’s medications, and is inconsistently responsive to cueing techniques trialled by physiotherapists. This collaboration between NUI Galway and NHSGGC explored a novel intervention and results were very encouraging. We now need a larger scale study to further evaluate effectiveness and real-life practicality.” The cueStim system was developed by Dean Sweeney as part of his PhD studies in the Discipline of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at NUI Galway. The results provide evidence that sensory electrical stimulation cueing delivered in a “fixed” rhythmic manner has the potential to be an effective cueing mechanism for Freezing of Gait prevention. The study was jointly funded by Science Foundation Ireland and the Framework 7 programme of the European Commission and was carried out in collaboration with Stobhill Hospital and Glasgow Royal Infirmary within NHSGGC. To read the full study in the Journal of Healthcare Engineering, visit: https://www.hindawi.com/journals/jhe/2018/4684925/.

Friday, 21 December 2018

In a very successful year for innovation during 2018, NUI Galway start-ups secured €35 million between private equity investment and research funding while the 36 companies based at the University’s Business Innovation Centre now employ 173 people, which represents an increase of 20% over 2017. The year also saw NUI Galway sign over 60 project agreements with industry (Irish SME’s and multinationals) contributing across a wide range of areas including: advanced healthcare diagnostics and device, additive manufacturing, food nutrition, energy optimisation, and Internet of Things enabled solutions. Over 2,200 staff and students were actively engaged through the University’s entrepreneurship experiential learning and mentorship programmes to produce projects ranging from storybook development and publishing to apps designed to aid people with disabilities find more accessible parking facilities close to their location. David Murphy, Director of NUI Galway’s Business Innovation Centre, commented: “We have a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem among our students and staff which we support through a range of commercialisation, experiential learning, and support programmes. There are significant benefits to society and the economy from the innovations that are seeded, researched, developed and implemented right here on campus. The number of start-ups and industry collaborations based on high-quality research is a very good indication of the level of entrepreneurism at the University and in the region.” Supporting Start-Ups and Industry The recent government announcement on the Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund (DTIF), part of Project Ireland 2040, saw NUI Galway participate on eight projects. Five NUI Galway start-ups were supported through DTIF with a total of €16 million in funding. These companies were AuriGen Medical, Neurent Medical, Onkimmune, Atrian Medical, and Signum Surgical. Three of the companies had come through the BioInnovate Ireland programme which is based at NUI Galway and is creating a wave of new companies finding solutions for unmet medical needs. NUI Galway won a special recognition award in the Knowledge Transfer Ireland Impact Awards in May 2018 for its work with BioInnovate Ireland. 2018 also saw the first cohort of six companies complete the BioExel MedTech Accelerator programme in June while a new cohort of eight companies started in December. BioExel is a partnership funded by Enterprise Ireland, Galway University Foundation, the Western Development Commission and Bank of Ireland Seed and Early Stage Equity Fund, originated and delivered by an experienced MedTech team at NUI Galway.  The first cohort of companies in BioExel were: BioProbe Diagnostics, Bluedrop Medical, Giant Leap Biotechnology, Hidramed Solutions, Immunogrow and CompanionQMS.  Supporting Students and Staff Among NUI Galway staff, students and alumni, new ideas and entrepreneurship is encouraged and supported at every level. The EXPLORE programme is where staff and students collaborate on innovative ideas. In 2018 it supported 15 new projects, involving 61 staff and 42 students. Current projects focus on a variety of topics including Frankenstein, bat boxes, modernist studies and ‘fake news’ surrounding cancer and its risk factors. NUI Galway’s Blackstone LaunchPad supports entrepreneurship across campus. Last April, in partnership with BioInnovate Ireland, BioExel, Health Innovation Hub and the Translational Medical Device Lab, Blackstone LaunchPad held its annual MedTech start-up competition (MIDAS). This one-day multidisciplinary competition brought together undergraduate and postgraduate students to work on an unmet clinical need and present potential solutions to a panel of judges in the MedTech space. The day was hugely successful with a team of students mentored by Barry McCann, a BioInnovate Ireland Fellow, taking home first prize. In November, two NUI Galway start-up companies travelled to the US to take part in a TechStars Bootcamp programme. NUI Galway was represented by BioInnovate Ireland spin- out Nua Surgical with their project SteriCision and BladeComp, a spin-out project of the SFI MaREI centre based in the College of Engineering and Informatics. Jacinta Thornton, Associate Director of NUI Galway’s Innovation Office, added: “Our University puts a strong focus on knowledge transfer, entrepreneurship, and enterprise collaboration to maximise the impact of our research and our expertise for the region.” For more information about NUI Galway’s Business Innovation Centre, visit: http://www.nuigalway.ie/innovation/business-innovation-centre/ -Ends-

Tuesday, 18 December 2018

Farmeye turns the sod on a new era in sustainable agriculture Agri-Tech company Farmeye has launched their new Nutrient Management System, the NMP Portal. The online, map-based system, for sustainable soil nutrient management is a tool for Agri-consultants and Agronomists to manage and monitor sustainable fertiliser usage on farms. Farmeye, an NUI Galway spin out company, aim to create 10 new direct jobs and additional spin-out business with their growth over the next three years. Enterprise Ireland funded the company’s initial development work at NUI Galway through a Commercialisation Fund programme. The Commercialisation Fund programme is co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund under Ireland’s European Union Structural and Investment Funds Programme 2014-2020. Company CEO, Dr Eoghan Finneran explained the Farmeye mission: “A huge amount of data is collected on farms and much of that is either lost or misused. For example, half a million soil tests have been taken over the past 10 years and the vast majority of those reports are buried in biscuit tins or lie forgotten in filing cabinets.” Roscommon native, Dr Finneran continued: “Farmeye provide digital solutions to capture that data and put it to work in a practical, usable manner for the soils, for the farmer and for the environment. We in Ireland have a good news story to tell the world about the sustainability of our grass-fed meat and dairy produce, but without efficient management of farm-level data that story gets lost.” Asked what the technology can do for the farmer, Dr Finneran responded: “The Farmeye NMP Portal provides the first digital step to demonstrate sustainable soil management and quantify carbon sequestration. The average Irish dairy farmer could lose €9,000 per year in lost productivity and extra fertiliser bills, solely due to sub-optimal soil fertility. Farmeye provide simple, easy-to-use tools that allow the farmer to make efficient, data-driven decisions on the hoof when it comes to efficient fertiliser and slurry management.” Joe Desbonnet, company CTO and Software Engineer explains how GPS and barcoding formed the basis of the Farmeye SoilMate app. This Android app allows the Agri-consultant to trace every soil test by GPS to the field of origin. It cuts out much of the manual data entry and human error involved in soil sampling and drawing up an NMP. Because we are employing various GIS map layers, including European Sentinel satellite and real-time weather data on our system, we can easily identify regions and periods of high risk for groundwater pollution.” The Farmeye NMP Portal has been approved by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine as an alternative to the Teagasc system for preparation of compliance based Nutrient Management Plans such as derogation plans. This means that Independent Agricultural Consultants can now use Farmeye to prepare 2019 NMPs and fertiliser plans for Nitrates derogation farms, of which there are over 7,000 in Ireland. Company Co-Founder and Business Manager, Brendan Allen added that while the soil management technology is core to the Farmeye business at present, that the Agri-Tech company has broader aims in the medium term. Mr Allen said: “Soil management is just the first step in this process. We have a development plan in Farmeye to become the foremost provider of IT for monitoring and managing sustainability metrics at farm level. And sustainability of our food production is about more than just environmental sustainability. Social and economic sustainability are the other two legs on the sustainability stool and without any of the three, the whole system falls down. For example, increasing farmer age and declining farm incomes across Europe are unsustainable. The key to ensuring a secure and sustainable food supply for the next generation is to put these tools on the farm, to measure these metrics and then take steps to address the weakness in the system, whether that be in nutrient management or food supply-chain management.” Farmeye is also co-funded by the National Digital Research Centre and the NUI Galway start-up phase was funded through the Enterprise Ireland Commercialisation Fund. Those involved during the NUI Galway phase included Dr Chaosheng Zhang, School of Geography and Archaeology, and Dr Michael Schukat and Dr Hugh Melvin from the Department of Information and Technology. For more information about Farmeye email info@farmeye.ie or visit: www.farmeye.ie -Ends-

Monday, 17 December 2018

NUI Galway start-up NUA Surgical has been selected to take part in the inaugural LaunchPad Lift Powered by Techstars programme. LaunchPad Lift identifies top-performing university start-ups from across the LaunchPad global network of 20 universities, and pairs them with resources and opportunities to help their ventures succeed. LaunchPad Lift will help bridge the gap between the programming available on each University campus and the next big steps ventures need for their companies and is part of a suite of entrepreneurial programmes offered at NUI Galway. Whether the ventures are planning to apply to an accelerator program, raise capital, or make their first hire, LaunchPad Lift takes ventures through a personalised 10-week experience with an assigned Techstars mentor to help them succeed. NUA Surgical is the only Irish start-up and one of only seven ventures selected through a highly competitive process. As part of the LaunchPad Lift programme, NUA Surgical will receive a $10,000 prize from the Blackstone Charitable Foundation to support strategic efforts that grow and scale their ventures. The seven selected ventures for the 2019 cohort were chosen from across the LaunchPad global network, representing seven schools in four states and two countries. Additionally, over 50% of the start-ups in the 2019 LaunchPad Lift cohort have diverse founding teams. NUA Surgical are developing Stericision, a novel medical device in obstetrics to make caesarean delivery a safer and more superior surgery. The project has received significant support and funding from Enterprise Ireland through the Commercialisation Fund which will assist the team in taking the unmet need from idea through to concept and design development, in preparation for establishing a new MedTech start-up company. NUA Surgical’s founding story began when Barry McCann pursued an unmet clinical need identified during the clinical immersion stage of BioInnovate Ireland where Barry was completing a Fellowship in 2017/2018. Now joined by technical lead Padraig Maher and design control lead Marie Therese Maher, the team have over 50 years combined industry experience, bringing a wealth of knowledge to the project which is based in NUI Galway. Natalie Walsh, Executive Director of LaunchPad NUI Galway, said: “For NUI Galway to be chosen as one of only seven sites to take part in the LaunchPad Lift programme, it further endorses our campus commitment to positive impact in the areas of innovation and entrepreneurship. It has been fantastic to work with Barry and his team, the Bioinnovate programme and our broader ecosystem to support entrepreneurship and enhance NUI Galway’s position as a catalyst for innovation regionally, nationally and globally.”   David Cohen, Co-CEO of Techstars, added: “Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars offers campus start-ups valuable on-campus support during a critical time in their entrepreneurial journey. LaunchPad Lift will take this a step further – dedicating additional targeted support to a cohort of the most promising ventures. Techstars wants to be a worldwide network that helps entrepreneurs succeed from inspiration to IPO and we recognise the importance of early guidance.” Amy Stursberg, Executive Director of the Blackstone Charitable Foundation, commented: “I am inspired by the diversity and potential of these entrepreneurs.  LaunchPad Lift, leveraging the expertise of Techstars and Blackstone, will provide an additional boost in their development as entrepreneurs.  Over the past decade of helping the next generation of entrepreneurs launch and grow businesses, we know that mentorship and targeted support is crucial at this stage of venture growth.  Through LaunchPad Lift, we will be able to supercharge campus ventures in a measurable way. ” LaunchPad Lift will run for 10 weeks, from January 28 through April 1, 2019. Upon completion of the program, each participating venture joins the Blackstone Charitable Foundation and Techstars team at a closing event in New York City. The programme at NUI Galway is funded by NUI Galway, Galway University Foundation and Blackstone Charitable Foundation. -Ends-

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

NUI Galway students and staff recently gathered to celebrate the achievements of the Galway Energy-Efficient Car (the Geec) and in particular to mark its Technical Innovation Award win at SEM Europe 2018. For five years running, the Geec has offered a vision of cleaner transport, and it is now established in the international top tier for energy-saving motoring. The car is designed, built and tested by NUI Galway students from Mechanical, Electrical and Electronic, Electronic and Computer, and Energy Systems Engineering. Engineering students develop the car as part of their engineering studies, and also devote considerable free time to their creation. Every year since 2015 they have competed in Shell Eco-marathon Europe, where cars race for efficiency rather than speed. The students have improved the design of the three-wheeled electric car year on year. In 2017, the Geec achieved an energy score of 354 kilometres per kilowatt-hour over a 10-lap, 16 kilometre circuit in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London. This is equivalent to around 10,500 miles per gallon of diesel, or driving from Galway to Dublin for 12 cents, and ranked the NUI Galway team 13th out of 41 competitors. The success didn’t stop there - at SEM Europe 2018, the Geec won the Technical Innovation Award for the unique design of a bodywork feature that covers the wheels, and moves as the car steers, streamlining the car and decreasing air resistance substantially. This year, the team hopes to progress even further. A new team is working on a lighter chassis, upgraded electronics, and fine-tuned drivetrain for the 2019 car, mentored by lecturers in the College of Engineering and Informatics, and supported by the engineering technical staff. President of NUI Galway, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, congratulated all involved, past and present. “This is a great team of students! Our University is proud to have such motivated and dedicated students, whose accomplishments over the past five years have showcased NUI Galway’s internationally-competitive capacities in engineering and our impact in environmental technologies in the world and for the world.  Their talent and ingenuity has been reflected in their success this summer at Shell Eco-marathon Europe and we look forward to further success in the years ahead. With climate change now one of the most pressing challenges facing our planet, the work of finding new energy-efficient transport strategies becomes ever-more important. This is an example of how universities foster the knowledge and talent which can transform our world. Congratulations to our students, supported by the University’s academic, technical and support staff in the College of Engineering and Informatics and the Geec’s industry partners for their pioneering work with the Galway Energy-Efficient Car.” The Geec was sponsored in 2017 and 2018 by the Tony Ryan Trust through Galway University Foundation, Shell E&P Ireland, Jaguar Land Rover, ÉireComposites, MaREI, Blackstone Launchpad, MBW Bike Shop, CADFEM UK & Ireland, Mathworks, OutdoorLiving.ie, Tocana Plastics, Molex, EasyComposites, and Irish Ferries. Check out www.thegeec.ie for more details on one of Ireland’s greatest green innovations. -Ends-

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Two NUI Galway based start-ups are the main winners of 2018 InterTradeIreland competition  Loci Orthopaedics based at NUI Galway have been crowned the overall winner of the 2018 InterTradeIreland Seedcorn Investor Readiness Competition, taking home a cash prize of €100,000 at the grand final held last weekend in Belfast. The team at Loci Orthopaedics, a BioInnovate Ireland spin out located in the Business Innovation Centre at NUI Galway, has developed an implant for the treatment of thumb base joint arthritis. The implant, InDx, is the first of its kind that fully re-creates the natural motions of the joint post implantation. Commenting on their win, CEO and Co-Founder of Loci Orthopaedics, Brendan Boland, said: “It is an absolutely fantastic feeling to win the overall award at the InterTradeIreland Seedcorn 2018 final. The competition has been an incredibly challenging and rewarding experience, and we would like to thank the judges and organisers for the expert advice and constructive feedback provided along the way. The prize money will prove invaluable in supporting our orthopaedic joint implant ‘InDx’ at such a crucial stage in its development and will allow us to invest in securing additional personnel and provide further support for expansion.” The other main winner on the night was HidraMed Solutions also based at NUI Galway, who won the Best New Start Category award and a cash prize of €50,000. HidraMed Solutions was one of the cohorts who completed the 2017-2018 BioExel MedTech Accelerator programme delivered by NUI Galway. Hidramed Solutions has developed a unique wound care solution for people who suffer from Hidradenitis Suppurativa (HS), an inflammatory skin disease that causes draining lesions and non-healing wounds. Business founder, Suzanne Moloney is a HS patient and has spent 5 years researching and developing the product. CEO and Founder of Hidramed Solutions, Suzanne Moloney, NUI Galway, said: “We are thrilled to win the Best New Start Category Award, it is a real honour. The €50,000 cash prize will help us take our proposition to the next level and the entire Seedcorn process has offered us a platform to refine our business plan and our company offering, which has been a hugely beneficial experience for us.” Now in its 16th year, Seedcorn is Ireland’s biggest business competition for innovative new start and early stage businesses in any sector, from any part of the island. As well as a substantial cash prize fund, participants benefit from promotional, business planning workshops and mentorship support throughout the competition.  Congratulating the winners, Ken Nelson MBE, InterTradeIreland Chairman, said: “Seedcorn recognises and nurtures entrepreneurship, innovation and new ventures, and provides young companies - who are at a critical stage of their development - the opportunity to really put their proposition to the test. The quality of the business plans throughout the competition has been of an extremely high standard, and this year’s participants are testament to the innovation and entrepreneurial excellence of small businesses, North and South. I would like to congratulate Loci Orthopaedics and Hidramed Solutions and wish them every success in the future. We look forward to watching our 2018 winners grow and will be following their development with a keen eye.” To date, InterTradeIreland has supported over 2,300 enterprising companies through the Seedcorn process. With €238 million in new equity being raised by the companies which have reached the regional finals stage of the Seedcorn competition over the past 16 years, the competition has a strong track record of supporting early business start-ups to become investor ready. For more information about Loci Orthopaedics, visit: http://www.lociorthopaedics.com and for more information on Hidramed Solutions, visit: www.hidrawearskin.com. -Ends-

Thursday, 4 October 2018

Winners of the Inaugural NUI Galway Explore Innovation Awards 2018 Announced   Creating life-like skin, helping disabled drivers and introducing philosophy to children among winning concepts   Thursday, 4 October, 2018: The winners of a new competition to uncover innovative ideas with significant potential to become a business or social enterprise have been announced by NUI Galway.   The inaugural ‘Explore Innovation Awards’ uncovered some of the most promising and innovative activity on campus. Winning ideas included: creating life-like skin for use by surgical trainees; helping disabled drivers locate parking spots; and introducing philosophy to primary school children.   NUI Galway staff and students attended a special prize-giving ceremony hosted by the University’s Innovation Office where the winners across the two separate categories for staff and students were announced.   In the student awards category: First prize was awarded to Bronwyn Reid McDermott a Masters student in the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences at NUI Galway for her novel innovation “Sutureself’ a simulated skin for advanced surgical trainees. Second prize went to Eoghan Dunne, Eviasmar Almeida and Guilherme Vaz de Melo Trindade, PhD students in the Translational Medical Device Labs in NUI Galway for their project ‘I can see you now’ which seeks to use imaging technology to develop a medical device to improve patient diagnosis for prostate cancer. Third prize was awarded to Aidan Breen, a PhD student in the College of Engineering and Informatics whose social innovation ‘Blue Spots Parking’ aims to help disabled drivers locate accessible parking spots in Ireland. This social innovation project will launch later in 2018.   In the staff awards category: First prize was awarded to Dr Orla Richardson from the Philosophy Discipline at NUI Galway for ‘P4C’. The project works with schools, community groups and organisations that want to think more deeply and effectively, together. Second prize was awarded to researchers Dr Peadar Rooney of CÚRAM, a researcher with CÚRAM, Dr Diana Gaspar of REMODEL, and Joshua Chao of REMEDI. Their project ‘Three Blind Mice’ aims to create Podcasts to promote science communication to non-scientific audiences. Third prize went to Dr Ed Osagie from Insight whose project ‘CDN’ aims to utilise crowd discounts utilising network effect models. Speaking at the event David Murphy, Director of Innovation at NUI Galway said: “The depth and breadth of proposals in these our inaugural Explore Innovation awards shows the diversity and creativity that we have across our campus. These awards give both students and staff the opportunity to flourish and develop their innovative ideas in a supportive, enabling and results driven environment. Over 30 applications to the competition were received and we are delighted to invest close to €10,000 in supporting these early stage ideas. The team will support the students and staff involved through the next stage of their projects.”   NUI Galway has been actively fostering new ideas and supporting over 100 collaborative staff and student projects since 2012 through its EXPLORE programme. EXPLORE is part of a wider innovation ecosystem at NUI Galway, explains David Murphy: “Many of the outputs of NUI Galway’s extensive research portfolio are licensed to industry or leads to a new spin-out company. Our Business Innovation Centre and the wider campus is currently home to over 40 companies, where we provide business supports and excellent facilities including labs and co-working spaces to start-ups. This all feeds into and connects with the wider region, supporting innovation and enterprises here in the west of Ireland.”   For more information about Explore, visit: http://www.nuigalway.ie/explore/   -Ends-

Monday, 19 November 2018

Two NUI Galway start-up companies were in the US recently for the second annual Blackstone LaunchPad Powered by TechStars Bootcamp. The programme brought together entrepreneurial teams from across the US and Ireland to take part in an innovation bootcamp with access to world class mentors and content to further accelerate and develop their businesses.  LaunchPad, based on the NUI Galway campus, is a highly experiential entrepreneurship program open to students, alumni and staff offering coaching, ideation and start up creation support. The programme focuses on innovation and entrepreneurial education and training, entrepreneurship events and community building, and provides supports and funding for early stage student start-up companies. As LaunchPad at NUI Galway continues to globalise its programmes, offerings such as this bootcamp give early stage entrepreneurs access to one of the world’s most well-known and respected entrepreneurship accelerators across the world, Techstars. Techstars is a global leader in the startup ecosystem, providing a network with access to over 1.5 million founders, investors and mentors. Over the course of the New York programme NUI Galway start-ups engaged with a diverse mix of mentors, start-ups and potential investors at SAP Next Gen HQ at Hudson Yard in New York. The programme resulted in Bladecomp and Stericision start-ups benefitting from personalised mentoring, unique Techstars expertise and content and support from business leaders including Jean Case from the Case Foundation. SteriCision is a newly funded Enterprise Ireland project developed from the BioInnovate Ireland Fellowship programme based at NUI Galway. The team are developing an innovative medical device to reduce infection following surgery. Barry McCann, Commercial Lead for the project, commented: “Attending the Blackstone Launchpad powered by Techstars event was a tremendous opportunity for us to grow our mentor network and learn from some of the most successful entrepreneurs and investors in the US. We are extremely fortunate to have an entrepreneurship programme such as Launchpad on campus that can accelerate good ideas and bring them to a global platform.” BladeComp is a wind and tidal turbine blade design software. BladeComp provides a faster, easier and more reliable blade design process. The team includes Dr Jamie Goggins, Dr Edward Fagan, Dr Yadong Jiang and Dr William Finnegan from the MaREI Centre, Ryan Institute at NUI Galway. Needing a faster way of modelling blades and a framework for the novel analysis and design techniques developed at NUI Galway, the team built automated design software to meet this need. The team have recently used BladeComp to design next generation tidal turbine blades (among the largest in the world) for a leading tidal turbine manufacturer, Orbital Marine Power Ltd. Edward Fagan of the BladeComp team, commented: “The Techstars event was a fantastic opportunity to get feedback on what we’ve done so far, and advice on how to effectively take our venture forward. The experience, mentorship and guidance we received was more than we could have hoped for. LaunchPad at NUI Galway provide an invaluable service to the development of entrepreneurs at the University”. Speaking at the LaunchPad Global Bootcamp, Natalie Walsh Executive Director of LaunchPad at NUI Galway, said: “It is always inspiring to work alongside early stage entrepreneurships but to work with TechStars in New York City and watch our start up teams flourish and grow through the supports provided has been amazing. We will have unparalleled access to the TechStars network and content and we are very excited about the future of entrepreneurship at NUI Galway.” -Ends-

