Minister Harris Announces Two Enterprise Partnership Scheme Awards for TU Dublin

17 Aug, 2020

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris TD, has today, 17 August, announced an investment of €4.3 million in 50 enterprise-focused research awards under the Irish Research Council’s Enterprise Partnership Scheme.

The awards will cover a broad range of topics including the areas of health, food production, law, agriculture and heritage. Two PhD students at TU Dublin, Beatriz Pinheiro Lopes and Rushiil Ravichandran have received grants to work with enterprise on projects in health and food production. 

Announcing today’s investment, Minister Harris said: “I am delighted to announce funding for 50 research and innovation projects as part of the 2020 Irish Research Council Enterprise Partnership Scheme. This scheme provides a valuable opportunity for enterprise and employers to access research talent and expertise within Ireland’s higher education system.

“The research will cover a broad range of areas, including sexual violence, the delivery of healthcare, how we produce better dairy products, the impact of jellyfish blooms on salmon aquaculture in Ireland, and how we improve bone health in jockeys.

“We must continue to promote Irish research and offer our researchers every opportunity and every support. We must continue to support this type of engagement to attract foreign direct investment into our knowledge economy, to assist indigenous SMEs and NGOs to innovate.”

Recipient of the Enterprise Partnership Scheme Postgraduate Award and PhD student at TU Dublin, Rushiil Ravichandran, says a significant challenge of the 21st century is antibiotic resistance and outbreaks caused by the transmission of disease from animals to humans have increased. "To prevent bacterial infections in our food chains and day to day lives, we need a natural alternative to antibiotics and Ovotransferrins, a protein found in egg whites show great potential in maintaining optimal health and preventing bacterial infections."

Continuing Mr Ravichandran said, "Our project, IIFAR, will generate a 3D map that will reveal how these egg proteins taken from different avian species can produce antimicrobial effects against pathogens and help boost immunity." 

PhD candidate at TU Dublin, Beatriz Pinheiro Lopes, who has also received an EPS Award, says Cancer is the second leading cause of death globally, causing nearly 10 million deaths in 2018. “Removing a tumour is not always possible; chemotherapy can be ineffective for various reasons, including drug resistance or inefficient exposure, and other cancer drugs can cause severe side effects affecting the quality of patient's life.”

Continuing Ms Pinheiro Lopes, says, ‘Plasma – is already in use in cancer therapy for the surgical removal of tumours and this project funded by the Irish Research Council’s EPS Award will look to develop an effective drug delivery method that will target tumours using cold plasma deposition."

Award

Awardee

University

Enterprise Partner

Discipline

Project Title

EPS Postgraduate Award

Beatriz Pinheiro Lopes

TU Dublin

TheraDep ltd

Cell Biology

Cold plasma deposition as a novel technology for targeted cancer drug delivery

EPS Postgraduate Award

Rushiil Ravichandran

TU Dublin

EPS Egg powder specialists S.p.A.

Environmental Biotechnology

Innate Immune Factors as Antibiotic Replacements (IIFAR):  Generation of a 3D immune factor--pathogen-activity map to elucidate evolutionary host-pathogen adaptations in the ovotransferrin protein family

The Director of the Irish Research Council, Peter Brown, added: “The Council has a long history of supporting early career researchers across all disciplines, and the Enterprise Partnership Scheme is a keystone of this ongoing mission. By bridging research, industry and enterprise, this programme gives participating scholars and fellows a dynamic research opportunity, allowing them to gain experience of working on a project with enterprise impact and innovation potential, and providing insight into career paths beyond academia. The Council wishes the new awardees and their partners every success with their projects.”

The Enterprise Partnership Scheme has been operating for 15 years in the Irish research and innovation landscape and connects enterprise, early career researchers and higher education institutions. As a unique tripartite research collaboration, it provides key benefits for all parties. Industry and employers – including social innovation organisations – are supported to enhance their research and innovation capacity on a low-risk basis, and companies gain access to a pipeline of research talent for their future development needs. For postgraduate and postdoctoral participants, the scheme builds links between researchers and the broader economy and society, which is key to driving future innovation.  Finally, as the scheme has shown, Enterprise Partnership Scheme awards promote long-term collaborations and engagement between higher education institutions and industry/employers.

A long-standing partner in the scheme is Analog Devices, which this year is supporting three researchers: University of Limerick-based awardee Aoife Whiston, Brian Shortall from Trinity College Dublin and Mohamed Shehata from University College Dublin. Shane Geary, Vice President Internal operations and technology and General Manager Ireland site, Analog Devices, praised the EPS programme, stating, “Analog Devices is delighted to partner with the Irish Research Council again on the 2020 Enterprise Partnership Scheme. We have been involved in the programme for many years, with great success, and are looking forward to working with this year’s awardees. This programme enables us to collaborate with excellent researchers and integrate their expertise into our processes and innovations. We also aim to provide the researchers with the opportunity to gain first-hand experience of working in industry, promoting it as a high potential career path.”

Some of the other projects supported under this year’s scheme are highlighted below:

  • Hannah Brownlow, based at University College Cork, will undertake research with salmon producer MOWI Ireland on the impact of jellyfish blooms on salmon aquaculture in Ireland.
  • Shubham Jain, based at Athlone Institute of Technology, will partner with Ericsson to work on Automated Data Analysis and Parsing (ADAP).
  • Arthur Dunne, based at Waterford Institute of Technology, will undertake research in collaboration with the charity organisation Irish Injured Jockeys, developing and implementing strategies to promote bone health in jockeys.
  • Nora Moroney, based at Trinity College Dublin, will commence research in collaboration with Marsh's Library on the book collection of Benjamin Iveagh.