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Neurent Medical's RF-based Minimally Invasive Rhinitis Therapy Earns Acclaim from Frost & Sullivan  Frost & Sullivan has recognised Neurent Medical with the 2018 European New Product Innovation Award for developing a non-surgical, minimally invasive device that uses radio frequency (RF) to modulate a nerve group to offer relief from nasal obstruction and rhinorrhea. Neurent is an NUI Galway BioInnovate spin-out and earlier this year announced it had raised €9.3 million in a Series A funding round. The company was established by Brian Shields and David Townley who met through NUI Galway’s BioInnovate Ireland Programme with Enterprise Ireland funding the development work at the University through a Commercialisation Fund programme. 2018 European New Product Innovation AwardWith the total annual avoidable expenditure on the European allergy market, not limited to rhinitis, amounting between $50 billion and $150 billion, even back in 2014, Neurent Medical's out-patient device can help customers achieve significant savings by using RF in a highly targeted manner.  The current clinical gold standard approaches to treating chronic ear, nose, and throat infections range from avoiding various environmental triggers, which provides only temporary relief, to invasive surgery, which often requires lengthy recovery periods. Medications such as antihistamines, decongestants, and topical or systemic corticosteroids have limited patient and physician acceptance because of side effects, such as drowsiness, bleeding, drying, and crusting. In more severe cases, surface cautery of enlarged turbinates is performed as an out-patient procedure; however, side effects include edema and crusting in the nose that can last three weeks or longer. In such a scenario, Neurent Medical's single-use device presents exceptional value as it can be used in office settings, and patients can resume normal activity almost immediately after implantation.  "Neurent Medical has based its rhinitis device on its extensive research on neuronal activity in the nasal cavity and the cellular makeup of the nasal mucosa. These guiding principles have enabled the product to stand out as a low-powered RF treatment that targets the autonomic supply to the nasal turbinates, positively impacting both allergic and non-allergic rhinitis," said Arjunvasun, Industry Analyst at Frost & Sullivan. "The device uses a microelectrode array that is designed to deliver targeted energy to interrupt the autonomic function within mucosal structures of the nasal cavities to reverse inflammatory cascade. The device incorporates an intelligent RF generator to maximize the energy delivery to the intended target, while minimizing collateral damage to the sub-mucosal tissues."  Additionally, the device offers substantial cost savings by eliminating patients' dependence on pharmacotherapies and by requiring only a single out-patient procedure.  "Although the application of RF to treat rhinitis has been evaluated through clinical studies, Neurent Medical has pioneered its application in treating inflammation caused by rhinitis," noted Arjunvasun. "Research conducted at the National University of Ireland, Galway supports the claim that Neurent Medical’s solution is truly a game-changing technology for allergy patients worldwide."  Each year, Frost & Sullivan presents this award to the company that has developed an innovative element in a product by leveraging leading-edge technologies. The award recognises the product’s value-added features/benefits and the increased return on investment (ROI) it provides to customers, which, in turn, raises customer acquisition and overall market penetration potential.  Frost & Sullivan Best Practices Awards recognise companies in a variety of regional and global markets for demonstrating outstanding achievement and superior performance in areas such as leadership, technological innovation, customer service, and strategic product development. Industry analysts compare market participants and measure performance through in-depth interviews, analysis, and extensive secondary research to identify best practices in the industry.   More information is available from the Frost & Sullivan website. 

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

A New Wave of MedTech companies to be supported by NUI Galway’s BioExel programme, Ireland’s first accelerator programme, following the success of initial cohorts Tuesday, 17 July, 2018: Following on from the success of the initial round of BioExel programme applicants at NUI Galway in 2017-2108, the MedTech Accelerator programme is now accepting applications for the second cohort 2018-2019, with recruitment starting from 20 July to 1 September 2018. Based at NUI Galway, BioExel offers €95,000 in seed funding to successful applicants along with six-months of intensive training, mentoring, lab space and supported interactions with potential investors. The programme allows participants to build and commercially validate their technologies by working with existing entrepreneurial networks, mentors and management team. BioExel is managed by MedTech Director, Dr Sandra Ganly, also a co-founder of BioInnovate Ireland and Senior Research Fellow in NUI Galway, and Fiona Neary, Commercial Director and co-founder of BioExel, and Manager of the Business Innovation Centre at NUI Galway. Fiona Neary at NUI Galway, said: “This first cohort of BioExel candidates have an array of innovations that have grown over the months at a rapid pace, de-risking their technologies and advancing in critical areas of MedTech challenges. BioExel is key to transforming these opportunities as we deliver the next generation of investor ready, first class medical technologies to the marketplace.” The first cohort of companies to complete the 2017-2018 BioExel programme joined a showcase and celebration of Ireland’s MedTech ecosystem in Galway recently, attended by Minister for State Seán Kyne.     The six cohort of companies who have completed the BioExel programme 2017-2018: Bioprobe Diagnostics Ltd. Developing diagnostic products in a new regulated generation of water quality testing. Having spun out of NUI Galway in 2017, Bioprobe Diagnostics has developed a ground-breaking technology to quickly detect Legionella bacteria in water. The water-borne bacteria can lead to the life threatening form of pneumonia known as Legionnaires Disease. Bioprobe Diagnostics’ one-step test is five times faster and 30% cheaper in direct costs than what is currently on the market. The company is currently raising funds and getting ready to launch their product in 2019. Bluedrop Medical Ltd. Predicting and preventing diabetic foot ulcers using computer vision, mapping associated complications and costs. Bluedrop Medical has developed a system for early Diabetic Foot Ulcers detection and patient compliance for health care systems. Daily temperature monitoring has been shown to prevent 70% of ulcers in three randomised controlled trials. Bluedrop Medical has incorporated this technology into a novel home based device, and linked it up with an Artificial Intelligence (AI) remote monitoring system to provide actionable alerts to clinicians, enabling early intervention to prevent diabetic foot ulcers. Diabetic foot ulcers result in over 150,000 amputations per year in Europe. Bluedrop Medical has developed a system that can prevent 70% of them. Giant Leap Biotechnology Ltd. Designing a neuro regenerative product using cellular therapies and biomaterials delivery for spinal cord injury. GiantLeap Biotechnology is an Irish company focused on developing a veterinary therapy for spinal cord injury in canines which is estimated to be a $225 million annual market in the US. The technology has been created over a seven year research period by the founder Martin Codyre. GiantLeap Biotechnology is developing a biomaterial implant that will have protected intellectual property that combines with cells taken from the animal and implanted into the injured spinal cord. Hidramed Solutions Ltd. A wound care kit for effective management of chronic wounds, addressing patients’ unmet needs, providing comfort and adhesive free, secure dressing retention. Hidramed Solutions has developed a patentable two-part wound care kit that dramatically improves the wound care routine for patients. Of specific focus are individuals with Hidradenitis Suppurativa, (HS), a chronic debilitating skin disease. The condition is thought to be underdiagnosed and misdiagnosed, with a prevalence rate of 1-4% of the general population. The locations of the lesions makes it difficult for standard dressings to be worn comfortably and the options available are currently ineffective. Hidramed Solutions aim to transform the day-to-day comfort and quality of lives of suffers of Hidradenitis Suppurativa. Immunogrow Ltd. ImmunoGrow’s New Personalised Cancer Therapy aims to simplify production, thereby reducing costs and enhancing patient safety. Adoptive cell transfer is an anti-cancer approach that enhances the natural cancer-fighting ability of the body’s cells by removing immune system cells, growing and/or making changes to them outside of the body, and then re-infusing them back into the patient. ImmunoGrow aim to simplify production, reduce costs and enhance patient safety. Today, complex manufacturing processes limit the potential of cell-based cancer immunotherapies from the bespoke, operator intensive setting of the academic research lab to a commercially viable, good manufacturing practice-compliant environment. Innunogrow has mimicked in vivo (in the body of a living organism) growth conditions for T Cells (a subtype for white blood cells) by replicating the body’s natural growth conditions. This process improves output, reduces significant risk of invalid cell product, simplifies manufacturing requirement for skilled operator input and is easily integrated into automatic cell processing platforms. CompanionQMS Ltd. CompanionQMS is a cloud-enabled, secure, and scalable solution, delivering superior document management, intelligent workflows and reporting tools in one single interface. Developing QMS bespoke quality management software exclusively for medical device companies. Research has proven the need for an easy to implement and use, competitively priced QMS software. CompanionQMS is quality management software designed for medical device companies that provides a solution to this problem. CompanionQMS will enable companies to streamline product development and compliance while setting new standards for ease of use and flexibility of design. The Western region already has a strong MedTech ecosystem and this is actively supported by the expertise and infrastructure at NUI Galway. The University is home to Ireland’s only centre for stem cell manufacturing, extensive translational and clinical facilities, biomedical sciences research laboratories, and the CÚRAM Centre for Research in Medical Devices. This is further strengthened by NUI Galway’s expertise in funding grants, knowledge transfer, and programmes such as BioInnovate and BioExel. BioExel is a partnership programme funded by Enterprise Ireland, Western Development Commission, Galway University Foundation, Bank of Ireland seed and early stage equity fund, and hosted by NUI Galway. To apply please contact the BioExel team for an application form at bioexelinfo@nuigalway.ie or phone 091 493150. For more information, visit: www.bioexel.ie -Ends-

Monday, 9 July 2018

NUI Galway-based medical device spin-out company, Loci Orthopaedics have announced today the closing of a €2.75 million seed round investment to commercialise a new orthopaedic joint implant for a common but crippling joint condition. Loci Orthopaedics is an independent leader in the development of a potentially life-changing, ergonomic, and clinically evidence-based solution to address the increasing unmet clinical need for thumb base joint arthritis. The company is developing the InDx Implant to meet this need and access a market estimated at over €550 million per annum. Arthritis of the thumb base joint causes significant functional impairment of the hand. Those with this condition are either restricted in, or often lose the ability to perform, everyday tasks such as using a mobile phone, turning keys in a door, and even writing due to increasingly severe pain. This unmet clinical need was identified by the co-founders of the company, Dr Brendan Boland a clinician, and Mr Gerry Clarke a medical device industry veteran with over 40 years medical device experience, while they were Fellows on the BioInnovate Ireland Programme, which is co-funded by Enterprise Ireland. During this programme, Brendan and Gerry were based in UCC and undertook several hundred hours of clinical monitoring in Cork University hospitals to identify hundreds of unmet clinical needs, from which the surgical management of thumb base joint arthritis stood out as a particularly significant unmet need with a large affected patient population. Enterprise Ireland funded the development work at NUI Galway through a Commercialisation Fund programme. The Commercialisation Fund programme is co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) under Ireland’s European Union Structural and Investment Funds Programme 2014-2020. 5% of the population suffer severe thumb base arthritis. This equates to over 40 million people in the US and EU with significant symptoms. This condition is most common in those aged over 65. As the population of the US and EU ages, the number affected by this debilitating condition is set to increase dramatically in the next 15 years. There are more than 200,000 surgical procedures carried out each year in the EU and the US combined for severe thumb base arthritis. Due to the lack of a reliable and clinically satisfactory solution, there is a wide gap between symptomatic patients and patients currently progressing to surgery, demonstrating the substantial growth potential for new therapy solutions. The total current total addressable surgical market for thumb base arthritis procedures in the US and EU is estimated at over $600 million per annum. This market size is set to increase further due to several concurrent market growth drivers, such as an aging population, an increase in those most affected, and a lack of tolerance of poor hand function. This funding will provide financing for 24 months and will be used to advance product development in preparation for clinical trials, initiation of US commercialisation, initiation of EU regulatory approval, clinical follow-up and regulatory approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Dr Brendan Boland, Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Loci Orthopaedics, said: “Securing this seed round funding will put Loci Orthopaedics firmly on track to achieve the short and medium-term goals required towards getting this product to market to relieve the daily suffering of many patients.” Mr Gerry Clarke, Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer of Loci Orthopaedics, said: “Thumb base arthritis has a huge impact on the quality of life, and on the independence of patients as they age. Can you imagine having pain on simple day to day tasks such as turning keys in a door, opening a jar, or using your phone? This is the prospect faced by millions of people who are restricted in their daily activities and enjoyment of life. It is these patients we want to help, by bringing the first evidence-based implant design to market for this common but disabling condition.” The Loci Orthopaedics team have been working with three of the world’s leading hand surgeons and have used their most cutting-edge research as the basis for the implant design. These surgeons based in Stanford University, Brown University and KU Leuven in Belgium are key-opinion leaders in this area of orthopaedic medicine. The InDx Implant is the only implant that can fully mimic the natural but complex motions of the thumb joint as it provides two points of rotation that can move both concurrently and independently of each other while enabling the joint to move in all six degrees of freedom. The device is also easier to insert and less invasive than any currently available surgical treatment option for this condition. As a result, the InDx Implant will provide excellent clinical outcomes and decrease the risk of surgical and clinical complications. The device offers an exciting new, patient-sensitive treatment option to patients and surgeons and has been designed in conjunction with three of the world’s leading hand surgeons ensuring all end-user requirements are met. Alan Hobbs, Enterprise Ireland High Potential Start-Up Manager, commented: “Enterprise Ireland is delighted to support Loci Orthopaedics, a High Potential Start-Up driving innovation in medcare. Loci are a great example of a market led innovative company addressing unmet medical needs and a substantial market opportunity. We congratulate them and look forward to continue working with them to achieve their global ambitions.” David Murphy, Director of the Technology Transfer Office in NUI Galway, said: “The founders have strong Intellectual Property and have amassed a world class team around them. We are confident that this combination will enable them to progress quickly in this next phase of their journey. We congratulate Loci Orthopaedics on reaching this important milestone.”  Dr Faisal Sharif, Director of BioInnovate Ireland in NUI Galway, said: “We are delighted to see Loci Orthopaedics close a €2.75 million seed round investment. This funding will enable them to commercialise their InDx Implant device that will considerably improve patients’ lives. This is a significant step in getting this device to those who need it. The mission of BioInnovate Ireland is to grow the indigenous Medtech sector through dedicated training in medical device innovation. BioInnovate Ireland supports fellows to identify unmet needs in different clinical areas through a dedicated fellowship programme which is co-funded by Enterprise Ireland. The success of Loci Orthopaedics signifies the importance of identifying such unmet clinical needs.” Preliminary research indicates that this device design may also have clinical indications in other small joints of the hands and feet, as well as other joints with complex biomechanics such as the shoulder and elbow. The €2.75 million funding is provided by a combination of institutions comprising of: the investment arm of KU Leuven University in Belgium, which was recently ranked by Forbes as Europe’s most innovative university, Enterprise Ireland and the Western Development Commission. These institutions are complemented by some MedTech industry veterans. For more information about Loci Orthopaedics, visit: www.lociorthopaedics.com -Ends-

Monday, 9 July 2018

MaREI secure €4.4 million to support Ireland’s indigenous biomass and bioenergy industry The Research Centre for Marine and Renewable Energy Ireland (MaREI) has secured an additional €4.4 million in funding from Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) and industry partners under the Sustainable Energy and Fuel Efficiency (SEFE) SFI Spokes Programme, to be based at NUI Galway. Speaking at the launch Minister of State at the Department of Rural and Community Development and the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Seán Kyne TD, said: “Climate Action has never been more important to the continued growth and prosperity of our nation as it is now. Ireland has an abundance of natural resources with enormous potential for sustainable energy output, but we need to continue to invest in more efficient technologies for harnessing this potential. I am delighted to see researchers from the SFI Research Centre, MaREI exploring new and innovative technologies to support Ireland’s ambition of meeting national environmental, energy and climate targets, as well as those set by the European Commission.” The Sustainable Energy and Fuel Efficiency research programme led by Professor Henry Curran at NUI Galway and Professor Jerry D Murphy, UCC, leverages the scientific expertise of ten of Ireland’s top academics in bioenergy research across four Universities (NUI Galway, UCC, UL, TCD) and Teagasc. The programme of work will include the technical and commercial expertise of 10 national and international companies. This four-year collaborative programme aims to identify viable routes to increase the efficient utilisation and supply of sustainable energy, and to support Ireland’s ambition to meet National and EU environmental targets. The Sustainable Energy and Fuel Efficiency Spoke, which is affiliated to the Ryan Institute at NUI Galway, and run by MaREI funded researchers, has an ambition of developing new processes, technologies and markets through the co-operation of a number of scientists from various disciplines across a number of institutes and working with 10 innovative companies to support Ireland’s energy transition. Professor Henry Curran from the School of Chemistry and Ryan Institute at NUI Galway, said: “The granting of the Spoke award by SFI and the national and multi-national industry commitment endorses and strengthens the research being undertaken in sustainable energy systems by the participating universities and Teagasc.  I look forward to collaborating on world class research that will underpin the transition to a sustainable, low-carbon future.” Professor Murphy, Director of MaREI and head of the bioenergy research group, stated: “The benefit of the SFI Research Centres has been immense for research and innovation; Ireland now has a one-stop-shop system for research expertise that includes the best researchers across the island, coupled with the most relevant industrial partners. This removes the previous competition between researchers and enhances research impact through multi-disciplinary, multi-institute input into industrially relevant cutting edge work. This partnership will bring together the top academics and industry in bioenergy and biofuels, with an overarching ambition of meeting the national objective of decarbonising energy and facilitating Ireland’s transition to a low carbon technology.” The Spoke research teams will collaborate in developing technologies capable of converting a wide variety of residues and by-products to homogenous energy carriers and optimising performance of internal combustion engines using advanced fuels including biofuel blends. The Spoke work programme will complement existing MaREI activities in the bioenergy sector as well as adding new competencies in the area of advanced thermal treatment, combustion modelling and design. The outputs of the Spoke work programme will contribute in a measurable way toward important EU and national environmental and economic objectives in the areas of energy decarbonisation, wastewater treatment, sustainable transport, resource recovery, clean air and water, rural development and diversification of agriculture. The technologies to be advanced by the SEFE Spoke will address some of the drawbacks associated with Ireland's reliance on imported biofuels and intermittent renewables by improving the efficiency and reducing the carbon intensity of power generation and transport from combustion and boosting the supply of renewable heat, which makes up 41% of Ireland’s energy consumption, as well as meeting sustainable waste management challenges. Professor Brian Ó Gallachóir, Co-Director of MaREI, commented: “I am particularly enthused by the industry support for this project. Our research in MaREI is greatly enriched through the partnership we have with our industry partners. In addition to deepening our collaboration with Gas Networks Ireland, this project enables us to benefit from collaborating with a wide range of new partners including ABP Food Group, Arigna Fuels, Shell and Biomass Heating Systems. This investment will in turn enable these industry partners to harness and benefit from the research and innovation capacity we have in MaREI.” Deputy Director General of Science Foundation Ireland, Dr Ciarán Seoighe welcomed the announcement, saying: “Science Foundation Ireland is delighted to support the Sustainable Energy and Fuel Efficiency Spokes project, which comes at a time when the need for new and innovative means to tackle climate change are sorely needed. The Spokes Programme offers a valuable means for research-active companies to align with any of the 17 SFI Research Centres and utilise the world-renowned expertise and state-of-the-art infrastructure therein. Partnerships such of this support Ireland’s drive towards an environmentally sustainable future and places us at the forefront of renewable energy research.” -Ends-

Thursday, 31 May 2018

Funding raised will create 25 new jobs Neurent Medical Limited, a Galway-based medical device company specialising in the treatment of rhinitis, an inflammatory disease of the nose, has raised €9.3 million in a Series A funding round. The company was previously established by Brian Shields and David Townley who met through NUI Galway’s BioInnovate Ireland Programme with Enterprise Ireland funding the development work at the University through a Commercialisation Fund programme. Neurent Medical Ltd is a medical device company specialising in the Ear Nose and Throat (ENT) market. The company designs and develops products for treating inflammatory diseases of the nasal cavities. The initial product offering reduces the primary symptoms of rhinitis, congestion and rhinorrhoea. This funding will be used to advance product development, carry out clinical trials and prepare for US commercialisation of the device. The investment will also create up to 25 new positions in the company. Neurent Medical Chief Executive, Brian Shields, commented: “We are delighted to announce this investment, which will help us to advance our product development and ultimately get our technology in the hands of Ear Nose and Throat surgeons. Fountain Healthcare Partners, along with other members of our investment syndicate, bring huge experience to Neurent Medical and have a proven track record in the industry. We would also like to take the opportunity to thank Enterprise Ireland for their continued support over the past number of years.” David Murphy, Director of the Technology Transfer Office in NUI Galway, said: “Having supported the development and management of this technology since the team came up with the original concept, we wholeheartedly congratulate Brian and David on securing this investment and wish them well in the next phase of their growth.” During the clinical immersion phase of the BioInnovate Ireland programme, Brian Shields and David Townley spent time with clinicians, nationally and internationally, including NUI Galway’s Professor Ivan Keogh in the Ear Nose and Throat clinics. During this time, they invented a novel device solution to address a large unmet clinical need they observed. In collaboration with Professor Keogh, Professor Peter Dockery, the University’s Chair of Anatomy and Dr Martin O’Halloran from the University’s Translational Medical Device Lab, they carried out early validation of their technology concepts with commercialisation funding from Enterprise Ireland. Dr Faisal Sharif, Director of BioInnovate Ireland in NUI Galway, said: “We are delighted to see Neurent Medical funded for €9.3 million. This is a significant achievement which will enable them to commercialise their clinical device for rhinitis. BioInnovate Ireland supports fellows to identify unmet needs in different clinical areas through a dedicated fellowship programme which was co-funded by Enterprise Ireland. The success of Neurent Medical signifies the importance of identifying such unmet clinical needs.” Rhinitis is an inflammatory disease of the nose and is reported to affect up to 40% of the population, 25% suffering from allergic rhinitis and 15% from non-allergic rhinitis. It is the fifth most common chronic disease in the US and the most common chronic disease in children overall. Rhinitis is associated with direct healthcare costs of up to $15 billion per year in the US, and has a proven major impact on quality of life, cognitive function and decision-making. The illness is associated with decreased work productivity and absenteeism. The novel therapy being developed by Neurent Medical will offer allergic and non-allergic rhinitis patients an alternative, minimally invasive, and more readily accessible treatment to alleviate the two primary symptoms of rhinitis, rhinorrhoea and nasal obstruction. The therapy will enable Ear Nose and Throat surgeons to treat rhinitis patients in an Ear Nose and Throat office setting using only local anaesthesia, removing the complications and costs associated with existing surgical procedures. David Townley, Neurent Medical Chief Technology Officer commented: “We are excited that our latest investment provides an opportunity to expand our internal teams working across both primary and applied research. This is important to inform the company’s technology and product development and deepen our collaborations with leading experts to advance our treatment of rhinitis.” The funding round was led by Fountain Healthcare Partners with participation from Atlantic Bridge Capital, the Western Development Commission, Enterprise Ireland and a syndicate of Irish and US Medical Device veterans. For more information about Neurent Medical, visit: http://www.neurentmedical.com/  -Ends-

Thursday, 28 June 2018

NUI Galway has published its latest figures on Ireland’s Ocean Economy that shows in 2017 the direct economic value of the ocean economy was €1.97 billion representing a 22% increase on 2015 NUI Galway’s Socio-Economic Marine Research Unit (SEMRU) has released its latest update on Ireland’s Ocean Economy as part of their ongoing process of collection and analysis of marine socio-economic data in Ireland. This work has involved revising the previous 2015 estimates with the latest released data for that year from the Central Statistics Office, fisheries and aquaculture data from Bord Iascaigh Mhara, shipping and cruise information from the Irish Maritime Development Office as well as SEMRU’s own survey data with 2017 estimates. The updated figures indicate that in 2017, the direct economic value of Ireland’s ocean economy was an estimated €1.97 billion or approximately 1% of gross domestic product (GDP), which represents a 21% increase on 2015 figures. The 2017 estimates also suggest that our ‘blue economy’ continues to grow at a faster pace than the general economy. Dr Stephen Hynes, Director of SEMRU from the Whitaker Institute for Innovation and Societal Change at NUI Galway, says: “The latest figures indicate that Ireland’s ocean economy continues to see substantial growth across both established and emerging marine industries. While 2016 saw a large increase in activity in the oil and gas industry on the back of the Corrib gas project coming on line, more recent growth in 2017 is being driven by strong performances in the aquaculture, sea fisheries, shipping and marine tourism industries, as well as continued growth in the emerging ocean industries.” Summary for 2017 The ocean economy had a turnover of €5.49 billion in 2017. The indirect economic value in 2017 amounted to €1.75 billion, with a total direct and indirect gross value added (GVA) value of €3.71 billion, which represents 1.85% of GDP. The ocean economy provided employment to over 32,500 individuals, full-time equivalents in 2017.  Established Marine Industries had a turnover of €5.1 billion and provided employment to 30,000 full-time equivalents in 2017, representing 92% of the total turnover and 93% of total employment in Ireland’s ocean economy in 2017. Oil and gas exploration and production, marine aquaculture and tourism and leisure in marine and coastal areas, all experienced a significant increase in activity, with turnover, GVA and employment increasing across the sector in the 2015-2017 period. In line with an estimated increase in tourism activity generally in Ireland it is assumed that the tourism in marine and coastal areas increased by 6.7%. The shipping and maritime transport sector also exhibited increases, as seen by the 6% increase year on year in the Irish Maritime Development Office (IMDO)’s i-ship index in 2017. The i-ship index is used by the IMDO to gauge the health of the Irish maritime industry. Emerging Marine Industries had a turnover of €398 million and provided employment to over 2,000 full-time equivalents representing 8% of the turnover and 7% of employment in Ireland’s ocean economy in 2017. The emerging industries include advanced marine technology products and services, maritime commerce, marine biotechnology and bioproducts and marine renewable energy. Commenting on the latest figures, Professor Alan Ahearne, Director of the Whitaker Institute at NUI Galway, said: “It’s clear from this latest evidence that the Ocean Economy has made a significant contribution to Ireland’s overall economic recovery. Marine industries have delivered new jobs and extra income to every corner of the country. With our vast ocean resources, technological knowledge and innovation talent, there is huge potential for further sustainable growth in Ireland’s Blue Economy.” Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth – An Integrated Marine Plan for Ireland, published in July 2012, outlines a number of specific targets which seek to expand Ireland’s ocean economy. One of those targets aims to double its value to 2.4% of GDP by 2030. This 2.4% figure was based on a total estimate (both direct and indirect Gross Value Added) in 2007 for the Irish Ocean economy that amounted to 1.2% of GDP at that time. The latest marine industry statistics from SEMRU indicate that the total direct and indirect value of the Irish ocean economy is €3.71 billion which represents 1.85% of GDP in 2017. For more information on the latest figures please visit: http://www.nuigalway.ie/semru/documents/oceaneconomy2017_update.pdf For more information on SEMRU, please visit www.nuigalway.ie/semru/ -Ends-

Monday, 18 June 2018

Funding will be used to advance product development in preparation for follow-up funding and US commercialisation of the device and to progress to first in human trials in 2020 NUI Galway-based medical device company, AuriGen Medical has received €2.5 million in the latest round of Horizon 2020 SME Instrument funding, which receives applications from all over Europe. Ranking number one out of 1,280 applications across all sectors, the company specialises in the treatment of persistent atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat) patients and is developing the first cardiac implant to treat both the stroke and heart failure risk associated with this condition. The company was established by Tony O’Halloran and Dr John Thompson who met through NUI Galway’s BioInnovate Ireland Programme with Enterprise Ireland funding the development work at the University through a Commercialisation Fund programme. The Commercialisation Fund programme is co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) under Ireland’s European Union Structural and Investment Funds Programme 2014-2020. Dr Thompson, a former intensive care physician together with Mr O’Halloran, a highly experienced medical device engineer, formed AuriGen Medical after meeting in 2015 when both were selected by the BioInnovate Ireland Programme at NUI Galway. During this time, they invented the novel device solution to address a large unmet clinical need that they observed. Persistent atrial fibrillation, an irregular heartbeat, affects around 10 million patients across Europe and is associated with direct healthcare costs in the billions of euros each year with patients describing each palpitation as a constant reminder of their own mortality, fearing that the next heart beat could signal a catastrophic stroke. Over 70% of atrial fibrillation patients have persistent or longstanding disease however, the current treatment options including medications, cardioversion and ablation (a keyhole procedure carried out to scar or destroy tissue in the heart that is allowing incorrect electrical signals to cause an abnormal heart rhythm) only address the minority of patients with intermittent disease. AuriGen Medical believe that once approved their medical device could help the majority of patients become free from atrial fibrillation. This funding will be used to advance product development in preparation for first in human trials in 2020. The company will initially target the 200,000 persistent atrial fibrillation patients per year who are having repeat ablations due to reoccurrence after a first failed ablation procedure. With the costs of repeat ablations estimated at over $50,000 AuriGen’s device aims to deliver significant cost savings to healthcare providers.    The AuriGen device is a single shot left atrial appendage implant with additional ablation and sensor technology for fast, simple and permanent electro-mechanical isolation of the Left atrial appendage, a pouch located in the upper chamber of the heart. The AuriGen technology utilises single-use sensors and software algorithms to give doctors a real-time feedback on the quality of the ablation. By making it easier for doctors to tell if they have permanently electrically isolated, AuriGen believes it can increase success rates while shortening procedure times and open the procedure to even more physicians. The technology is based on significant clinical data underpinning the benefits of electrical isolation of the left atrial appendage in persistent atrial fibrillation. AuriGen Medical will compete in both the electrophysiology and structural heart markets, aiming to meet unmet clinical needs for both atrial fibrillation and stroke prevention. Dr John Thompson, Chief Executive Officer of AuriGen Medical, said: “Ranking first in the Horizon 2020 SME instrument is an incredible endorsement of AuriGen Medical’s technology, market opportunity and the company’s management team.” Tony O’Halloran, Chief Technology Officer of AuriGen Medical, said: “Our pre-clinical trials have been very encouraging and the feedback from cardiologists is extremely positive. We are delighted to announce this investment, which will help us make a number of key hire’s, further advance our product development and once approved make a positive impact on the lives of millions of atrial fibrillation patients across the world.” Sean Burke, Horizon 2020 National Contact Point, Enterprise Ireland, said: “The SME Instrument phase 2 funding is complementary to Enterprise Ireland’s supports which facilitate innovation as a driver of business growth and job creation. Our support of close-to-market projects gives companies a head start with fast access to funding and business innovation support. In the latest call results, 64 projects were funded within a budget of €110 million and AuriGen Medical was ranked first amongst these. Enterprise Ireland congratulates AuriGen on its success in acquiring this funding and will work with the company to support its introduction of this innovation to market.” David Murphy, Director of the Technology Transfer Office in NUI Galway, said: “Having supported the development and management of this technology since the team came up with the original concept, we wholeheartedly congratulate Tony and John on securing this investment and wish them well in the next phase of their growth.” Dr Faisal Sharif, Director of BioInnovate Ireland in NUI Galway, said: “We are delighted to see AuriGen Medical funded for €2.5 million through H2020 SME Instrument. The funding will allow Aurigen Medical to further develop the technology and plan clinical strategy with ‘First in Man’ clinical trials for patients with persisent atrial fibrillation. The mission of BioInnovate Ireland is to grow the indigenous Medtech sector through dedicated training in medical device innovation. The fellowship programme, co-funded by Enterprise Ireland is instrumental in identifying such patients with limited treatment options.” The Horizon 2020 National Support Network is led by Enterprise Ireland on behalf of the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation. For more information about AuriGen Medical, visit: http://aurigenmedical.com/ -Ends-

Thursday, 3 May 2018

International conference at NUI Galway on 24 May to explore artificial intelligence and machine learning Festival season in Galway is well underway with the AtlanTec Festival 2018, which runs from April through to 25 May. Now in its fourth year, the IT festival is organised by the IT Association Galway (ITAG). At the heart of the festival will be the international conference on 24 May, co-hosted by NUI Galway. This year’s AtlanTec Conference at NUI Galway is themed on ‘The Art of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning’. Some 300 business leaders and expert software developers are expected to attend the day-long conference which will explore all aspects of the topic. Artificial intelligence and machine learning are among the drivers of a wave of innovation in IT. Machines and robots are being programmed to adapt some of the cognitive functions associated with humans, such as learning and problem solving. Many have cited this as revolutionary and life changing for society as we know it. The conference will feature innovators and future thinkers who will give insights into such possibilities, while also discussing related technological topics such as data analytics, deep learning, virtual assistants and chatbots. An array of speakers have been announced from as far afield as Vancouver, Denmark, India, New York, the UK, as well as Ireland. Among those will be Nell Watson, an engineer, entrepreneur, and futurist thinker affiliated with the Singularity University and The Future Society at Harvard; and Canadian inventor Ann Makosinski who has created a flashlight that runs off the heat of the human hand and a mug that uses heat from a drink to charge a phone. IT Association Galway and AtlanTec Festival CEO Caroline Cawley explains the purpose of the festival and conference: “AtlanTec Festival showcases Galway’s diverse technology culture. It’s an opportunity to encourage creativity, collaboration and innovation within the IT, business and educational communities in the West of Ireland. The ability to attract international speakers of the calibre of Nell Watson and Ann Makosinski is a testament to the innovative culture that exists in the west.” Other festival events take place across a range of venues and include: In-Company Events across Galway’s Tecnology Sector – April until end May Digital Women’s Forum ‘Pressing for Progress’ - Hotel Meyrick, 23 May Transition Year Gets Techie – GMIT, 10 May Tech Tag World Championships – Corinthians RFC, 25 May Professor Lokesh Joshi, Vice-President for Research at NUI Galway, said: “Ireland is the second largest exporter of computer and IT services in the world. Some of the largest companies in the sector have bases in Galway. We are also home to some incredible innovative indigenous organisations, including 15 ICT start-ups based here on campus and many more in incubators across the city. Combine this with the research expertise at NUI Galway’s Insight Centre for Data Analytics and College of Engineering and IT, along with GMIT’s expertise and we have an ecosystem that goes from strength to strength.” The festival is supported by ITAG Skillnet, NUI Galway, Avaya, Cisco, Fidelity Investments, DXC, Fintrax, HPE, Storm Technology, Valeo, GMIT and Galway City Council. The Art of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning conference will take place in the Bailey Allen Hall, NUI Galway on Thursday, 24 May. For bookings and full details of AtlanTec Festival, email contact@itag.ie or visit: www.atlantec.ie -Ends-

Friday, 27 April 2018

The KTI (Knowledge Transfer Ireland) Impact Awards recognise and showcase the success in knowledge transfer carried out in Irish Higher Education Institutions and publicly funded research organisations for the wider benefit of the economy and society at large. NUI Galway was nominated in two categories for the finals on 26 April and won a special recognition award for its work with BioInnovate. Spin-out Company Impact AwardNUI Galway has been shortlisted  for it's spin-out NVP Energy, which has changed wastewater treatment from a process which traditionally expends large amounts of energy, to a process which produces usable energy. Spin-out Company Impact AwardNUI Galway has been shortlisted  for it's spin-out NVP Energy, which has changed wastewater treatment from a process which traditionally expends large amounts of energy, to a process which produces usable energy. Through its ground-breaking technology, licensed from NUI Galway, NVP Energy drives down costs and reduces the carbon footprint of its customers. NVP Energy’s technology exploits the natural action of anaerobic bacteria which convert the organic pollutants present in wastewater to high-quality biogas. The technology’s ability to harness nature’s powerful natural processes means it can work at low temperatures and needs no external heat. Since its founding in 2013, the company have secured over €12 million in funding and investment. An outstanding 2017 has seen NVP Energy secure UK-based projects with Heineken and projects with a malting site and a municipal treatment utility in 2018. The company’s head office is in Galway with additional offices in Dublin and the UK. Licence2Market Impact Award NUI Galway was shortlisted for management information software and copyright licence to Qpercom. Qpercom has become a global leader in providing advanced assessment solutions and expertise to institutions worldwide. Its software solutions are used in high stakes evaluation-based exams, such those of medicine and law, and in other scenarios where assessing a person’s capabilities in a fair and accurate manner is paramount. Qpercom claims 70% reduction in administration time and elimination of human error by taking out the laborious paper trail. A 2008 spin-out from NUI Galway, Qpercom took a licence to copyright-protected material and know-how relating to Management Information Systems (MIS) technology and in 2017 launched a new product to market, Qpercom Entrust, based on this licence. -ENDS-  

Monday, 23 April 2018

  €486.2 million total direct sales of cultural and creative produce from the west of Ireland in 2016 5,000 companies employ 13,000 people in creative industries in the west of Ireland App, gaming, and new media industries reported double the sales to their craft and cultural counterparts The School of Geography and Archaeology and the Whitaker Institute in NUI Galway, was part of a recent conference that highlighted key outcomes from the a creative momentum project where analysis of, and supports for the creative sector in the Arts, Crafts, Design, Media and Technology industries, were discussed. The three year project, led by the Western Development Commission (WDC) sought to shine a light on the important role that culture and creativity can play in the development of some of Europe’s most rural regions. The project team presented resources and toolkits useful to creative entrepreneurs that will help internationalise and develop their business. A panel discussion debated ‘creativity on the periphery’ addressing both the challenges and opportunities linked to working in the creative industries sector in Europe’s Northern Edge. The NUI Galway team is one of the partner organisations of a creative momentum, where the project was implemented by the School of Geography and Archaeology and the Whitaker Institute. An economic and social impact analysis of the west of Ireland creative sector was carried out as part of the project. The team found total direct sales of craft, cultural and creative produce amounted to over €486 million in 2016, while average company sales differed across the sub-sectors. Close to 5,000 companies employ nearly 13,000 people in this sector in the west of Ireland. The creative industries (app development, gaming, and new media) reported average sales close to twice that of their craft (artistic/heritage laden goods) and cultural (theatre, music, film) counterparts. The report also identified a range of wider socio-economic contributions from the creative sector in the west of Ireland. Dr Patrick Collins, lead researcher of the project at NUI Galway, said: “These figures help prove how culture and creativity can be seen as vital resources. Encouragingly, they point to a bright future, but these are often one person operations and micro enterprises that need support and recognition. We also identified how a vibrant creative sector has many impacts beyond the economic, they help build communities and are vital to the identity of the place we live in.” NUI Galway also developed the ‘Creative Business Model Toolkit’ as part of the project. The Toolkit provides information resources and tools for creative entrepreneurs to better understand how to develop and refine their business model. It explores what a business model is and its importance to creative businesses and draws on real world examples of creative businesses to illustrate issues. The toolkit aims to help creative entrepreneurs build a business that is more sustainable and competitive. a creative momentum is a three year (2015-2018), €2 million transnational project co-funded by the EU Interreg Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme. The project has focused on the development of the creative industries sector in regions across Europe’s Northern Edge. To read the full Economic Impact report of the project, visit:  http://mycreativeedge.eu/app/uploads/2018/02/west-ireland-eia-report-web-final_rev-compressed.pdf To read the Creative Model Business Toolkit, visit: https://mycreativeedge.eu/app/uploads/2017/05/acmp_2018_bm_toolkit_web.pdf -Ends-

Friday, 6 April 2018

An NUI Galway study on blockchain has been presented at the Whitaker Ideas Forum workshop on campus entitled, ‘The adoption of Blockchain in Ireland: Examining the influence of organisational factors’. The study investigates the organisational factors that influenced Irish companies in their decisions to adopt blockchain. The study, which was conducted in conjunction with the Blockchain Association of Ireland, investigated the organisational factors that influenced Irish companies in their decisions to adopt blockchain. The emergence of blockchain as a trend in the information technology sector has attracted considerable attention from practitioners, academics, researchers and national development authorities. Blockchain in its simplest form is a shared database system which allows users in a peer-to-peer network to verify and store records. Blockchain represents a new way to access and trust data communicated over the internet. Lead author of the study, Dr Trevor Clohessy at NUI Galway, said: “Instead of keeping data centralised in a traditional ledger, these new digital systems use independent computers, often referred to as ‘nodes’, to record, synchronise and share individual transactions in their respective electronic ledgers. Blockchain is a digital ledger which allows for the brokering of trust on a decentralised peer-to-peer network. Blockchain transactions can include the exchange of data such as personal identification records, and assets such as tokens and digital currency.” The study, which was led by Dr Clohessy and Dr Thomas Acton from the J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics at NUI Galway, identified several patterns. It found that top management support and organisational readiness are enablers for blockchain, and that large companies are more likely to adopt blockchain than small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The research explains these findings by examining the nature of blockchain and the characteristics of Ireland as a developed technological country. Organisational readiness will require the availability of: Employees with the requisite blockchain IT knowledge and skills Financial resources within the IT budget for adopting blockchain Infrastructure on which blockchain applications can be built Dr Clohessy added: “We are excited to present the results of a seminal piece of research that we have conducted on blockchain organisational readiness here in Ireland. Blockchain is often portrayed as a black box technology which is mostly associated with cryptocurrencies and financial institutions. However, our research indicates that blockchain is a much more versatile beast that provides adopters with advantages such as anonymity, immutability (transactions that are permanent and cannot be altered), transparency, security and fast transactions. “We expect blockchain will significantly transform the traditional business operations of organisations across a multitude of industries such as health, food, financial and Government sectors in Ireland over the next five years. However, we have also identified a number of barriers which organisations will have to overcome such as the need for them to view blockchain as a separate entity to cryptocurrencies, a lack of technology workers who possess the requisite blockchain skills and competencies, and a lack of university level blockchain courses encompassing a number of core competencies identified in the study.” The J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics is currently exploring various possibilities to address the gap in the lack of university level blockchain courses such as creating executive blockchain workshops. Dr Clohessy has also introduced blockchain as a topic for students within the modules for MSc Business Analytics and MSc Information Systems Management. A more detailed industry report and several academic studies on blockchain are currently in progress. For more information about the Blockchain Association of Ireland, visit: https://www.blockchainireland.org/ -Ends-

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Project aims to promote STEM amongst student teachers The School of Education at NUI Galway, supported by Google Ireland, has announced an innovative project titled “Creative Coding for Maths Makers.” The new project integrates mathematical and computer programming concepts, with a specific focus on promoting STEM amongst student teachers. BA Mathematics and Education student teachers at NUI Galway will be working with primary and post-primary school children to promote mathematics and computer programming integration. Both student teachers and school children will develop an understanding and design of innovative mathematical concepts by a coding interface and will then render their virtual models physically in the MakerSpace. Unique, and the only facility of its kind in an Irish university, the MakerSpace in the James Hardiman Library at NUI Galway is a space purposefully designed to facilitate engaged teaching and learning. It's a space where students can be creative, collaborate, share, develop ideas, innovate, and generally just ‘make stuff’. The computers available in the MakerSpace have a higher specification than those available in most of the PC suites on campus. MakerSpace offers a 3D printing service*. Such exposure and experience is of value to students as it replicates life in a STEM industry. Claire Conneely, Computer Science Education Programme Manager at Google Ireland said: “We are excited to support the Creative Coding for Maths Makers programme at NUI Galway. Embedding Computer Science as a fundamental and rigorous subject throughout the entire school curriculum - including the introduction of Computer Science as a Leaving Certificate subject later this year - will ensure that students have a deeper understanding of how they can use technology to be creative and solve problems. Equally important is growing the confidence and skillset of the next generation of teachers, so that Computer Science will be accessible and available to all students across Ireland in the coming years.”  Professor Gerry MacRuairc, Professor of Education and Head of School, commented: “this Google funded programme reinforces the philosophy of the School that technology will not replace teachers but it is essential that teachers are introduced to many forms of technology in their teacher education programmes.” In order to be a catalyst for positive change in computer science education, Google has sponsored projects like the NUI Galway ‘Creative Coding for Maths Makers’ program in order to help address a key challenge for computing education in Ireland, in the preparation and up-skilling of teachers to deliver the new Computer Science curricula in primary and post-primary Irish schools. Leading the project is Dr Cornelia Connolly in the School of Education at NUI Galway: “The introduction of coding in schools and the new Computer Science Leaving Certificate present a landmark opportunity for STEM advancement in Ireland; however, there is the challenge now to prepare teachers properly to teach these key STEM areas in an engaging and effective way. Projects like ‘Creative Coding for Maths Makers’ enable us to start doing this in Galway, in partnership with schools in the city and region.” -Ends- 

Friday, 16 March 2018

NUI Galway has signed the Charter for the Galway and West of Ireland Region of Gastronomy which commits the University to a range of initiatives to support food culture in the region as part of its designation as European Region of Gastronomy 2018. These initiatives will include featuring local produce in campus food outlets; hosting high-profile food-related conferences and a series of public lectures on theme related to gastronomy and food culture. The 17 restaurants on the NUI Galway campus serve approximately 30,000 customers each week and under the Charter, campus caterers have committed to sourcing as much produce as possible from local producers and suppliers as well as supporting food waste minimisation actions within the home and workplace. Dr Philip Smyth, Head of Shannon College of Hotel Management, which is now a college of NUI Galway, said: “Our food culture is vitally important for our health and wellbeing, and signing the charter highlights the University’s commitment to supporting this important sector. We look forward to working with our campus community to highlight the richness of our region of gastronomy and to support sustainable development and innovation.” Over the coming months, the University will host a range of high-profile food conferences, including the Good Food Ireland Conference and Food on the Edge. As part of the programme of events on sustainability, the University in partnership with Teagasc will host an Agri-Food Seminar on Sustainability as well as a Beef and Sheep Workshop in June. Ann Duggan, Commercial Manager at NUI Galway, commented: “Local seasonal produce forms the key ingredient across menus on a daily basis and the five catering companies providing services on campus are enthusiastically working with growers/ producers and wholesalers to create nutritional, tasty dishes for our campus community of approximately 20,000. We also welcome over 10,000 conference delegates and visitors to campus annually. In recent years local, artisan and craft producers have exhibited at receptions for international delegates which has added enormously to the enjoyment of their experience in Galway.   Food is central to the delegates’ experience and having such a wealth of wonderful fresh produce on our doorstep differentiates Galway and gives us a strong competitive edge when competing for international events.” Throughout 2018 NUI Galway highlight areas where it is making a contribution to Gastronomy under the key focus areas, such as Sustainability, Health and Nutrition and Cultural Diversity already established as themes for Galway’s year as European Region of Gastronomy. These will feature in a Public Lecture Series on campus in autumn 2018 which will be which will be free and open to the public. Speaking on the announcement, Elaine Donohue, Programme Lead, Galway European Region of Gastronomy, said: “The European Region of Gastronomy is thrilled to have such committed support from NUI Galway for the year of our designation. They have gone above and beyond in their commitments to develop more local supply chains through our Galway & West of Ireland Food Charter and are looking to engage a large number of their schools in our themes for the year. Through their support, both TouRRoir, a Global Forum from Good Food Ireland, and Food on The Edge, an International Chef's Symposium will be hosted at NUI Galway.” ENDS

Thursday, 15 March 2018

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar Announces Medical Device Research Collaboration between Boston Scientific and the SFI Research Centre CÚRAM Medical device research in cardiovascular illnesses will allow surgeons to support minimally invasive procedures and improve outcomes for patients. An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar TD, today announced a new research project between CÚRAM, the SFI Research Centre for Medical Devices based at NUI Galway, and Boston Scientific. The research will enhance medical devices that allow surgeons to support minimally invasive procedures when carrying out life-saving repairs for aneurysms and aortic valve repair. It is one of several new research projects emerging from the collaboration between CÚRAM and Boston Scientific. ‌Pictured at the United States Institute of Peace, Washington DC (left to right): Dr Carmel McGroarty Mitchell, CÚRAM Industry Programme Manager, Prof Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director of the SFI Research Centre CÚRAM, Prof Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland, with An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar TD, and Dr David Knapp, Vice President, Corporate Research, Boston Scientific. Speaking at a Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) event in Washington DC to celebrate and build scientific collaboration between Ireland and the United States as part of the St Patrick’s Day Festival, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar TD said, “These new research projects are further evidence of the high calibre of our research talent and the continued growth of the medical devices sector in Ireland.” “Thanks to significant Government investment in R&D through Science Foundation Ireland, we have built a world-class research ecosystem, and Ireland is now recognised as a global leader in creative, innovative technologies. By collaborating with industry on innovative research, I hope we can look forward to the development of new and affordable solutions for chronic diseases, which can have a transformative effect on people's lives.” Boston Scientific products touch the lives of more than 25 million patients each year. Its Galway facility, which focuses on cardiovascular devices, is the company’s largest facility in Ireland. Key product lines include drug-eluting stents, biliary stents, and catheters. This new project, led by CÚRAM Principal Investigator (PI) Dr Niamh Hynes, NUI Galway offers the exciting potential to develop new devices by bringing together clinical and industry expertise and experience with biomedical and scientific research excellence. “This unique, multi-disciplinary, specialist environment is key to CÚRAM’s success in developing strong programmes of work with our industry partners; in this case bringing substantial investment from Boston Scientific,” said Prof Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director of the SFI Research Centre CÚRAM based at NUI Galway. “This project is in addition to three other ongoing research projects with Boston Scientific.” Interventional cardiology is a branch of cardiology dealing specifically with catheter-based treatment of structural heart diseases. Minimally invasive transcatheter procedures for aortic valve repair, which involve inserting a replacement valve are being used more frequently, reducing the risk of surgery for patients. Research is now focusing on the development of novel interventional solutions, which allow blood to flow in the correct direction through the heart. CÚRAM Principle Investigator, Dr Faisal Sharif, in collaboration with Boston Scientific, is developing technology to further reduce risk and improve outcomes for patients undergoing these surgeries. Another research project, led by CÚRAM Investigator Prof Tim O’ Brien at NUI Galway, is carrying out a preclinical evaluation of a catheter device to support muscle and vascular regeneration in patients suffering from critical limb ischaemia; a severe obstruction of the arteries which reduces blood flow to the extremities. CÚRAM investigators Prof Gearoid Ó Laighin and Dr Leo Quinlan are also collaborating with Boston Scientific on the development of a novel implantable electrical stimulation device to improve cardiovascular circulation. Prof Mark Ferguson, Science Foundation Ireland Director General and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland, said “The significant work being carried out by the SFI Research Centre CÚRAM continues to position Ireland at the forefront of the world medical device industry. I am delighted with the announcement of this new research partnership, which highlights the world-class reputation of Ireland as an important centre for R&D. The deepening of CÚRAM’s industry research collaborations is a testament to the research talent and collaborative environment which companies can access in Ireland. I am also confident that the project outcomes have the potential to positively transform human health across the world.”  “CÚRAM’s goal is to establish long-term strategic relationships with our industry partners, to complete projects that advance medical device technologies and inventions and convert these into products and services that benefit the patient,” said Prof Pandit. “Our Industry Programme Team facilitates and supports collaborations such as the projects we are working on with Boston Scientific; from the initial enquiry right through to knowledge transfer and the identification of future projects.” CÚRAM is a world-leading SFI Research Centre that brings together researchers from NUI Galway, Royal College of Surgeons Ireland, Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin, University College Cork, University Limerick. Its overarching aim is to radically improve quality of life for patients suffering from chronic illness. CÚRAM’s clinical targets include cardiovascular disease, respiratory illnesses, diabetes, neural disorders, musculoskeletal issues, soft tissue repair and renal and urological disease. -Ends-

Monday, 12 March 2018

New Blackstone LaunchPad Partnership to Benefit NUI Galway Staff, Students and Alumni Entrepreneurs working with the Blackstone LaunchPad at NUI Galway will benefit from a new partnership between the Blackstone Charitable Foundation and TechStars, a global start-up accelerator and entrepreneurial network. The new effort was announced March 7 at SXSW EDU in Austin, Texas, USA. . The announcement comes as Blackstone LaunchPad at NUI Galway celebrates its second year on campus at NUI Galway. As one of just 20 Blackstone LaunchPad sites across the globe, Blackstone LaunchPad at NUI Galway boasts an entrepreneurial student community that has over 5,000 members.   It has provided over 1,800 coaching sessions since launching and holds 3-4 events each week across campus supporting entrepreneurship. The programme helps students, staff and alumni explore entrepreneurship as a viable career path. The programme is funded in partnership between the Galway University Foundation and the Blackstone Charitable Foundation. Director of Innovation at NUI Galway, David Murphy said: “NUI Galway is ranked as one of the top 250 universities in the world so we must constantly innovate to ensure we deliver a world-class education and experience for our students. The TechStars partnership with the Blackstone Charitable Foundation will provide our entrepreneurs with very valuable access to international expertise, mentors and supports.” Natalie Walsh, Executive Director, Blackstone LaunchPad at NUI Galway, commented: “The announcement this week by Blackstone LaunchPad and TechStars will give NUI Galway staff, students and alumni access to world-class resources and expertise. This is a tremendous opportunity to set NUI Galway apart from other universities across the globe. We are confident that the partnership will complement our fantastic entrepreneurial eco-system on campus and further enhances our position as a place where entrepreneurship and innovation happen.” This year the NUI Galway programme will run its first student accelerator summer programme, in addition it will run a female only InnovatHER programme showcasing some of the Ireland’s leading female entrepreneurs. While in April 2018 a med-tech competition for students focussing on solving unmet clinical needs will take place. Blackstone LaunchPad is one of a portfolio of innovative programme supported by the Galway University Foundation at NUI Galway other programmes include, BioInnovate, BioExel, EXPLORE, and TechInnovate. The future of entrepreneurship at NUI Galway looks bright and promising.  ENDS

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Lero Researchers at NUI Galway and Valeo Announce Partnership on Autonomous Vehicles Development Signal processing technology to help vehicles see and adapt better to complex environments NUI Galway campus to serve as testbed ‌‌Researchers from the Lero SFI Research Centre at NUI Galway have signed an autonomous vehicles Research and Development partnership with Valeo, the major automotive supplier headquartered in Paris, France. Funding for the programme comes from Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) and Valeo. The research will focus on helping autonomous vehicles to better navigate in complex, real world conditions using sensor signal processing technology.Pictured l-r: Dr Martin Glavin, NUI Galway, Dr Ciarán Hughes, Valeo and Dr Edward Jones, NUI Galway. Photo Andrew Downes A team of up to 30 Lero NUI Galway and Valeo engineers based in Tuam, Ireland, will work on the project. In support of the programme, Lero NUI Galway is hiring ten PhD and two post-doctoral researchers. Valeo, which employs 1,100 people in Tuam, operates the largest Research and Development team in the West of Ireland with over 400 engineers. The project team at Lero, the Irish Software Research Centre, supported by Science Foundation Ireland, will be headed by Dr Martin Glavin and Dr Edward Jones of the College of Engineering and Informatics at NUI Galway. Dr Ciarán Hughes, Senior Expert in Computer Vision, leads the Valeo research team. Dr Edward Jones from NUI Galway, said: “In many ways perception of the current state of autonomous vehicle technology is more advanced than reality. While autonomous vehicles are currently operating successfully in several locations, particularly in the US, this is often under road landscape and weather conditions very different to the more complex city and rural environments that would commonly be found in locations such as Ireland or elsewhere in Europe.” As part of the research programme a semi-autonomous car will be equipped to navigate every day hazards on the NUI Galway campus, although the test vehicle will be under human control at all times. Critical use cases will be examined at Valeo’s secured test facility in Tuam. Dr Martin Glavin from NUI Galway, said: “Working with the Valeo Research and Development team, our research aims to develop sensor technology that can see further and adapt to difficult driving conditions such as fog, heavy rain and darkness. It will also be designed to better deal with real life road situations such as cyclists, pedestrians or animals wandering on to the road.” Dr Ciarán Hughes, Senior Expert, Valeo added: “This collaboration brings an 18-year relationship with NUI Galway to a new level, a step that wouldn’t have been possible without the support of Lero. At a broad level, the project will look at how to extract the most information possible from automotive sensors, which is critical for highly complex autonomous driving systems.” Speaking about the partnership, Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland, said: “It is a tribute to researchers in Ireland that Valeo has chosen to work with Lero, the SFI Research Centre for Software Research, and establish this Research and Development partnership here. SFI Research Centres such as Lero continue to make important scientific advances which support enterprise and industry, develop critical skills, support regional development and enhance Ireland’s international reputation. We look forward to seeing the results of the partnership and the sharing of knowledge and expertise it will facilitate.” Joe Gibbs, Business Development Manager at Lero, the SFI-funded Irish Software Research Centre, added: “This is an exciting project at the cutting edge of advanced autonomous vehicle technology. It is significant that this research is taking place in Ireland.” For more information about the research contact Dr Edward Jones at edward.jones@nuigalway.ie or 091 492720 and Dr Martin Glavin at martin.glavin@nuigalway.ie or 091 492035. -Ends-

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

NUI Galway is calling all wanna-be-engineers to participate in a free full day family event ‘Engineering Our Future: Family Fun Day’, which will take place on Saturday, 24 February from 10am–4pm in the Alice Perry Engineering Building at NUI Galway.  The Family Fun Day is part of the Engineers Week 2018 which celebrates engineering across Ireland. The Family Fun Day will provide plenty of science and engineering shows, movie screening, workshops and hands-on activities that will inspire young (and older) people. Families can watch ‘Dream Big: Engineering Our World’ narrated by Academy Award winner Jeff Bridges which celebrates the human creativity behind engineering marvels big and small from the Great Wall of China and the world’s tallest buildings to underwater robots, solar cars and smart, sustainable cities, and show how engineers push the limits of innovation in unexpected and amazing ways. Young and older attendees can engage with the ‘Spectacular Science of Water Show’ and see how the water cycle works; learn about the impact water has on our weather and other amazing properties of water. See clouds before your eyes, watch what can be done with the power of water and see water being poured straight into ice. Spectacular magic tricks can be experienced with quirky illusions and stunts in the show ‘It’s all done with mirrors’. Is it trapped doors, mirrors, or camera effects? Whatever you discover, more may be revealed! Families are encouraged to come and build your own wind turbine, check if you are stronger than a superhero, learn where water comes from and where it goes, explore the GEEC: Galway Energy Efficient Car, build robots, engage in a LEGO mindstorm or learn about our rich engineering heritage. These and many other activities showing the world of civil, environmental, mechanical, biomedical and electronic engineering, and information technology will be available on the day. Speaking about the Family Fun Day, Professor Peter Mc Hugh, Dean of College of Engineering and Informatics at NUI Galway, said: “Engineering is in every aspect of our lives; it allows us to live, communicate, travel, work, play, stay safe and healthy. By taking maths and science from the lab engineers dream of, invent, design and build things that change the reality and future of all human beings. Join us for the Family Fun Day and explore Engineering through exciting, fun and quirky demonstrations, meet with practicing engineers and IT specialists to better understand the role of Engineering in our lives and its impact on our future.” All details about the Family Fun Day are available at www.nuigalway.ie/engineersweek  and bookings of free tickets can also be made through the website. Tickets can be booked in advanced for some shows, but it will also be possible to attend shows without pre-booking on a first-come-first-served basis on the day. For further information on ‘Engineering Our Future: Family Fun Day’ contact Jamie Goggins jamie.goggins@nuigalway.ie or Magdalena Hajdukiewicz magdalena.hajdukiewicz@nuigalway.ie -Ends-

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

NUI Galway launch the European SEAFUEL project for sustainable integration of renewable fuels in local transportation across three remote Atlantic regions NUI Galway has officially launched the SEAFUEL project, which aims to use hydrogen as a renewable resource across the Atlantic area to power the local transport fleet of cars and support the shift towards a low-carbon economy. The project will be piloted in the Canary Islands, Madeira in Portugal and the Aran Islands. Led by NUI Galway, the €3.5 million three year SEAFUEL project will use the expertise and infrastructure of a group of transnational partners in renewable energy, namely solar and wind, to demonstrate the viability of hydrogen as a fuel to be used by the local transport authorities. SEAFUEL aims to demonstrate the feasibility to power local transportation networks using fuels produced by renewable energies and seawater, with no net carbon footprint as promoted by the resource-efficient flagship initiative COM(2010)2020, an EU policy document on ‘a strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth’ within the Europe 2020 strategy. SEAFUEL will cover technical innovation by way of a demonstration plant, a framework for policy implementation and a sustainability analysis of production, and distribution and usage of hydrogen as an alternative fuel in remote Atlantic regions. Dr Pau Farràs from the School of Chemistry at NUI Galway, said: “SEAFUEL proposes a sustainable way to power local transportation in isolated regions using renewable resources such as sun, wind and seawater, considering the inherent intermittency of such solar and wind energy.” SEAFUEL will focus on enhancing the green growth and blue economy and paving the way for common renewable energy policies to promote clean and sustainable transport systems. Isolated areas such as islands face the specific challenge of the high cost of electricity and fuel and their dependency on mainland infrastructures. SEAFUEL will target these regions where 30% of fuel consumption comes from local transportation. The project aims to drastically reduce greenhouse emissions, particle matter (PM) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2), in line with the Clean Air Programme for Europe 2008/50/EC, and provide a pathway for isolated regions to become energetically independent, leading to future installations in other Atlantic regions. An alternative fuels model for islands will be developed to fulfil the requirements that each of the partner regions propose for their ‘Regional Innovation Strategies (RIS3), aimed at low carbon economy and efficient use of marine resources. The SEAFUEL project is co-financed by the 2014-2020 INTERREG Atlantic Area programme that supports transnational cooperation projects in 36 Atlantic regions in five countries; France, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom, contributing to the achievement of economic, social and territorial cohesion. Led by NUI Galway, the SEAFUEL partners include; Comharchumann Fuinnimh Oileáin Árann Teoranta, University of Liverpool, Action Renewables, HyEnergy Consultancy Limited, Logan Energy, the Institute of Technology and Renewable Energies of Tenerife and the Tenerife Energy Agency, The Regional Agency for Energy and Environment of the Autonomous Region of Madeira in Portugal and the European Hydrogen Association in Belgium. For more contact Dr Pau Farràs Costa, SEAFUEL Project Lead, School of Chemistry, NUI Galway at pau.farras@nuigalway.ie or 091 492765. Visit SEAFUEL at: https://www.facebook.com/SEAFUEL.EU/ -Ends-  

Thursday, 8 February 2018

Six companies will gain €95,000 in seed funding along with intensive training for the next six months on this mentor centric, expert lead, practical, Medtech Accelerator, the first of its kind in Ireland. Investment opportunities range from cutting edge spinal injury technologies to disruptive wound care products, new wave manufacturing techniques to cell therapies to revolutionise oncology treatments, and environmental and clinical diagnostics to preventative patient devices for chronic disease.  Innovative new solutions to medical challenges will be developed by six new companies announced today (8 February 2018) as participants in the BioExel Accelerator Medtech programme. The NUI Galway initiative, supported by Enterprise Ireland, will support the companies who were shortlisted from over 50 applicants. BioExel Medtech Accelerator is the first of its kind in Ireland to focus solely on the medical technology sector. The six companies, which are all in the scale-up phase, will be based at NUI Galway for a period of six months, to build and commercially validate their technologies by working with existing entrepreneurial networks, mentors and management team. BioExel is delighted to announce the first cohort of companies: Bioprobe Diagnostics Ltd – Ciaran Geoghegan Bluedrop Medical Ltd – Chris Murphy GiantLeap Biotechnology Ltd – Martin Codyre Hidramed Solutions Ltd – Suzanne Moloney Grey Matter Technologies Ltd – Rory Dunne Q-Pathway Ltd – Niamh Frehill The successful participants met their first challenge of many, in a three-day clinic on campus with global experts, mentors, and entrepreneur in residence as their market strategy is validated and substantiated. The first month’s clinic has seen many experts on site including: BioVisability, Kate Gunning; HMC Marketing Consultancy, Helen McCormack; Bob Rosenberg, Entrepreneur in Residence; Viadymanics; Ormond Coaching; BioTechspert; Cresco Innovation and many more to work with the BioExel companies and share true market knowledge and experience. BioExel is managed by Dr Sandra Ganly the accelerator Director, also co-founder of BioInnovate and Senior Research Fellow with vast experience in the Medtech environment. Another member of the management team is Fiona Neary, Commercial Director and co-founder of BioExel, as well as Manager of the Business Innovation Centre at NUI Galway, with many years’ experience working with the start-up community. Fiona Neary, Commercial Director and co-founder of BioExel at NUI Galway, said: “For these companies being immersed in a Medtech hub, the environment that BioExel is aligned to is critical, as the innovation and transformation in this ecosystem is recognised globally. From over 50 applications the vast array of discovery and technology in the medtech sector is growing at a rapid rate with some amazing opportunities. BioExel is key to this transformation as we deliver the next generation of investor ready, first class medical technologies to the marketplace.” The Western region already has a strong Medtech ecosystem and this is actively supported by the expertise and infrastructure at NUI Galway. The University is home to Ireland’s only centre for stem cell manufacturing, extensive translational and clinical facilities, biomedical sciences research laboratories, and the CÚRAM Centre for Research in Medical Devices. This is further strengthened by NUI Galway’s expertise in funding grants, knowledge transfer, and programmes such as BioInnovate and BioExel. BioExel is a partnership programme funded by Enterprise Ireland, Galway Foundation Office, Bank of Ireland seed and early stage equity fund, Western Development Commission and hosted by NUI Galway. The Medtech Accelerator programme is part of Enterprise Ireland’s overall strategy to increase the number and quality of start-ups that have the potential to employ more than ten people and achieve €1 million in export sales within three years. BioExel has the potential to support up to 14 Small to Medium Enterprises (SME’s) based in the western region from 2017 to 2019. Bank of Ireland Seed and early stage equity fund have committed €300,000 to this programme. A call for further participants will be made this summer 2018. For more information about the programme, visit: www.bioexcel.ie -Ends- 

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

First year students from Coláiste Iognáid in Galway win two BT Young Scientist awards for their project, ‘Think Before You Drink: Microplastics’  Three young Scientists Aoibhe Briscoe, Ellie Concannon, and Kate Owens, first year students at Coláiste Iognáid in Galway, competed for this year’s BT Young Scientist and Technology Awards in the Category Biological and Ecological Sciences with their project ‘Think Before You Drink: Microplastics’. Mentored by NUI Galway, the students won first place in their category and a special award issued by the Environmental Protection Agency for Best Environmental Project presented at the BT Young Scientist 2018. For their project they investigated over 40 tap water samples from 23 primary schools in County Galway for microplastic contamination. They found that 96.9% of all tested samples were contaminated with microplastics and that the level of contamination for drinking water from Galway classrooms (2.7 per 500ml) exceeded the European average of 1.9 per 500ml. The analysis of the samples took place in the lab facilities of the School of Geography and Archaeology at NUI Galway under the guidance and supervision of Dr Audrey Morley a lecturer in Physical Geography and member of the Ryan Institute for Environmental, Marine and Energy research. Dr Morley advised and trained the young scientists on sample collection and analysis and ensured that all procedures followed previously published protocols for microplastic extraction from tap water samples from a global study commissioned by  the journal Orb in 2017*. In addition to the analysis of the tap water samples, contamination controls were measured at regular intervals throughout the experiment to assess and assure the validity of the results. Speaking about the young scientists work on the project, Dr Audrey Morley at NUI Galway, said: “The identification of microplastic using a microscope can be tedious and time consuming, requiring focus and concentration by the analyst. I was very impressed with the level of dedication and persistence that Aoibhe, Ellie, and Kate brought to the project. It is great to see young women so excited about science and determined to bring about change.” BT Young Scientist winner, Kate Owens, said: “The BT Young Scientist experience has inspired me to be part of solving the problems of the future. President Michael D. Higgins spoke to us about Africa being the largest populated continent in the world and the need for young people to be part of developing solutions for the challenges this presents.” “It was a revelation to us that our love of fast fashion is polluting our drink water, simply by washing the clothes we wear. 77.8% of the contamination we detected in the schools water supply were microfibres. Synthetic fabric fibres that are so small that they could not be filtered by the public water works. Plastic bags and bottles, you can actually see and remove, but you cannot see these tiny, almost invisible microfibres that are bio-accumulating in our bodies, now that is truly scary.” Kate added: “Aoibhe, Ellie and I are a great team and we work well together. Audrey’s guidance and patience gave us a solid, scientific method to undertake our testing and that was the key to our credibility. We were total beginners and she was so incredibly generous with her time. We learned so much from her! We felt that our findings were important and that with our presentation ‘sizzle’, we could get politicians to listen, so we practiced our pitch, over and over until we could say it in our sleep and fine-tuned it over the four days at the RDS. Dressed in our lab coats, no-one was safe and we cornered many politicians including Richard Bruton, Micheál Martin and Heather Humphreys. Leo Varadkar got away but we will be looking for him at the Mansion House in May 2018.” Fellow BT Young Scientist winner, Aoibhe Briscoe, said: “I think the BT Young Scientist competition was an amazing experience, we got to meet so many new people and had the chance to learn so many new things. Working in the lab with Audrey was really fun and I enjoyed it so much, it was very time consuming and tiring but every second put into our project was worth it in the end. It has definitely made me more interested in science and I will definitely do it again next year.” BT Young Scientist winner, Ellie Concannon, added: “I would like to do something that makes a change, I would like to speak out for the people who don’t have a voice. I want to have fun, face challenges, and realise my potential in life. The BT Young Scientist competition was an amazing experience, we were able to share our project with lots of people and educate people about our project who had never heard about microplastics, and we were also able to influence people’s choices for the better. We had such a good time we met loads of new people and got to meet people who could really help us with our project. I absolutely loved it.” -Ends-  

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

A research project led by NUI Galway has established that companion robots can have a positive impact on older people living with dementia. Such is the impact of this research, it has been featured in a new European Commission study analysing the impact on society of EU-funded research and innovation in technology for active and healthy ageing. The MARIO project is among 25 projects credited, and the only one in Ireland, with having had the most influence in Europe over the last 11 years. The project is also being featured across Europe this week on the EuroNews TV channel’s Futuris science programme. Welcoming the listing among the top 25 projects, Professor Dympna Casey from the School of Nursing and Midwifery at NUI Galway, and MARIO project coordinator, explained: “Loneliness is a key public health concern across many age groups and especially for older people with dementia. We know that social health and social connectedness are important to the quality of life of people with dementia. Human companionship is the best way of promoting social health but the reality is that our health care services do not have the resources to provide this service. So we devised MARIO to be there for people living with dementia.” To develop the companion robot for people with dementia, NUI Galway put together a consortium of experts from the health care sector, robotics industry and dementia groups. This led to the three year EU Horizon 2020 MARIO project (Managing Active and Healthy Aging with the use of Caring Service Robots), funded by the Framework Programme for Research and Innovation. The project involved five EU countries and a team of up to 40 people, and has just reached completion.   A key feature of the project was the user-led design in that the robot was developed with and for people with dementia. The result was MARIO, a 4.5 foot white robot with large animated eyes who can be activated by voice or by a touchscreen which he carries. This allows people with dementia to access the newspapers, listen to their favourite songs, provide reminders of upcoming events, store family photos and connect with their friends and families. Pilot testing of the MARIO robot was carried out with people with dementia and caregivers at three sites in Ireland, the UK and Italy for a period of over 12 months. Professor Casey added: “MARIO was an ambitious project from the beginning. We managed to combine an array of expertise through pan-European partnerships. We brought together expertise in robotics, semantic data analytics, artificial intelligence and interactive touchscreen technology, as well as healthcare and nursing knowledge. However, the most critical element were the older people with dementia and their caregivers, who welcomed MARIO into their lives and allowed us, through their insights and knowledge, to make MARIO into the success he has become.” According to a European Commission review of MARIO: “Providing adequate care to the elderly is essential to ensure that Europe’s senior citizens are able to spend their later years living a healthy, happy and independent life. But without support, many face loneliness, a lack of mobility and exercise, and forgetfulness on a daily basis. However, with the use of modern technology and particularly the development of robotic solutions, Europe’s elderly population can feel young again and lead a much safer and richer life.” The European Commission study considered the key achievements from ICT for Health research projects funded under FP7, the Competitiveness and Innovation Programme (CIP) and Horizon 2020. In doing so it provides a useful consolidated insight across the ‘technology for active and healthy ageing’ portfolio. Ageing poses one of the biggest economic and social challenges for this century. It is estimated that by 2025, more than 20% of Europeans will be 65 or over, and by 2060, one in three Europeans will be aged 65 or over. Furthermore, the ratio of working people to the ‘inactive’ others will shift from 4 to 1 today to 2 to 1 by 2060. To read the European Commission study, Top 25 influential ICT for Active and Healthy Ageing projects, logon to: https://ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/en/news/top-25-influential-ict-active-and-healthy-ageing-projects To watch MARIO on EuroNews, visit: http://www.euronews.com/2018/04/06/me-and-mario-robots-that-care -Ends-

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

The Whitaker Institute at NUI Galway will host its Annual Research Day on Thursday, 19 April in the Hardiman Research Building. Professor Edgar Morgenroth from DCU Business School will give a keynote address at 12pm on ‘The Economics of Spatial Planning’. The population of Ireland is projected to increase by one million in 2040 and the Whitaker Research Day will address issues on: How best should government encourage growth in second-tier cities such as Galway to rebalance the country’s economic activity and reduce the pressure on the greater Dublin area? What can be done about the challenges of urban sprawl, congestion and long commutes into our cities? How should we address depopulation in areas of the West of Ireland? Speaking in advance of the Research Day, Professor Alan Ahearne, Director of the Whitaker Institute at NUI Galway, said: “The Irish economy has experienced a remarkable recovery over recent years, but current trends in patterns of regional growth are not sustainable. Greater, smarter investment is needed in smaller cities such as Cork, Galway, Limerick and Waterford to narrow the gap between Dublin and the rest of the country. We need to invest in infrastructure, in new technologies, and, above all, in the skills and talent of our people.” In his former role at the Economic and Social Research Institute, Professor Edgar Morgenroth helped advise on the framework for Project Ireland 2040, the government’s recently launched strategy for Ireland’s development up to 2040, which includes €116 billion in investment spending over the next decade. The Whitaker Institute at NUI Galway is named after the late Dr T.K. Whitaker, widely recognised for setting Ireland’s economy on a path of internationalisation and modernisation. Throughout his illustrious career, Dr Whitaker demonstrated and implemented innovative ideas and approaches to challenges and issues facing our economy and society. The Whitaker Institute has adopted a similarly innovative, multidisciplinary and transformative approach in its research on challenges facing business and society in Ireland today and internationally.   The event will take place in Seminar Rooms G010 and G011, Ground Floor, Hardiman Research Building, NUI Galway on Thursday 19 April.   Attendance is free. For registration and to download the full schedule, visit: http://whitakerinstitute.ie/event/whitaker-institute-research-day-2018/  -Ends-

Thursday, 23 August 2018

Bill Schmarzo, Chief Technology Officer, Internet of Things and Analytics at Hitachi Vantara, has been appointed Honorary Professor at the J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics at NUI Galway. Bill is the author of Big Data: Understanding How Data Powers Big Business and Big Data MBA: Driving Business Strategies with Data Science. Speaking frequently on the business value of big data and data science, he is considered the ‘Dean of Big Data’. Bill is an avid blogger and frequent speaker on the application of big data and advanced analytics to drive an organisation’s key business initiatives. Bill visited NUI Galway in March of this year, teaching on the MSc in Business Analytics programme. He also teaches at the University of San Francisco School of Management, where he is their first Executive Fellow. Commenting on the new appointment, Dr Denis Dennehy, Programme Director of the MSc Business Analytics, said: “We are delighted to have Bill join the academic team at J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics. Bill’s industry experience in business analytics and passion for teaching is a natural fit for the MSc in Business Analytics programme as our data savvy students develop the technical and business skills that are critical for creating business value from big data.” Bill’s developments include creating the Vision Workshop methodology that links an organisation’s strategic business initiatives with supporting data and analytic requirements. He recently completed a research project at the University of San Francisco titled ‘Determining the Economic Value of Your Data’. Bill’s background includes Chief Technical Officer at Dell EMC and Vice-President of Analytics at Yahoo. He was recently named the #4 Big Data influencer, #4 Data Science and #6 Digital Transformation influencer worldwide by Onalytica. For more information on the MSc in Business Analytics programme, visit: http://www.nuigalway.ie/courses/taught-postgraduate-courses/business-analytics.html -Ends-

Wednesday, 1 August 2018

Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) can now apply online to receive up to €60,000 in financial support to develop innovative ideas, products, and technology within the field of personal nutrition for older adults. NUI Galway is leading the market strategy on the H2020 ‘INCluSilver’ project which aims to support collaboration between SMEs from different sectors to create better nutritional solutions for older adults and improve their quality of life. A €3 million Innovation Voucher Scheme to develop new products and services in this area is currently open for applications with the closing date on Saturday, 15 September 2018. The projects must represent one of INCluSilver’s five collaborative sectors in: agro-food, health, packaging, ICT and creative industries. The INCluSilver project offers three types of innovation vouchers that range in value from €3,000 to €60,000. SMEs from the Republic of Ireland, Denmark, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Spain, Sweden, and the UK can apply. The three types of innovation vouchers include: The Ideas Innovation Voucher, which seeks to support the maturation of relevant ideas and project needs. The Proposal Innovation Vouchers, which seek to support: scalability and internationalisation, demonstration of technology readiness, transferability potential, and economic feasibility analysis. The Intellectual Property Rights Innovation Voucher, which seeks to support SMEs in protecting foreground and results of projects with appropriate tools. Dr Jane Walsh from the School of Psychology at NUI Galway and market strategy lead of INCluSilver, said: “This project provides an excellent opportunity for SMEs working in the nutrition field to avail of much needed support to develop their products.” Irish SMEs interested in applying for the voucher scheme can contact jane.walsh@nuigalway.ie  or further information. -Ends-

Friday, 20 April 2018

NUI Galway spin-out Westway Health has been awarded Best Agri Business in the Business All-Stars competition. Westway Health is developing and commercialising a range of non-antibiotic antimicrobial technologies, to kill all bacteria without allowing the emergence of resistant superbugs. The Business All-Stars competition final was one of the key elements of the Fourth Annual All-Ireland Business Summit powered by Audi, and held in Croke Park on Thursday 19 April. Westway Health is based at the Business Innovation Centre at NUI Galway, and has range of active development programmes in animal and human health. Its lead product in development is for the treatment of bovine mastitis. The Business All-Stars is an annual competition designed to identify, recognise and accredit Irish companies and individuals that have distinguished themselves in the conduct of their business over the last 12 months. Speaking at the event, Kieran F. Ring, CEO Global Institute of Logistics, Deputy Chairperson Adjudication Panel said: “The decision to award Westway Health with Best Agri Business 2018-19 is based on the score achieved in four rounds of intense competition.  The application, supported by references, interviews and independent ratings from the ‘mystery shopper’ process left the adjudication panel in no doubt that Westway Health is richly deserving of this award. We would like to extend our sincere congratulations to all concerned and we wish you every success for the future.” In response to the announcement Dr Ruairi Friel, CEO Westway Health which is based on the NUI Galway campus, said:  “On behalf of Westway Health I would like to express our sincere thanks to the judging panel for awarding us this prize. This is a great source of pride for us and recognition to the great team here at Westway Health who are developing our innovative novel non-antibiotic antimicrobial technologies. The process which led to this award truly stretched us, the structure of the competition required us to put our brand story on paper and gave us the opportunity to reflect on who we are, our growth strategy and above all the value we create for our target audience. The opportunity to hear first-hand feedback from our Judge-Mentor, our existing customers, partners and suppliers through the reference module combined with the results from the mystery shopper round was invaluable. We would like to thank all at the competition for making the effort to listen to our story, understand and accredit our business and above all help us to promote it.” Speaking at the summit, Dr. Briga Hynes, Kemmy Business School, University of Limerick, Chairperson Adjudication Panel summed up the entire process by reminding the enterprises honoured with All-Star that: “Westway Health has demonstrated an ability to innovate and has impressive growth plans which no-doubt reflects the resilience and optimism that are the hallmarks of Irish entrepreneurs. Westway Health bring a real inspiration for what is possible in business in Ireland and provide important role models for the many aspiring entrepreneurs and existing small firms.” In further success at Croke Park, OnePageCRM was awarded Business All-Star CRM at the All Ireland Business All Star Awards 2018.  In response to the announcement OnePageCRM CEO Michael FitzGerald said, “This was our first year taking part in the Business All-Star awards. It enabled us the opportunity to spread our story and encouraged us to put our best foot forward! So to be named an All-Star CRM is a superb achievement for the team.”  Based at NUI Galway's Business Innovation Centre, OnePageCRM launched in 2010  has grown from strength to strength with over 10,000 paying customers and 25 employees today. The competition finals benefited enormously from the atmosphere created at the All-Ireland Summit which was driven by the three key pillars of knowledge sharing, facilitating new business relationships and the continued improvement of business standards in Ireland, the All-Ireland Summit improves year-on-year – like so many of the great teams to have graced the hallowed turf of Croke Park. Both companies are now included in the 2018-19 All-Stars Role of Honour, the list is published annually to coincide with the All-Ireland Business Summit at Croke Park.  Applications for 2018-19's competition open on 1st June 2018. -ENDS-  

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Campus competition in medtech demonstration design Blackstone LaunchPad recently partnered with on-campus medtech titans, BioInnovate Ireland, Translational Medical Device (TMD) Lab, Health Innovation Hub and BioExel at NUI Galway, to challenge its undergraduate and postgraduate students to add their expertise and creativity to a growing innovation ecosystem across campus. The Medtech Innovation Design and Startup (MIDAS) competition is a one-day event where multidisciplinary student teams from across the NUI Galway campus worked together to tackle a major challenge in the medtech space. Teams were comprised of students from various disciplines – ranging from business to engineering to medicine to the life sciences – and attended interactive sessions and workshops delivered by domain experts. Six teams worked together to identify a potential solution to an unmet medical need using the Stanford Biodesign innovation process, and designed a prototype and created a business model for their device.  Based on their observations from a real clinical procedure, teams were asked to identify a needs statement related to this procedure and then brainstorm potential solutions. With their solution in mind, teams then developed a business model using the lean startup canvas and ultimately, pitched their venture to a panel of experts including: Mike Wiebolt, Blackstone, New York; Helen Ryan, Medtech angel investor; Dr Liz McGloughlin, BioInnovate Alumna; and Brian Carey, Bank of Ireland. Winning the competition and the recipients of the €2,000 prize fund were students Kemi Awoponle, Katie Gilligan, Cillian Thompson, Brian O’Reilly, and Manmaya Panda. The team presented a novel way to increase the shelf-life of blood bags in order to reduce the number of expired units that are binned each year. Natalie Walsh, Executive Director of Blackstone LaunchPad at NUI Galway, said: “This event showcased the high calibre of students that we have at NUI Galway. Seeing individuals come together to form high-performing teams within the day has been incredible. The ideas presented were well-researched and have potential within the medtech space. We are delighted to have such high calibre mentors, partners and judges spend time with our students today. It is a real endorsement for our programme and exemplifies how students can form part of this critical ecosystem in the West of Ireland.  This event was designed and led by one of our fantastic students Joshua Chao who works as a venture coach with the LaunchPad programme. He is an amazing ambassador for our programme and a real champion for student-led innovation and entrepreneurship at the University.” The success of the MIDAS competition has come on the back of a very productive few months for Blackstone LaunchPad at NUI Galway. The programme now supports over 5,000 students on-campus and in March 2018, the Blackstone LaunchPad global network announced a partnership with Techstars. Techstars will provide current Blackstone LaunchPad participants with access to their network of over 10,000 mentors, founders and investors; signature events; and world-renowned content and startup services. In the last 10 years, more than 1,000 Techstars portfolio companies have collectively raised over $4.4 billion in total funding, and are now valued at $11.4 billion. Blackstone LaunchPad is part of a portfolio of innovative programmes at NUI Galway supported by the Galway University Foundation; other programmes include BioInnovate, BioExel, EXPLORE, and TechInnovate. -Ends-

Thursday, 12 October 2017

The Irish Centre for High-End Computing (ICHEC) has been awarded Best Contribution to Data Science from an Academic Research Body at the 2017 DataSci Awards NUI Galway’s Irish Centre for High-End Computing (ICHEC) received the Best Contribution to Data Science award at the 2017 DataSci Awards for work in producing two high-resolution Numerical Weather Prediction simulations, which will enable ground-breaking climate research for Ireland. The data from these simulations has the potential to inform public policy, the Irish energy sector and a wide range of research in fields such as climate change trends, agriculture, disaster prevention, renewable energy, and socio-economic planning. ICHEC Climate Change lead Dr Paul Nolan said: “This work was made possible through Ireland’s national supercomputer Fionn and ICHEC’s expertise. Weather and climate shape economies and infrastructures that touch upon nearly every aspect of our daily lives, from food supply to recreational activities to energy resources.” Dr Nolan added, “We would hope that this recognition will showcase the importance of homogeneous, long-term, gridded datasets to be utilised within industry, research and public sectors.” The simulations were run on the ICHEC supercomputing systems with the research funded by an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) climate research project. The datasets were analysed in detail for energy applications. This energy research component was funded by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI). The aim of this work is to promote and make the data publicly available for researchers, policy makers, the general public and Irish industry. The provision of these datasets support Ireland's renewable energy commitments. For example, under the EU Directive on the Promotion of the Use of Renewable Energy (2009/28/EC, NREAP), Ireland is committed to ensuring that 16% of the total energy consumed in heating, electricity and transport is generated from renewable resources by 2020. -Ends-

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Galway City Council and NUI Galway have signed an agreement to formalise joint plans for collaboration and development in Galway city. The signing of the “Poitiers Declaration” means NUI Galway is the latest of the Coimbra Group of long-established, multidisciplinary research European universities to agree cooperation initiatives within their local socio-economic environment.   Galway joins cities from Barcelona to Vilnius in setting a programme of collaboration in areas as diverse as economic development, public transport and sport. Over the coming years, joint initiatives will include: Sharing the benefits and impact of research and education locally, nationally and internationally. Development of policies to attract companies as well as medical, social and cultural services and activities. Internationalisation of the activities of the University and the city. Support for the expansion of youth entrepreneurship directly linked to research. Rethinking of public transport and urban mobility, with attention to the needs of the student population. Promotion of sport among students and all citizens. Speaking at the signing, The Mayor of the City of Galway, Councillor Pearce Flannery said, “This is a unique occasion for Galway City Council to hold its meeting in the Aula Maxima and to sign and endorse the Potiers declaration to enhance collaboration between the University and Galway City Council.” The University has made it a strategic priority to serve and engage with its diverse communities through enhanced relationships on campus, in the region and around the world. As a hub for start-ups, and through extensive research collaboration with industry and public bodies, the University places a strong focus on supporting regional economies. Through community engagement and partnerships, particularly in the arts and sport, the University supports social and cultural development as part of a holistic approach to regional development. Speaking today, Dr Jim Browne, NUI Galway President added: “NUI Galway has a strong tradition of collaboration within our region, and we are delighted to formalise these commitments with Galway City Council. For our communities to flourish, we need an environment which cultivates talent. The West is renowned for this, and we look forward to working with Galway City Council to develop supports that encourage social prosperity and economic growth.”  -Ends-

Thursday, 28 September 2017

NUI Galway has this week announced the appointment of Natalie Walsh as Executive Director of Blackstone LaunchPad. Blackstone LaunchPad is a campus-based experiential entrepreneurship program open to students, alumni, staff and faculty; offering coaching, ideation and venture creation support. Blackstone LaunchPad is modelled on a successful program that originated at the University of Miami and was further expanded by the Blackstone Charitable Foundation. Professor Lokesh Joshi, Vice President for Research at NUI Galway, said: “Blackstone LaunchPad is an integral part of the vibrant innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem here at NUI Galway. Natalie has been instrumental in its success to date, which has seen the LaunchPad work with over 3,500 individual members of the NUI Galway community.  In her new role as Executive Director, Natalie will undoubtedly increase the positive impact the Launchpad has on entrepreneurial activities and ideation on campus.” Amy Stursberg, Executive Director of the Blackstone Charitable Foundation, said: “We are thrilled to have Natalie assume this leadership role with Blackstone LaunchPad at NUI Galway. We are grateful for her contributions to our growing global network to date and look forward to seeing Blackstone LaunchPad’s continued success at the University as Natalie takes the helm.” Prior to taking up the role of Executive Director of Blackstone LaunchPad, Natalie has worked as the Programme Manager of this initiative in addition to being the administrative lead on the original proposal which saw Blackstone LaunchPad choose NUI Galway as its first international site outside of the US. Natalie brings a decade of experience working in the technology and software space in addition to over 10 years’ experience working in senior roles at NUI Galway including leading the EU Horizon 2020 funding team which was announced as the highest performing Higher Education Institute in Ireland for the programme in 2015. She has worked across the public and private sectors as a mentor, program developer and lecturer. In 2016, Natalie was a finalist in the WMB Boots Empowering Women Awards.  Last week saw the announcement of the 2017 finalists and her work within the Blackstone LaunchPad programme has again been acknowledged for empowering female students on campus through a variety of supports and initiatives. The award ceremony will take place in the Shelbourne Hotel on the 2 October. A graduate of NUI Galway, with a Masters in Strategy, Innovation and People Management and a Bachelor of Commerce (Honours Degree), Natalie is also studying for a PhD in Entrepreneurship at Trinity College Dublin. Blackstone LaunchPad is co-funded by the Galway University Foundation and Blackstone Charitable Foundation. Blackstone LaunchPad at NUI Galway: http://www.nuigalway.ie/blackstonelaunchpad/ -Ends-

Thursday, 21 September 2017

NUI Galway, WestBIC and GMIT recently welcomed InBIA to Galway to share knowledge and explore opportunities for collaboration. InBIA is among the world’s largest member-based entrepreneurial support network and a leader in building thriving, sustainable entrepreneurial ecosystems, and supporting programs across a wide range of industrial sectors. In over 62 countries it represents 2,200 businesses, co-working spaces and entrepreneurship support organisations who are dedicated to encourage unique start-ups in their communities. InBIA is interested in integrating Galway’s dynamic start-up ecosystem with its international network of entrepreneurial supports. The meeting in Galway identified reciprocal opportunities for ‘soft-landing’ supports by facilitating west of Ireland early-stage companies to enter the US and other international markets, and for InBIA’s global network of companies to enter the EU through Galway’s start-up ecosystem. Fiona Neary, Innovation Manager at NUI Galway’s Business and Innovation Centre, said: “The region already has a strong brand globally in Research Development and Industry support, so we must continue to put the structures in place to ensure we are the go-to location for start-up supports, accelerator programmes, co-working spaces and other entrepreneurial supports committed to nurturing start-ups in the community.” InBIA’s visit was a timely follow-up to a recent report by WestBIC and Galway City Council on Enterprise and Incubation supports in Galway. An inadequate pipeline of suitable enterprise development space was identified as a key deficiency. The report also identified a key opportunity for greater co-operation between the key institutions supporting the region’s enterprise development ecosystem. As long-established key innovation enablers within this ecosystem, NUI Galway, GMIT and WestBIC deliver a closely aligned and complimentary portfolio of support measures for the start-up community. The meeting with InBIA explored further opportunities to combine these resources to enhance the participation of the west region in growing knowledge-based jobs, and accelerate regional enterprise creation. These supports are delivered from four Business Innovation Centers (covering over 120,000 square feet) including co-working space, company offices, labs, training, and innovation space. Collectively these facilities house over 160 innovative start-up companies, employ hundreds of staff, and offer enterprise supports and many regional initiatives such as; BioInnovate, Halo Business Angel programme, Enterprise Ireland’s New Frontiers programme, Blackstone LaunchPad, TechInnovate, Accelerator programmes, and the Empower Women’s Entrepreneurship programme. Chris Coughlan, Chair of WestBIC, says: “This opportunity could facilitate Galway to compete globally with the east coast not to mention other countries also trying to attract such start-ups to their market. By the reciprocal nature of such an arrangement, West of Ireland companies looking to enter the US market could avail of low cost support partners on the ground brokering more accurate targeting of relevant supports, plus supply of services as well as networking opportunity this brings to everyone.” “The opportunities for new business development in Galway and the West of Ireland are really exciting”, said Rick Officer, GMIT Vice President for Research and Innovation. “We look forward to working collaboratively with InBIA and our regional partners to resource and deliver even better enterprise supports. Together we can make Galway an internationally recognised hub for enterprise creation and incubation.” -Ends-

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Research excellence was celebrated at NUI Galway this week with the announcement of a series of high-profile awards at the annual Research and Innovation Symposium. The awards were made to members of the NUI Galway research community by the University’s President. Accolades included the annual President’s Awards for Research Excellence and the Ryan Innovation Award. Announcing the awards, which are now in their fourth year, NUI Galway President, Dr Jim Browne said: “These awards are made to members of our research community in recognition of their outstanding and innovative research. Today’s event is an important event in the University’s calendar. It is about recognising and rewarding the very significant research contributions made by our staff and the importance of this in enhancing the reputation of our University internationally. Research affects daily life in many ways and ultimately the goal of most research is to understand and enhance the world around us.” The 2017 Ryan Award for Innovation went to a team led by Dr Michel Dugon at the School of Natural Sciences, whose lab is exploring the venom of Irish spiders as a potential source of antimicrobial compounds. Dr Dugon’s team also included NUI Galway’s Dr Ronan Sulpice, Professor Olivier Thomas, Professor Vincent O’Flaherty and Professor Afshin Samali. The €25,000 Ryan Award for Innovation is aimed at recognising and facilitating the development and translation of innovative ideas in the area of environment, marine and energy, into outputs with societal and economic impact. This initiative has been supported by the Tony Ryan Trust and builds upon past generous support from the Ryan Family. In addition, the winners of the 2017 President’s Awards for Research Excellence were announced as: Early Stage Researcher Dr John Cullinan (School of Business and Economics) Dr Anne O’Connor (School of Languages, Literatures and Cultures) Dr Derek Morris (School of Natural Sciences) Established Researcher Professor Brian McGuire (School of Psychology) Dr Frances Fahy (School of Geography and Archaeology) Dr Paul Buitelaar (School of Engineering and Informatics) Research Supervisor  Professor Kieran Conboy (School of Business and Economics) Dr Conor O’Byrne (School of Natural Sciences) At the event, Professor Lokesh Joshi, Vice-President of Research at NUI Galway, spoke about the focus of the University’s research: “The purpose of our research is to benefit humanity, society and the economy. In pursuit of this, our talented and ambitious research community collaborate with other universities, companies and non-governmental organisations around the world. This capacity to collaborate means that our research reputation takes us from the west of Ireland, to the heart of Europe and into the top 1% of universities in the world.” The Research and Innovation Symposium also included an interactive panel session with a focus on early career researchers, as well on talks on Horizon 2020 by Dr Sean McCarthy of Hyperion, and Research Integrity by Dr Maura Hiney of the Health Research Board. -Ends-

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Pioneering project to determine the potential of a synthetic product to advance the study and treatment of respiratory disease CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices, based at NUI Galway, has recently signed a collaborative research agreement with Factor Bioscience, a US based biotechnology SME that is pioneering nucleic-acid and cell-based technologies to advance the study and treatment of disease, including respiratory disease. This is the US company’s first collaboration in Ireland. The project goal is to determine the translational potential of a synthetic product from Factor Bioscience for use in Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS). ARDS often affects the elderly and occurs when fluid builds up in the air sacs in the lungs and prevents them from filling with enough air. This means less oxygen is available to reach the bloodstream which deprives the organs of the oxygen they need to function properly. ARDS typically occurs in people who are already critically ill or who have significant injuries, and many people who develop ARDS don’t survive. Those who do can experience lasting damage to their lungs. “Factor engages in research collaborations to advance and deploy our technologies as quickly and broadly as possible”, says Matt Angel, Co-founder of Factor Bioscience. “We are an early-stage biotechnology company based in the Boston area with an Irish subsidiary, and we are looking to grow our operations in Ireland. By partnering with CÚRAM on this project we can access leading experts and resources in the medical device field, which will hopefully allow us to progress much faster in finding a better solution for patients suffering from ARDS. Currently we are developing synthetic protein-encoding RNA therapeutics using our patented and patent-pending chemistries and sequences. In the near term, we are interested in expanding our technology in the area of delivering these therapeutics to various tissues and organs in the body.” Dr Daniel O'Toole, a CÚRAM collaborator in the School of Medicine will coordinate the collaborative laboratory research at NUI Galway, said: “Factor Bioscience has an exciting panel of innovative and highly promising therapeutics that we feel have real potential to address unmet clinical needs. We’re looking forward to developing and testing these for treatment of a range of inflammatory and infectious diseases.” CÚRAM is working to develop a positive, long lasting impact on the MedTech sector as well as for patients suffering from chronic illness. The global financial cost of managing chronic illnesses are ever increasing and both clinical and economic needs have to be met. CÚRAM’s goal is to come up with affordable solutions to meet these needs. The project was developed following an introduction to both partners, facilitated by IDA Ireland in Boston. “I am delighted to have been able to make the introduction between CÚRAM and Factor Bioscience and to hear it has resulted in an exciting new research partnership”, said Ivan Houlihan, Vice President of IDA Ireland, Boston. “Making connections and facilitating introductions between companies and third-level institutions and research centres is a key function of IDA Ireland, we try to ensure the necessary skills, experience and research capabilities exist to drive their business forward.” Professor Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director of CÚRAM, said: “Key to our success is our collaboration with industry partners to continue to enhance medical device technologies and their clinical application. Through collaborations such as these we can strengthen the R&D capability in Ireland to support the growth of a vibrant start up community within the MedTech ecosystem.” -Ends-

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

The EU has given funding of €2.5 million, to an NUI Galway spin-out which is taking on the global challenge of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Westway Health was set up in 2012 to commercialise a breakthrough antimicrobial technology developed in NUI Galway’s School of Natural Sciences. Since its inception, the company has won multiple awards and is bringing to market a product for use in the dairy sector, based on its patented technology. Its novel antimicrobial technologies have a range of applications beyond animal health, including human health and environmental sterilisation, and the funding will be used to advance the development of the company's lead product in development for the treatment of bovine mastitis. The World Health Organisation has said antibiotic resistance is putting the achievements of modern medicine at risk. It has pointed out that organ transplantations, chemotherapy and surgeries such as caesarean sections become much more dangerous without effective antibiotics for the prevention and treatment of infections. Dr Ruairi Friel, CEO of Westway Health, explains further: “The growing emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria is now described as a ‘ticking time bomb’. This could return healthcare to a pre-antibiotic era, where common infections can become fatal. Our solutions are proving effective against all microorganisms we have tested, including antibiotic-resistant bacteria such as MRSA.” Westway Health’s innovative approach has been to find an alternative to antibiotics. “The genesis of the idea was knowing that there are other ways to kill bacteria like MRSA. This is done every day around the world using disinfectants for example, or through steam cleaning. What we have been able to develop is a new method of killing bacteria which does not harm living tissue. Our solution is based on a combination of compounds inspired by nature, and if we can develop and scale our solution we believe we can help tackle this global challenge of antibiotic-resistance. Based in NUI Galway’s Business Innovation Centre, Westway Health’s lead product in development is PanaMast™ LC, a disruptive product for the treatment of mastitis in lactating cows, with a further product, PanaMast™ DC, for treatment of dry cows in the company product pipeline, collectively a billion-euro market. Speaking about Westway Health’s prospects, Dr Ruairi Friel added: “Our trials have been very encouraging and the feedback from farmers is positive.” The company has specifically focused on the treatment and prevention of bovine mastitis (infection of the udder) which is a major health and economic issue, costing the dairy industry in the EU and US over €3 billion a year. Conventional antibiotics are currently used to treat mastitis. However, this solution has poor treatment outcomes, leading to culling of cows and lost milk revenues, as milk from cows treated with antibiotics must be withdrawn from sale for a period of time during and after treatment. Westway Health’s product, PanaMast, is the first non-antibiotic solution meaning farmers can continue to sell milk during and following treatment.  As up to 80% of dairy cows exhibit some signs of infections at some stage each year, this will have a major impact on the bottom line of farmers and milk producers. In 2013, the company won the IntertradeIreland Seedcorn Competition and secured a Horizon 2020 SME Instrument Award in 2016. -Ends-

Friday, 14 July 2017

NUI Galway will test leading international concepts for the next generation of tidal and hydrokinetic turbine blades to power the world The MaRINET2 project has awarded €1.3 million to 34 technology development teams through a competitive call for proposals. This support will accelerate the next generation of offshore renewable energy technologies towards the marketplace by providing technology testing at MaRINET2’s network of world-leading testing facilities. Coordinated by MaREI (Marine and Renewable Energy Ireland), MaRINET2 is a €10.5 million project, funded by the European Commissions’ Horizon 2020 programme. The project provides support to technology developers of offshore wind, wave and tidal technologies to test their devices in research facilities and in real sea conditions. It is a continuation of the highly successful MaRINET project which ran from 2011-2015. MaRINET2 project gives free access to testing facilities to companies and researchers all over the world with NUI Galway offering its state-of-the-art ‘Large Structures Test Cell’ at the large structures laboratory, located at the University’s Alice Perry Engineering Building, to test full scale tidal blades (up to 9 metres). As a result of the first call for proposals in MaRINET2, two technology development teams have been awarded funding to facilitate 50 days of testing in the state-of-the-art tidal turbine blade testing facility at NUI Galway. These teams are led by Scotrenewables Tidal Power Ltd in Scotland, a world leader in the development of floating tidal stream and run-of-river turbines, and Verdant Power based in the US, a world leader in developing marine and hydrokinetic technologies and projects, generating clean renewable energy from tidal and river currents. Dr Jamie Goggins, lead Principal Investigator of the Structures and Materials research area in the MaREI Centre, and who is responsible for the large structures test facility located at the Alice Perry Engineering Building at NUI Galway, said: “It is great that there was such great interest from tidal stream and river turbine developers to access our large structures test cell for free through the MaRINET2 programme. We look forward to working with Verdant Power and Scotrenewables Tidal Power Ltd to assist them in de-risking their technologies through rigorous testing in our laboratory.” Dr Jimmy Murphy, co-ordinator of MaRINET2 said the announcement would be a significant boost to the development of offshore renewable energy technology in Europe: “In order to bring their product to market, it is essential for technology developers to de-risk their technologies through rigorous and staged testing programmes. With today’s announcement, the MaRINET2 project is supporting 34 technology developers to do just that. “What’s more, by helping technology developers test at facilities across the EU, and encouraging knowledge sharing and collaboration, MaRINET2 is strengthening Europe’s position as a centre of excellence for offshore renewable energy research.” -Ends- 

Thursday, 6 July 2017

The north and west of Ireland is to benefit from an investment of over €3 million in research initiatives. The support has been granted to NUI Galway by an EU programme which supports innovative projects addressing regional challenges. NUI Galway will coordinate four projects and partner in an additional six as part of the Atlantic Area InterReg Programme. The national representative body for the Programme, the Northern and Western Regional Assembly, was at the University today (6 July) for the announcement. The NUI Galway-led projects are in the areas of sustainable fishing, biomedical devices, sustainable fuels and the marine economy. Speaking at the announcement today, NUI Galway’s President, Dr Jim Browne said: “Our University’s stated aim in research is to anticipate and serve the needs of society and economy. This becomes even more pertinent when we consider the needs of the region here in the west of Ireland, and our commitment to supporting those who live and work along the Atlantic seaboard. What these projects have in common, is that they seek to drive innovation to support the long term sustainability of our region - in a range of ways from the fishing industry to the biomedical industry, seeking to safeguard our environment by developing new energy sources and to support the marine economy as a whole.” The Atlantic Area InterReg Programme’s objective is to implement solutions to answer the regional challenges in the fields of innovation, resource efficiency, environment and cultural assets, supporting regional development and sustainable growth. Countries who are part of the programme include France, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom. David Minton, Director of the representative body for the Programme, the Northern and Western Regional Assembly, said: “The Northern Western Regional Assembly is striving to connect the strengths of our region and drive convergence to regional collaboration. NUI Galway is a world leader in the application of innovation and research to regional and national challenges. The University itself is an established cultural and learning asset. This funding will deliver a four-fold return on investment.” The four NUI Galway-led projects are: Cephalopods, Sustainable Fisheries and Chefs – ‘CephsandChefs’ Dr Anne Marie Power, Lecturer in Zoology and a member of the Ryan Institute at NUI Galway, is leading a project called CephsandChefs. The project will analyse ‘from sea to table’, the fishing and consumption of squid, octopus and cuttlefish (cephalopods). CephsandChefs will collect biological and socioeconomic data from different Atlantic area cephalopod fisheries to improve knowledge of the value chain and the factors affecting sustainability in the short and long term. Researchers will also investigate consumer eating habits in North and South Europe, and look at people’s willingness to adopt new products from this seafood class. This information will pave the way for the development and promotion of new products and new markets for the fishing and production sector, while ensuring the sustainability of fishing activity. Establishing a transnational advanced pilot manufacturing ecosystem for future biomedical products - ATLANTIC-KET-MED Dr Ger O’Connor, Senior Lecturer in Physics, and funded investigator in CÚRAM at NUI Galway, is leading a project called ATLANTIC-KET-MED, which aims to create new innovation capacity by establishing an inter-regional pilot manufacturing ecosystem by developing both human and infrastructural resources. The project will apply key enabling technologies such as photonics, nanotechnology, printed electronics, bioprinting, additive manufacturing and advanced materials to make a new generation of medical devices. In the longer term, the project will help establish regional productive systems for extracting greater value from the marine based biomaterials along the Atlantic area. Sustainable integration of renewable fuels in local transportation – SEAFUEL Dr Pau Farras, Lecturer in Chemistry at NUI Galway, will lead a project called SEAFUEL. SEAFUEL aims to demonstrate the feasibility to power local transportation networks using fuels produced by renewable energies and seawater, with no net carbon footprint. It will cover technical innovation by a demonstration plant in the Canary Islands. The project will then develop a framework for policy implementation and a sustainability analysis of production, distribution and usage of hydrogen as an alternative fuel in remote Atlantic regions including the Aran Islands. Maritime, Ocean Sector and Ecosystem Sustainability: fostering blue growth in Atlantic industries – MOSES Dr Stephen Hynes, Director of the Socio-Economic Marine Research Unit (SEMRU) at NUI Galway’s Whitaker Institute, will examine the size and growth of key strategic marine industries across the Atlantic Arc and will propose the ‘blue’ growth path for the sustainable development of the major sectors operating in the Atlantic space as envisaged in the Atlantic Action Plan and the EU Blue Growth Strategy. To achieve these aims, the project participants will build on the expertise gained in the EU INTERREG Atlantic IV project, Marine Atlantic Regions Network (MARNET). For more information about the Northern and Western Regional Assembly, visit: www.nwra.ie. -Ends-

Friday, 30 June 2017

NUI Galway publishes report on Ireland’s Ocean Economy that shows in 2016 the direct economic value of the ocean economy was €1.8 billion representing a 20% increase on 2014 NUI Galway’s Socio-Economic Marine Research Unit (SEMRU) has published its fourth report on Ireland’s Ocean Economy as part of their ongoing process of collection and analysis of marine socio-economic data in Ireland. Results from the report show that in 2016, the direct economic value of Ireland’s ocean economy was €1.8 billion or approximately 0.9% of gross domestic product (GDP), which represents a 20% increase on 2014 levels. Latest figures suggest that our ‘blue economy’ is performing better than the general economy. “This report shows Ireland’s ocean economy is experiencing sustained levels of economic growth both across established and emerging marine industries”, reports Dr Amaya Vega of SEMRU, based at the Whitaker Institute for Innovation and Societal Change at NUI Galway. Summary The ocean economy had a turnover of €5.7 billion in 2016. The indirect economic value in 2016 amounted to €1.57 billion, with a total direct and indirect value of €3.37 billion, which represents 1.7% of GDP. The ocean economy provided employment to over 30,000 individuals, full-time equivalents (FTEs) in 2016. Established Marine Industries had a turnover of €5.3 billion and provided employment to 28,231 FTEs in 2016, representing 93% of the total turnover and 94% of total employment in Ireland’s ocean economy in 2016. Oil and gas exploration and production, marine aquaculture and tourism and leisure in marine and coastal areas, all experienced a significant increase in activity, with turnover, GVA and employment increasing across the sector in the 2014-2016 period. The shipping and maritime transport sector also exhibited increases, albeit of a smaller scale, across all three variables. Emerging Marine Industries had a turnover of €383 million and provided employment to close to 2,000 FTEs representing 7% of the turnover and 6% of employment in Ireland’s ocean economy in 2016. Advanced marine technology products and services and marine renewable energy experienced the largest increases in turnover and gross value add (GVA), while employment rose in all emerging sectors in the 2014-2016 period. Dr Stephen Hynes, co-author of the report and director of SEMRU at NUI Galway, points out: “Our latest ocean economy figures demonstrate that Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth is moving steadily towards its 2030 targets. The latest data demonstrates the growing influence of ocean related economic activity in our economy but it should also be kept in mind that the influence of the ocean on Irish society is even more pervasive than indicated by these figures. The ocean also provides key ecosystem services that underpin many of the identified marine industries and is integral not just to the economy, but also to our culture. SEMRU is currently also examining the value of some of these non-market benefits of the ocean.” The Marine Institute also welcomed publication of the report on Ireland’s Ocean Economy with Dr Peter Heffernan, CEO commenting: “The very latest figures on Ireland’s Ocean Economy from SEMRU at NUI Galway show that Ireland’s ‘blue economy’ continues to outperform the general economy. These very timely marine economic statistics are a key action of the Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth Strategy and are essential for evidence-based policy making and decision making. It’s really encouraging to see that established sectors are performing so well, and that emerging sectors such as advanced marine technology products and services and renewable energy are experiencing rapid growth in Ireland’s ocean economy.” ‘Harnessing our Ocean Wealth’ Targets: Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth (HOOW) – An Integrated Marine Plan for Ireland, published in July 2012, outlines a number of specific targets which seek to expand Ireland’s ocean economy. One of those targets aims to double its value to 2.4% of GDP by 2030. This 2.4% figure was based on a total estimate (both direct and indirect Gross Value Added) in 2007 for the Irish Ocean economy that amounted to 1.2% of GDP at that time. The total direct and indirect value of the Irish ocean economy is estimated in the new report to be €3.37 billion which represents 1.7% of total GDP in 2016. Based in the Whitaker Institute for Innovation and Societal Change at NUI Galway, SEMRU conducts research on a variety of marine related issues. The main research focus of the unit is on the economic importance of coastal and off-shore marine environments. This involves examining the economic utility of the marine environment (transportation, recreation) and ecological value (fisheries, aquaculture) derived from the productivity of associated ecosystems. The coastal and contiguous marine environment surrounding Ireland and the EU in general provides the geographical focus for the research carried out in the unit. Consideration of the human dimension in the management of marine ecosystems is also a critical component of all research projects undertaken. Since its establishment in 2009, SEMRU has been successful in attracting research funding to support the expansion of its marine socio-economic research programme. The unit is now a partner in a number of European-funded projects in the area of the socio-economics of the marine environment. Ireland’s Ocean Economy Report Series is carried out with the support of the Marine Institute and is funded by the Irish Government’s Marine Research Programme (Grant-Aid Agreement No. PBA/SE/16/01). The full report is available to download online at: www.nuigalway.ie/semru/publications.html. For more information on SEMRU, please visit www.nuigalway.ie/semru/. -Ends-

Thursday, 29 June 2017

As part of SeaFest 2017, which opens this weekend in Galway, NUI Galway will host several events to celebrate and highlight the importance of business development and research in the marine industry. A two-day Marine Trade Show will take place this week 29-30 June, in a purpose-built marquee on the grounds of NUI Galway, to coincide with the Digital Ocean Conference and Our Ocean Wealth Summit as part of SeaFest 2017. The Marine Trade Show will showcase some of the highly innovative products and services emerging from companies across all sectors of the marine economy. Over 60 organisations will display their products and services in the Trade Show marquee on the College Lawn and in the Bailey Allen Hall at NUI Galway where exhibitors will showcase their cutting-edge research and products that contribute to the marine industry. Participating industry exhibitors include; Microsoft Ireland, Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Sea Fisheries Protection Authority, Circular Ocean, The Whitaker Institute, NUI Galway, Planet Ocean, Marine Institute – Ireland’s Digital Ocean, Diatec, InnaLabs, JFC Marine, RealSim Marine, Éire Composites Teoranta, Wood Group Kenny, Planet Ocean, Marine Institute – Ireland’s Digital Ocean and many more. On Friday, 30 June the Bailey Allen Hall at NUI Galway will host ‘Our Ocean Wealth Summit’. Now in its fourth year, the Summit forms a key part of the Government’s integrated plan for Ireland’s marine sector, Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth, and will bring together world renowned speakers, industry experts, business development agencies and the Irish business and marine research community for focused discussions on this year’s theme of ‘Rethinking Boundaries and Innovation for a Sustainable Marine Economy’. The Summit is sponsored by PwC Ireland. Speakers include Tom Kelley of award-winning global design and development firm, IDEO, who will inspire business leaders to engage in creative thinking and challenge perspectives to encourage new ideas and approaches on how Ireland can continue to transform its marine industry. Tom Kelley will be joined by a host of national and international thought leaders and industry experts including Dan O’Brien, Chief Economist of the Institute of International and European Affairs; Miguel Marques, Partner and Economist of the Sea, PwC Portugal; Terry Garcia, former VP National Geographic and CEO of Exploration Ventures; Andrew McDowell, VP, European Investment Bank; Wendy-Watson Wright, CEO of Ocean Frontier Institute Canada, and many more. The Digital Ocean – Ireland’s Marine Engineering and Technology Conference, will also be held as part of SeaFest 2017 and will take place on Thursday, 29 June. This event will build on the success of the inaugural Digital Ocean Conference in 2016 and will highlight how technology companies are driving new forms of innovation in Ireland’s blue economy. Ireland is internationally recognised as a leading hub for marine technology innovation due to its significant marine resource, its leading technology expertise and its world-class test-bed infrastructures. The conference will feature a selection of international marine technology companies; innovative Irish Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs); and Ireland's world-class technology and research centres. The programme will focus on specific opportunities for technology innovations to drive the global blue economy. A unique exhibition on Roald Amundsen’s expedition to the South Pole, Cold Recall – Roald Amundsen’s Reflections from the South Pole will continue to run in the main foyer of the O’Donoghue Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance. The exhibition is based on images from the original lantern slides that Norwegian Polar Explorer Roald Amundsen used in public lectures about his expeditions through the Northwest Passage and to the South Pole. Amundsen was the first in the world to navigate the Northwest Passage and the first to reach the South Pole on 14 December 1911. Norwegian Polar history is closely connected to defining Norway as an independent state in 1905, and to Norway’s position as a state closely connected to the oceans and to polar regions. The exhibition runs until 8 July 2017. University President, Dr Jim Browne said: “NUI is delighted to partner with the Marine Institute in bringing SeaFest to Galway. We’re particularly pleased to be able to host the important marine conferences - Our Ocean Wealth Summit and Digital Ocean - here on our campus. These events, along with the Trade Show, bring together leading policy-makers, industry leaders, entrepreneurs and academics to discuss the opportunities which Ireland’s marine economy offers.” President Browne, added: “NUI Galway is an international research leader in this field through the work of the Ryan Institute for Environment Energy and Marine research and the Whitaker Institute, where researchers at the Institute’s Socio-Economic Marine Research Unit (SEMRU) analyse the economic importance of the marine environment for a range of national and international bodies. In addition to the two conferences, we’re especially pleased to host the Framm Museum’s month-long exhibition Cold Recall – Roald Amundsen’s Reflections from the South Pole in partnership with the Norwegian Embassy and the Marine Institute. I look forward to welcoming visitors to NUI Galway to enjoy the range of wonderful events on campus associated with SeaFest and I congratulate the Marine Institute on their efforts in bringing such a wonderful event to Galway this year.” SeaFest will take place from 30 June to 2 July with events for all the family throughout Galway Harbour. For full details about Our Ocean Wealth Summit, visit: https://www.ouroceanwealth.ie/ and Digital Ocean Conference, visit: https://www.smartocean.ie/digital-ocean . For full event details visit www.seafest.ie, follow @Seafest_ie, SeaFest 2017 on Facebook or download the SeaFest App for free. -Ends-

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Researchers complete project with Longford company BMS to remove floating debris from storm water sewer systems bringing new products to international water treatment markets Researchers in civil engineering at the College of Engineering and Informatics in NUI Galway have recently completed a technology development project with Irish company Butler Manufacturing Services Ltd. The group at NUI Galway have evaluated one of the company’s products, the BMS Stormbreaker Defender, which is a unique device capable of removing floating debris, grit/sand and oils/hydrocarbons from storm water sewer systems. Due to the projected increase in extreme storm and weather events, such as the recently experienced Hurricane Ophelia, existing storm sewers are being put under severe stress due to blockages caused by a flush of materials (such as bottles, plastics, oils, sand) from the urban environment. The Stormbreaker Defender aims to tackle such issues by effectively intercepting and capturing the material before it clogs sewers or makes its way into watercourses, relieving stresses on water infrastructure resulting in significant savings in maintenance costs. The project, led by Dr Sean Mulligan and Dr Eoghan Clifford from NUI Galway, involved a comprehensive investigation of a full-scale model of the Stormbreaker Defender at the Hydraulic and Aerodynamics Laboratory at the University’s Alice Perry Engineering Building. Following the experimental testing and analysis, using in-house cutting edge equipment and instrumentation, the team generated substantial data sets representing the complex flow processes in the device which were used to validate its performance and develop new design tools for the Stormbreaker Defender. Dr Sean Mulligan, Research Associate at the College of Engineering and Informatics at NUI Galway, said: “It’s great to work with industry, and especially with indigenous Irish companies who are bringing innovative products to the world stage. We have a lot of expertise in fluid dynamics, wastewater treatment and commercialisation which allows us to bridge the gap between the laboratory and the field for companies like BMS.” Dr Eoghan Clifford, lecturer at the College of Engineering and Informatics at NUI Galway, said: “The project is part of ongoing research undertaken at the department of civil engineering in collaboration with industry and highlights the significance of academic-industrial partnerships in pushing innovative ideas and theories developed by both universities and industry to solve real-world problems in the field.” Based in Longford, Butler Manufacturing Services is a specialist designer and manufacturer of products for the water treatment sector. The company employs 20 people and has products in over 40 countries worldwide. “The opportunity to collaborate with NUI Galway and to access their expertise and facilities, allows us to optimise and evaluate the performance of our BMS Stormbreaker Defender”, said Seamus Butler, Managing Director of Butler Manufacturing Services. “We believe this successful project is the start of a strong partnership between both the NUI Galway research team and our company over the coming years. We are already in discussions with the University on an expanded exploration of this product into wastewater treatment.” To support the expansion of this technology to export markets, Butler Manufacturing Services engaged with the civil engineering research team at NUI Galway. Through an Enterprise Ireland Co-Funded Innovation Voucher, the University was able to undertake a hydraulic evaluation of the technology. -Ends- 

Monday, 13 November 2017

Recent measurements in homes in the West of Ireland have found radon levels equivalent to receiving in excess of 20 chest x-rays per day Researchers at the School of Physics in NUI Galway have found that radon gas levels in houses and buildings in certain parts of Ireland are in excess of levels set by the Environmental Protection Agency. The National Radon Control Strategy for Ireland has identified knowledge gaps, including the optimum specifications for passive soil depressurisation systems that take account of Irish building practices. The NUI Galway research project, OptiSDS is investigating several of these knowledge gaps. The World Health Organisation has categorised radon as a carcinogen, in the same group as asbestos and tobacco smoke. In Ireland, up to 250 cases of lung cancer each year are linked to exposure to radon. There is a synergistic effect between radon and tobacco smoke. This means that smokers are at much greater risk of developing radon related lung cancer than non-smokers. There is no scientific evidence linking radon with any other types of respiratory illnesses or other cancers. Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas. It has no taste, colour or smell. It is formed in the ground by the radioactive decay of uranium which is present in all rocks and soils. You cannot see it, smell it or taste it. It can only be measured with special detectors. Outside radon is diluted to very low levels. Radon can enter a home from the ground through small cracks in floors and through gaps around pipes or cables. Indoor radon levels can vary across the country from low levels to tens of times in excess of the reference level set by the Environmental Protection Agency. Recent measurements in homes in the West of Ireland have found radon levels equivalent to receiving in excess of 20 chest x-rays per day. Dr Mark Foley Academic Director of the Masters in Medical Physics at NUI Galway, said: “This Environmental Protection Agency funded OptiSDS project is a good example of collaborations between engineers and scientists in NUI Galway and also with collaborators across Europe to address knowledge gaps in radon research. Through outreach events we are also promoting public awareness of radon risk, radon measurement, radon mitigation and radon preventative techniques.” Dr Jamie Goggins, Principal Investigator in the Centre for Marine Renewable Energy Ireland (MaREI) at NUI Galway, said: “One of the main aims of the project is to determine the effectiveness of soil depressurisation systems at extracting radon from under buildings. We are doing this through controlled laboratory tests at NUI Galway, in the development of robust numerical simulations and using a specially designed pilot house in a high radon area in Spain, in collaboration with Professor Luis Quindos in the University of Cantabria. It is imperative that we design and construct safe, healthy, comfortable and energy efficient buildings.” The OptiSDS research project will feature on the RTÉ One show, ‘10 Things to Know About’ series opener today, Monday 13 November at 8.30pm, a week after European Radon Day. This research project is funded by the Environmental Protection Agency. For more information about the OptiSDS project, visit: https://www.nuigalway.ie/science/schoolofphysics/research/optisds / -Ends-

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

An innovative multidisciplinary aquaculture project led by NUI Galway and Athlone Institute of Technology is set to improve production efficiencies and management of farmed fish at several inland freshwater sites. The project ‘ECOAQUA’ has received €348,781 in funding under the European Maritime Fisheries Fund (EMFF), administered by Bord Iascaigh Mhara, through the Knowledge Gateway Scheme, on behalf of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. The output of this project will include new information, new methods, and increased awareness. It has built on capacity for, and developed new partnerships focused on, research and innovation in environment and health. The project aims to test and optimise innovative technologies and processes developed through the linked MOREFISH* project. Led by Dr Eoghan Clifford from NUI Galway and Professor Neil Rowan from Athlone Institute of Technology, with support from Bord Iascaigh Mhara’s technical aquaculture team, ECOAQUA will address critically important needs identified by industry and aquaculture stakeholders including: Analysing the environmental and energy performance of three freshwater aquaculture sites by extensive sampling and remote online monitoring of water parameters. Facilitating the re-use of the treated water, thereby reducing both the volumes of extracted and discharged waters. Enabling the industry to meet stringent environmental regulation while increasing production in a sustainable and cost-effective manner. Piloting technological innovations with industry to ensure the research is easily and rapidly transferrable to the aquaculture sector. Ensuring technological innovations and research results can be leveraged to enable the sustainable growth of this high-potential sector. Enable the industry to leverage the scientific outputs from the project to communicate with government, policymakers and regulators and the public. Dr Eoghan Clifford from the College of Engineering and Informatics at NUI Galway, said: “Aquaculture is recognised to have the potential to address food security concerns in many countries and offer significant economic benefits. Ireland currently ranks as fifth in value and seventh in volume in terms of high value fish species with exports supporting approximately 2,000 jobs. However, the sector in Ireland has remained relatively stagnant and has significant potential to grow, develop export markets and create employment in rural areas. These developments are strongly aligned with Ireland’s FoodWise2025 policy that seeks to grow food exports by 85% to €19 billion by 2025. This research has the potential to introduce innovative monitoring practices, technologies that can enhance the value and sustainability of Irish and European fish stock densities while ensuring the environmental sustainability of the sector.” Professor Neil Rowan from Athlone Institute of Technology, said: “This exciting cross-cutting project leverages on a critical mass of engineering and scientific expertise, industry stakeholders, policy-makers, commercial operators and international experts established through the MOREFISH platform to respond directly to pressing environmental issues that were informed by industry. ECOAQUA will model and profile the global performance (focusing on algal, microbial and energy) of pilot freshwater aquaculture farms, which will ensure that high potential interventions are easily transferable to the industry sector ensuring the intensive sustainability and viability of this industry.” Mr Alan Kennedy, ECOAQUA project manager at NUI Galway, said: “This timely project will improve the water quality of freshwater farms through the incorporation of water treatment technologies and energy reduction interventions into existing flow through farms that will also enable seamless transitions to next-generation production formats.” Damien Toner, Aquaculture Technical Specialist with Bord Iascaigh Mhara, said: “Bord Iascaigh Mhara is delighted to support this innovative and collaborative project. ECOAQUA will provide valuable research into developing improved efficiencies in fish farming that will inform the wider industry on best practice and new technologies to improve sustainability. We are looking forward to working with the teams in NUI Galway and Athlone Institute of Technology on this exciting project.” For further information about the project contact Mr Alan Kennedy, Project Manager, ECOAQUA on 086 8093078 or michaelalan.kennedy@nuigalway.ie. -Ends-

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

The latest data from NUI Galway’s innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem shows a strong performance for 2017. The year saw significant high-quality collaborative research and license agreements with industry, and a number of new spin-outs created on campus. A programme was established on campus to provide new business innovators with the supports needed to accelerate their medical technology inventions to the market. Over 1,500 staff and students were actively engaged in entrepreneurship through the University’s education and mentorship programmes, Blackstone Launchpad and Explore. David Murphy, Director of NUI Galway’s Technology Transfer and Innovation Office, said: “To maximise the impact of our research and expertise, NUI Galway puts a strong focus on knowledge transfer, innovation and enterprise collaboration. Galway and the west of Ireland is a thriving and dynamic place for enterprise and entrepreneurs. With a student body of over 18,000, immense research outputs, and an annual research income of over €50 million, our University plays a crucial role in underpinning this ecosystem.” This year’s new spin-outs bring the number of campus-based companies to 34, including other spin-outs and local companies who are based on campus. Two of the new enterprises created on campus this year have the potential to benefit society through novel medical devices and diagnostics technologies: Loci Orthopaedics Ltd, which originates from the BioInnovate Programme and is set to commercialise an innovative orthopaedic thumb implant; and Bioprobe Diagnostics Ltd, emanates from the research of Drs Tom Barry and Kate Reddington from NUI Galway’s Discipline of Microbiology, and has been established to commercialise novel nucleic acid diagnostics technologies for the detection and identification of microbial contaminants associated with the environmental and industrial sectors. NUI Galway provides business supports and excellent facilities including laboratories and co-working spaces to support research and collaborative innovation. Fiona Neary, Manager of the Business Innovation Centre at NUI Galway, said: “This community of entrepreneurs is creating jobs and attracting investment, and the calibre of spin out’s from NUI Galway is testament to the high level of research taking place on campus, which is good for the region.” The Business Innovation Centre is very active in applying for the Horizon 2020 Small to Medium Enterprise instrument grants with four client companies already being successful in 2017 with many more progressing in 2018. Two successful companies in 2017 include: NUI Galway spin-out Westway Health, which is taking on the global challenge of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, was given funding of €2.5 million by the EU in 2017; and DiaNia Technologies, a start-up who received over €2.5 million in Horizon 2020 funding. Cresco, who specialise in securing international grants and funding for technology-based clients have also established a presence on campus to support these activities. NUI Galway-based entrepreneurs attracting significant attention this year with a number of them receiving accolades include: Dr Brendan Boland, BioInnovate fellow and CEO of NUI Galway spin-out, Loci Orthopaedics, who was the recipient of Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur in the ‘Best New Idea’ category. The company was also the winner of the start-up contest at this year’s Medtech Ireland conference in Galway in October. AuriGen Medical and Loci Orthopaedics were winners in the EIT Health: UK-Ireland HeadStart/Proof-of-Concept Awards. Sarah Loughney, CEO and Founder of Kite Medical was selected by The HealthTech Venture Network as their 2017’s ELEVATE pitch competition winner in Boston. Orreco and Channel Mechanics scooped the IT Association of Galway awards in 2017. NUI Galway Research centres and programmes are also gaining recognition for their contribution to innovation with CÚRAM, the Centre for Research in Medical Devices winning the top award for Academic Contribution to Medtech at the recent Irish Medtech Associations Medtech Rising: The Irish Medtech CEO Conference and Awards ceremony. In recent years, the University has put a particular focus on innovation. In 2017, it saw the launch of Ireland’s first medtech accelerator, BioExel, which will significantly accelerate medtech opportunities which have a specific technical, commercial and/or clinical question to answer in an intensive six-month period. January 2018 will see the first cohort of companies based on campus working with BioExel. BioExel is a partnership programme funded by Enterprise Ireland, Galway University Foundation, the Western Development Commission and Bank of Ireland Seed and Early Stage Equity Fund, originated and delivered by an experienced Medtech team at NUI Galway. 2017 also marked the seventh year of BioInnovate, the medtech fellowship programme on campus which has resulted in three high-potential spin-outs, with two more in the final negotiation stages and a healthy pipeline of further companies expected. In total, the companies have attracted almost €14 million in a first round of investments. Among NUI Galway staff and students, entrepreneurship is also encouraged and supported at every level. The University’s Blackstone Launchpad is a multi-award winning entrepreneurship programme for staff, students, and alumni at NUI Galway. Since 2016, LaunchPad has supported over 4,500 students, coached over 1,500 sessions, and awarded over €40,000 in funding to support student ventures. In 2017, Coachbook, a student enterprise created, won the Enterprise Ireland Student Entrepreneur of the Year award. -Ends-

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

NUI Galway and Gas Networks Ireland are leading a new transport revolution as they introduce compressed natural gas (CNG) and renewable gas for trucks, vans and buses. The ‘Causeway’ project also marks a first for NUI Galway, as this is the first time that the University has been successful in securing a funding application from the European Union’s Connecting Europe Facility. The Causeway project received approval for €6.5 million co-funding from the European Commission. Causeway will see the development of a natural gas transport re-fuelling network in Ireland.  The project will support an overall nationwide roll-out of 70 compressed natural gas filling stations. In addition to this, a renewable gas injection facility will be built in 2018. This will introduce renewable gas into the natural gas network for the first time. The work which is undertaken in Ireland will be monitored and documented by NUI Galway. This research will then be fed back to gas operators all over Europe and will assist in the development of similar projects across the continent. Commenting on the project, President of NUI Galway, Dr Jim Browne, said: “This is a major project for NUI Galway to be involved in, as it will form the basis of the first use of an alternative, sustainable transport fuel in Ireland. Within our Ryan Institute for Environment, Marine and Energy Research, in particular, we have built up a track record in sustainability research and innovation. This includes decades of scientific and engineering expertise built up in the area of renewable gas. We look forward to NUI Galway playing a key role in distilling and disseminating the results and impacts of the Causeway Project, not only for the benefit of Ireland, but to provide learnings to other EU member states too.” Denis O’Sullivan, Head of Commercial at Gas Networks Ireland, explained the importance of the project to Ireland: “Transport accounts for over one third of all energy used in Ireland. The development of a natural gas transport network will significantly de-carbonise Ireland’s commercial fleet. CNG, and the soon to be introduced renewable gas, will play a major role in making transport in Ireland cleaner. Gas Networks Ireland is determined to play an important role in facilitating the development of this new, cleaner transport network. It is particularly important that the advances we are making through this project, and through the work of NUI Galway, will play a role in changing the transport landscape throughout Europe.”  The Causeway project, which is funded under the EU’s Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), will deliver a clean energy project for Ireland’s transport sector, and in doing so, provide a template for the rest of Europe. NUI Galway is leading the dissemination element of the €25 million project. Its work will facilitate new green energy developments across Europe. Professor Charles Spillane, Director of the Ryan Institute at NUI Galway, praised the application teams: “I congratulate both the Gas Networks Ireland and Ryan Institute teams that worked together diligently, over a couple of years, to bring about the success of the Causeway application to the EU’s Connecting Europe Facility – Transport. I thank current staff Pádraic Ó hUiginn, Dr Rory Monaghan and Suzanne Nolan, amongst others, for enabling the University’s involvement in this successful application. I look forward to the infrastructural roll-out by Gas Networks Ireland and to its impacts, which will be studied and disseminated by a Ryan Institute team at NUI Galway.” -Ends-

Thursday, 21 December 2017

NUI Galway is developing a suite of unobtrusive, wearable electronic devices to help manage the debilitating motor symptom of Parkinson’s disease, referred to as Freezing of Gait. The first generation of the system resulted from NUI Galway’s involvement in the €4.7 million European FP7 project, REMPARK, which had 11 partners across Europe including NUI Galway. As part of this project the University has developed a novel wearable electronic device, called ‘cueStim’, designed to prevent or relieve Freezing of Gait, which is commonly described by people with Parkinson’s, as a feeling as if their feet are stuck or glued to the floor preventing them from moving forward. Dr Leo Quinlan, lecturer in Physiology at the School of Medicine in NUI Galway, and the project’s Co-Principal Investigator, said: “The severity of Freezing of Gait depends on the stage of the disease and it can have a very severe impact on quality of life, affecting people with Parkinson’s ability to walk for extended periods of time and is a common cause of falls in Parkinson’s disease.” The Human Movement Laboratory at the CÚRAM Centre for Research in Medical Devices at NUI Galway, is currently working to further enhance the technology, particularly in the area of usability and human factors through the project ‘EScapeFOG’. To achieve this goal, NUI Galway is partnering with Parkinson’s support groups to test and evaluate the usability and human factors of the system. Professor Gearóid Ó Laighin, Professor of Electronic Engineering in the School of Engineering and Informatics at NUI Galway, and project Co-Principal Investigator, commented: “We are using what is referred to as a User Centred Design methodology, to ensure that the developed technology meets the needs of the intended users. This involves testing all aspects of the system with the Parkinson’s community and seeking their feedback on its usability throughout the design process.” The Human Movement Laboratory at NUI Galway is currently involved in a very effective collaboration with the Clare Parkinson’s Support Group on enhancing the design of the cueStim system, to more effectively meet the needs of people with Parkinson’s using this technology. A recent usability and human factors workshop held at the University was attended by 16 members of the Clare Parkinson’s Support Group. T.J. Waters, PRO for the Clare Parkinson’s Support Group, said: “The opportunity to view at first hand the research being undertaken to improve the quality of life for people with Parkinson’s was an experience not to be missed. Clare Parkinson’s Support Group members are delighted to have an active role in this exciting project, which will be of benefit ultimately to people with Parkinson’s throughout the world.” Any person wishing to participate in future studies involving this device can contact Dean Sweeney, the system’s lead designer at: dean.sweeney@nuigalway.ie and 089-2576449. The research was part-funded by the European Commission under the FP7 prgramme and Science Foundation Ireland. -Ends-

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Sean Kyne TD, Minister of State at the Department of Rural and Community Development has launched a new publication, Creative Economies in Peripheral Regions written by Dr Patrick Collins at NUI Galway and Professor James Cunningham at the University of Northumbria. Dr Collins and Professor Cunningham make their policy recommendations for supporting the growth of creative economies in peripheral areas. As a sustainable model for development, one that relies on the infinite resource of human creativity, it has the potential to act as a vital agent in the future growth of peripheral regions in Ireland. NUI Galway has long been recognised as a leading international centre for the creative arts, with strong specialisms in Drama, Theatre, Performance, Visual Arts, Creative Writing, Film, Digital Media and emerging areas in creative production and arts entrepreneurship. The University has formed strong partnerships with the creative arts sector, notably with such institutions as Druid Theatre, the Abbey Theatre and Galway International Arts Festival. In the book the authors make the case for vibrant, creative and cultural economies existing beyond large urban settlements in peripheral regions in Ireland. It is the first publication to map the existence of the creative economy beyond city boundaries. This work takes place within the context of an evolving consumer society where there is increasing recognition of a change in consumer patterns as the modern consumption era matures. Commenting about the new publication, Dr Patrick Collins from the School of Geography and Archaeology at NUI Galway, said: “This book is about putting a positive spin on the term ‘peripheral’. We provide evidence of people, inspired by their place, competing in international markets where the authenticity and creative nature of their produce is in high demand.” Dr Collins added: “As more and more people buy goods that they feel reflect their own individual identity, more of us are expressing ourselves by how we dress, what we eat, what we listen to and where we go on holiday. In doing this we are turning our back on mass produced goods and services. As the market for these kinds of goods laden with expressive values increases, the products from our peripheral regions become more desirable. We argue in the book that it is the connectedness to place; the use of more traditional production techniques; and the imbued sense of authenticity in the produce of the peripheral regions that makes them more and more marketable in a maturing consumer society.” Creative industries mentioned in the book include Telegael in Spiddal, County Galway, a leading feature film, TV drama and animation company with major global partners, which employs over 70 people in high value jobs and is co-producing projects with companies located all across the world, operating from a small village in the West of Ireland. And Druid Theatre, an organisation that produces critically acclaimed theatre productions inspired by the stories of the periphery and bringing them to audiences across Ireland and right around the world. By looking at how these products in more remote areas are produced, the productive practices seen in the case study regions within the book are reflecting those of leading innovative industries. The book shows how creatives in remote regions, collaborate, co-produce, switch codes (writers and visual artists become theatre makers and game designers) that demonstrates an agility that is seen by many as key to productive success. By shining a light on the array of business models adopted by these industries the book highlights a sector that is more connected to its place, and its society in a way that is unique in the modern context. This book will be of value to those from a social science and business background and it will also be of interest to those within this growing sector and those that support it. -Ends-

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Cresco, a leading innovation company based in the UK, specialising in securing international grants and funding for technology based clients, has announced the opening of its first Irish office at NUI Galway’s Business Innovation Centre. NUI Galway is renowned for being a hotbed of innovation, particularly in the Medtech and Biotech industries with its ecosystem growing from strength to strength. The University’s Business Innovation Centre has supported numerous companies, both spin-ins and spin-outs from initial commercial road mapping to scaling up the business opportunity. They support the success of these companies by providing facilities on campus and the ability to carry out research, which is supported by funding bodies such as Enterprise Ireland, Science Foundation Ireland, the European Union and Horizon 2020. To date NUI Galway has been extremely successful in achieving Horizon 2020 grants in a number of funding applications. In 2017, a total of 22 Horizon 2020 proposals were awarded funding, securing almost €9 million in research funds. The Business Innovation Centre is also very active in applying for the Horizon 2020 Small to Medium Enterprise instrument grant with four client companies already being successful in 2017. To continue these funding success’ the arrival of Cresco to the Business Innovation Centre,  the experts in securing international and European grant funding to support academic research is a significant partnership for the University. With its headquarters in the UK, the Cresco team have been working with many Irish companies and have enjoyed unprecedented success winning funding applications through the Horizon 2020 programme. Particularly in phase two stage of applications where Cresco has won over €5.1 million for Irish clients in the last 12 months. Fiona Neary, Manager of the Business Innovation Centre at NUI Galway, said: “This is an exciting partnership with Cresco as NUI Galway continues to transform healthcare and the Medtech ecosystem. Our vision is to create innovative medical technologies which are affordable and transformative for patients with both acute and chronic conditions. This will bring us closer to the patient need, while also stimulating innovation and job creation through high-potential start-ups.” Jo Derbyshire, CEO of Cresco, said: “We are very excited to formally establish our Irish operations. We have been working with Irish clients for some time, and the opportunity of an office at the NUI Galway Business Innovation Centre is the ideal opportunity for us to build on the success we have enjoyed so far, Cresco Ireland is a key pillar of our ‘Brexit’ strategy.” This activity is supported on campus by the office of the Vice-President for Research, CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices, BioInnovate Medical Technology innovation programme and the first Medtech Accelerator in Ireland, BioExel, all operating from NUI Galway. The partnership with Cresco will lead to further grant potential with commercial impacts for Galway and the wider region, with many discussions already underway with potential University spin out’s and early stage start-up’s. The aim of the Business Innovation Centre is to create an environment which promotes entrepreneurialism and innovation, enhances spin out formation and new business growth. The centre gives companies a prime opportunity to benefit from the first class facilities available at NUI Galway. -Ends-

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Flag - A new taxi app designed for students will launch in Dublin City this December. The unique app is the only service in the world that allows a passenger to travel and pay for taxis with no phone, cash or bank card while ensuring the driver still gets paid. Flag originally started out as a college project called Dash while inventor Richie Commins was a final year Business Information Systems student at NUI Galway. Since graduating, Richie has combined business graduates and experienced engineers with taxi industry experience from the US and Romania, to upgrade the software into the version the App is today. The latest member recruited to the Flag team is the original founder of GoCar.ie, Michael Newham. The app is available in app stores as ‘Flag – The Taxi App’. This is similar to other taxi apps that allow you to get a taxi, however a feature unique to Flag is what is called “The wallet-less feature” where users are required to upload a photo ID and create a personal digit pin code to secure an account. If a situation arises such as a user's phone is dead, the user simply flags a taxi off the street, gives the driver their name and enters the four digit pin on the driver app. The user’s photo appears on the driver’s phone to confirm identity before the fare begins. Payment is processed from the user’s pre-registered card as normal upon arrival at the user’s destination. The creative and innovative app boasts pin point location, tracking and accurate ‘estimated time of arrival’ as well as extra safety features such as the wallet-less payment (the only taxi app in the world to provide this service). Richie has gained support from Enterprise Ireland, Nissan, AIB and many other organisations. Richie said: “I was lucky to eventually get a Chief Technology Officer who manages our large team of engineers to get the app ready for drivers and passengers in both iOS and android. When I started this in college we didn’t even have an app for the students.” An Garda Síochana also supported the project from the early days through their Campus Watch Programme at NUI Galway. Sergeant Pat Flanagan, Officer for Crime Prevention said: “The taxis that have integrated this app have really shown they care about passengers, and hopefully all taxis will soon be branded with the safety it brings.” The project has gathered an incredible momentum since the team were students. The team has decided to focus efforts on launching the upgraded app, Flag, in Dublin only. To show their gratitude for driver support and to encourage more drivers to see how good the app is, Flag will not be charging drivers any commission this Christmas. Flag plans to roll out across the country later in 2018. -Ends-

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

MaREI Researchers help win €9.39 million funding for GENCOMM project  An energy sustainability project in which NUI Galway is a key partner has been given the green light after winning an Interreg North-West Europe funding bid for the €9.39 million GENCOMM Project. GENCOMM aims to answer the energy sustainability challenges facing remote communities across North-West Europe through production and storage of renewable hydrogen. The project will build three pilot facilities fuelled by solar, wind and biomass energy sources to measure their ability to produce and store hydrogen. GENCOMM will assess hydrogen’s viability as a sustainable energy solution for heat, power and fuel for communities across North-West Europe. The NUI Galway research, led by MaREI (Centre for Marine and Renewable Energy) funded Investigator Dr Rory Monaghan, are charged with ensuring the long-term impact of GENCOMM by developing H2GO, an online tool to support investment decisions in hydrogen storage, and establishing CH2F, a community hydrogen energy forum, to drive the adoption of the technology. The project is led by Belfast Metropolitan College, and is one of the largest EU projects ever secured by a lead partner from Northern Ireland. On being awarded the Interreg North-West Europe Programme funding, Dr Monaghan, said: “With its exposure to the power of the Atlantic Ocean, NUI Galway and MaREI are at the centre of North-West Europe’s richest concentration of renewable energy potential. Storing that energy, converting it to a useful form, and transporting it to where it is needed are some of the biggest barriers to a sustainable future. By building pilot plants and applying the knowledge we gain through NUI Galway’s activities, GENCOMM aims to make a major impact on the viability of renewable energy.” Professor Lokesh Joshi, Vice-President for Research at NUI Galway, said: “The scope of the project and the size of the award are testament to the strength and innovative nature of the project and the high calibre of partner organisations, as we seek to work together to deliver hydrogen-based solutions that will help address energy sustainability challenges to communities across North-West Europe.” NUI Galway is working in conjunction with nine universities and companies across Europe to deliver the GENCOMM Project, including: Belfast Metropolitan College, University Institut National des Sciences Appliquées Rouen Normandie, IZES gGmbH, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, ENSICAEN – CNRS, Pure Energy Centre Scotland, and three further companies in Northern Ireland; Viridian, TK Renewables, and Williams Industrial Services. The NUI Galway GENCOMM team from the College of Engineering and Informatics comprises of Dr Rory Monaghan (Leader), Dr Padraig Molloy and Dr Ed Curry (Co-Leads), Mr Arya Gunawan (PhD Researcher), and Ms Rjaa Ashraf and Mr Wells Tang (Masters researchers). For more information on Project GENCOMM, visit: http://www.nweurope.eu/gencomm/ -Ends-  

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Novel approach to help breast cancer patients’ post-mastectomy wins award An innovative approach to help breast cancer patients post-mastectomy has been awarded the Inaugural Allergan Innovation Award at NUI Galway. Dr Niamh O’Halloran, a researcher with the School of Medicine at NUI Galway, received the award for her project which seeks to use the body’s own cells to avoid complications with implants. The Allergan Award for Innovation, valued at €6,000 provides funding to accomplished scholars who wish to advance their innovative research studies in the field of Life Sciences. The winner was chosen from a competitive field of applicants among the postgraduate and PhD student community at NUI Galway. Allergan, headquartered in Dublin, is a global pharmaceutical company and a leader in a new industry model, Growth Pharma. The company with commercial operations in 100 countries worldwide, is focused on developing, manufacturing and commercialising branded pharmaceuticals, devices and biologic products for patients around the world. Allergan operates four facilities in Ireland, employing 1,800 people, two manufacturing operations, one in Westport, Co. Mayo and one in Clonshaugh, Co. Dublin, a medical technology company ZELTIQ Aesthetics in Galway, and an international supply chain office in Earlsfort Terrace, Dublin. Speaking about the award Paul Coffey, Vice President and Plant Manager of Allergan, Ireland, said: “We are delighted to be partnering with NUI Galway for this year’s Allergan Innovation Award and congratulations to Dr Niamh O’Halloran. To mark 40 successful years of business in Ireland, we wanted to build on our longstanding relationships with communities through providing educational support to universities and colleges around the country, by reaffirming our commitment to the future of Life Sciences.  We wanted to recognise and support scholars who have excelled through innovation research in this field. We hope that this Innovation Award will inspire more students who wish to establish themselves within the field. Collaborating with a prestigious university, such as NUI Galway is an exciting initiative for all involved, and we look forward to the positive results and experiences it will bring for students and for our industry.” Breast cancer is a global pandemic, with the National Cancer Registry predicting that by 2020 there will be approximately 5,000 new cases in Ireland per annum. Despite advances in oncology and the dawn of the molecular era in cancer diagnosis and treatment, an estimated forty per cent of breast cancer patients require mastectomy. Immediate breast reconstruction has become an integral part of breast cancer care, affording psychosocial and aesthetic benefits. However, implants are not without their limitations and the response of the immune system to foreign materials in the human body can lead to complications. Dr Niamh O’Halloran from the School of Medicine at NUI Galway, said: “We want to develop a method of coating implants with a gel biomaterial which incorporates elements of the patient’s own fat tissue. The hydrogel is based on hyaluronic acid, most commonly seen these days in skin creams and beauty products. The patient’s own cells will grow on the gel, thus reducing scar tissue formation which leads to implant related complications.” “The aim is to develop biocompatible prosthetic implants preventing complications such as capsular contracture, implant extrusion and implant rupture and will negate the requirement of regular implant exchange. We hope this will reduce patient morbidity and operation costs significantly over time. A biocompatible implant coated with cellular tissue will also result in improved cosmetic outcomes for the patient, giving the patient a better quality of life”, added Dr O’Halloran. Professor Lokesh Joshi, Vice-President for Research at NUI Galway, commented: “Allergan are supporting a truly innovative concept here, which although at early stages of development, holds out real hope for patients. The calibre of applications for this award was very high, and I congratulate Dr O’Halloran on her success.” Dr Niamh O’ Halloran graduated from the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences at NUI Galway in 2014 and took up a research post with the University’s School of Medicine in 2015. She has also been awarded the Future Projects Prize at the 2017 Society of Academic and Research Surgery Annual Meeting for her work on the use of tissue engineering strategies in breast reconstruction post-mastectomy. -Ends-  

Thursday, 23 November 2017

EY announced its sponsorship of TechInnovate, an entrepreneurship development fellowship at NUI Galway. During the 10-month programme, teams of three entrepreneurs will identify real customer issues and develop innovative solutions to address these issues. As well as helping employees drive innovation and change inside established technology companies on the western seaboard, TechInnovate aims to produce more entrepreneurs who will enable innovations in local start-ups. The full-time stipend supported programme combines teams of high-calibre Fellows from either an engineering, business or design graduate background. Team members are chosen to contribute their skills, knowledge and expertise as part of a multidisciplinary Fellowship team. Dr John Breslin, Director of TechInnovate, and lecturer at NUI Galway, said: “TechInnovate’s entrepreneurship development process starts with a multidisciplinary team of professionals, the engineer, businessperson and designer, who select a market for their initial idea or innovation, and then identify customer needs through extensive market research. The value created for the customer is defined, along with customer acquisition strategies and product/company economics. This is followed by a plan for product design, development and scaling. Our Fellows will be able to apply the skills they learn over and over again.” Commenting on the sponsorship, Paraic Waters, Tax Director, EY Galway, said: “EY is delighted to sponsor TechInnovate. Having established our Galway office in June 2016, we have seen the valuable work NUI Galway is doing to promote entrepreneurship up close. There are some incredibly exciting and successful entrepreneurs operating on the western seaboard. We are very proud to have two winners in the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2017 from Connaught with Galway’s Evelyn O’Toole, founder of CLS winning the industry category and Mayo’s Harry Hughes from Portwest winning the international category and the overall prize.” “We have seen a surge in the number of start-ups and large multinationals locating in Galway in recent years. With a strong network of third level institutions, relatively low costs and the quality of life on offer for employees, the West of Ireland is well positioned to take advantage of the opportunities to attract investment arising from events such as Brexit. Programmes like TechInnovate also help to foster a friendlier ecosystem for entrepreneurs”, Mr Waters added. As part of the sponsorship of TechInnovate and EY’s ongoing commitment to developing entrepreneurship, EY will deliver a number of knowledge-sharing workshops during the programme. This will include sessions on developing entrepreneurial expertise and crucial business skills from a number of EY experts. EY staff will also be trained in the TechInnovate process and bring the skills they learn back to the business to help drive innovation. Galway has long been recognised as a hub for business and innovation, with the county ranked as one of the top incubator locations for medical devices worldwide, and the home to some of the world’s leading ICT and Life Science companies. The talent developed in programmes like TechInnovate will add to this. TechInnovate is a joint initiative from the College of Engineering and Informatics and the College of Business, Public Policy and Law at NUI Galway. The programme is supported by EY, the Galway University Foundation, NUI Galway, and the Western Development Commission. -Ends-

Monday, 19 June 2017

NUI Galway Students ‘Coachbook’ online platform wins €10,000 prize Paddy MacDonagh and Chris Bogues, both final year Bachelor of Commerce students at NUI Galway, have won the overall Enterprise Ireland Student Entrepreneurs of the Year Award and have been named ‘College Entrepreneurs of the Year 2017’. The winning entrants beat off stiff competition with their project ‘Coachbook’, an online platform for riding coaches to train horse riders remotely through live video streaming. The project started in January 2017 as part of the Innovation Creativity and Enterprise module at NUI Galway (available to all final year students of Commerce, Business Information Systems, Information Technology and Engineering programmes) and has won multiple awards within the University throughout the semester. Dr Johanna Clancy, Innovation, Creativity and Enterprise module lecturer, at NUI Galway, said: “I am very proud of our team and this wonderful achievement. Paddy and Chris are excellent ambassadors for NUI Galway. This module receives great support locally, where mentors from Galway-based businesses, multinational corporations and start-ups, guide our students in developing and refining their business ideas. This collaboration is invaluable and we are extremely grateful for the impact it has on the 400 students who take this module.” Paddy MacDonagh has worked with Blackstone LaunchPad at NUI Galway since 2016. As a team, the Coachbook project utilised all the supports available through Blackstone LaunchPad to develop their business idea and take their project to market. Natalie Walsh from Blackstone LaunchPad at NUI Galway, said: “It has been amazing to work with such a passionate team on such a novel and fantastic idea, and to see the students develop and learn from both inside of the classroom and through our programme on campus. Initiatives such as the Innovation Creativity and Enterprise module and our experiential programme in Blackstone LaunchPad is something every student should experience. The skills learned stay with our students for life.” The Student Entrepreneur Awards are part of a major drive aimed at encouraging students to start their own business as a career option. The substantial prize fund includes €35,000 in cash prizes and €30,000 in consultancy fees which are available for winners to help them turn their idea into a commercial reality. In addition to the top prize, the winning team will also receive mentoring from Enterprise Ireland to develop the commercial viability of their overall concept. Brendan Flood, Head of Micro Enterprises and Small Business at Enterprise Ireland, said: “Now in its 36th year, the Student Entrepreneur Awards attracted submissions from over 560 third level students from colleges across Ireland. This competition gives students valuable hands-on experience in entrepreneurship and establishing a business. The calibre of applications clearly demonstrates that the entrepreneurial spirit is very much alive across Ireland’s universities and colleges. Congratulations to all involved.”  -Ends-

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