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Network launched to assist Irish & Welsh life science businesses

Posted on: 24 May 2017

Network launched to assist Irish & Welsh life science businesses

  • €12 million network includes 6 universities and global healthcare leaders Unilever and GE Healthcare
  • Network aims to assist 240 SMEs in Ireland and Wales

CALIN (www.calin.wales) a new €12 million life science network to assist Irish and Welsh businesses to innovate, was announced today by Paschal Donohoe TD, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform and Welsh Finance Secretary Mark Drakeford.

CALIN (Celtic Advanced Life Science Innovation Network) a collaborative programme led by Swansea University’s Medical School is funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Ireland Wales Cooperation programme.

CALIN aims to engage and assist over 240 Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) throughout Ireland and Wales by offering open access to a unique strategic international partnership involving 6 world leading higher educational institutions and global healthcare leaders Unilever and GE Healthcare.

The 6 higher educational institutions are; University College Dublin, National University of Ireland Galway (NUI Galway), Tyndall National Institute, University College Cork in Ireland and Bangor University, Cardiff University and Swansea University in Wales.

Through CALIN Welsh and Irish businesses will have access to a powerful knowledge base and technological infrastructure enabling accelerated innovation and access to a network of key stakeholders including those involved in supply chains, route-to-market and end-user healthcare providers.

CALIN’s aim is to drive smart sustainable growth in advanced life sciences in both Ireland and Wales, by undertaking a large number of collaborative R&D projects, and through these generating new jobs and attracting investors into the cross-border regions.

The Welsh Government’s Finance Secretary Mark Drakeford said, “Life science is a key sector in Wales and Ireland and this funding will support research and development, which is vital to the creation of new products, technology and jobs.

“It is excellent news for more than 240 small and medium-sized businesses and I’m delighted that expertise in the participating universities will be shared and used across both our countries.”

Paschal Donohoe TD, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform said, “The Ireland-Wales programme shows how EU funding can contribute to successful cross-border cooperation – in this case across our maritime border with the UK. The CALIN project is an excellent example of how it supports research and development in universities for the benefit of enterprises of all sizes, leading to new jobs and further investment in new technologies.

“This announcement shows funding under the Ireland-Wales programme is going ahead and that programme beneficiaries can plan for the future with confidence. The Irish Government strongly supports the programme and is committed to its successful implementation.”

All R&D activities will include a collaborative partnership between an SME and both an Irish and a Welsh university over a 1-3 year period depending on the nature of the development programme.

The network will offer R&D, technological development and innovation support to SMEs, which will drive the international competitiveness of both regions.  Together the internationally recognised centres of excellence will foster long-term cross-border research and industrial partnerships, building a platform of excellence for wider interactions in Europe and beyond.

Professor Ken Dawson, Director, Centre for BioNano Interactions, UCD School of Chemistry, and Irish CALIN co-ordinator said, “This programme will allow University College Dublin to use our scientific knowledge and expertise in a practical way to support SMEs. This includes supporting new life science start-ups, many of whom currently experience the ‘valley of death’, as they try to progress from proof-of-concept to market. This funding will play a part in strengthening indigenous Irish and Welsh SMEs and their capacity to produce advanced products, with strong market potential, and increase the number of high-quality jobs."

Dr Paul Galvin, Head of ICT for Health Programmes at Tyndall National Institute said, "Collaboration is vital to innovation, and particularly in the life sciences sector. CALIN brings together the best of academic and industry co-operation accelerating innovative developments at the convergence of ICT and life sciences.  At Tyndall, we embrace opportunities to work with the most innovative life-science entrepreneurs and we are committed to driving progress and optimising the opportunity presented by this multi-million euro collaborative network."

Professor Frank Barry, Scientific Director, Regenerative Medicine Institute, who leads the CALIN project at NUI Galway said, “This is a very exciting and unique opportunity for us to collaborate with SMEs in the biotech sector to help them expand their R&D effort and develop new technologies and products.” 

Professor Shareen Doak, Swansea University and CALIN Director said, “This initiative will strengthen our combined research base and create strong commercial foundations for life sciences both regionally and globally.  A key focus will be to support partnerships that will last beyond the term of the programme and create a legacy for the future wealth generation of network-linked SMEs.”

Dr Stephen Barnwell, European Open Innovation Manager, Unilever, said, “CALIN will provide a unique opportunity for businesses to work with institutes across both Ireland and Wales. This pool of world-class expertise will promote exciting business opportunities by enabling engagement with a broad knowledge network offering combined research and innovation expertise. This is an exciting initiative, promising great benefits to the health and life science commercial sectors of both countries.”
 

Irish launch
The Irish launch event at Tyndall National Institute gave small and medium enterprises (SMEs) a chance to find out more about what CALIN can offer, and to present their technology challenges and give their view of the CALIN project.  Businesses were also able to engage directly with CALIN with one-to-one project development meetings to explore collaborations.

Dr Paul Galvin, Head of ICT for Health at Tyndall National Institute and member of the CALIN board, said:

“It was clearly evident from the many company presentations during the two days, that CALIN will provide a unique opportunity to leverage synergies, and support new value chains across both regions. We in Tyndall are delighted to be part of this project, and look forward to working with the academic and industry partners in Ireland and Wales.”

Taking part in the CALIN event at Tyndall was Jellagen, a Pembrokeshire-based SME which produces collagen products sourced from jellyfish.  Jellagen are currently working on a collaborative project with Swansea University’s Centre for Nanohealth and NUI Galway.

Andrew Mearns Spragg, Chief Executive Officer of Jellagen, said:

“The CALIN event provided a fantastic platform to network with a range of academic and industrial colleagues. Jellagen is excited to be part of the CALIN project and we look forward to working with our partners to develop robust research into products with real commercial potential”

As well as talks from the SMEs, keynote presentations on the CALIN project were delivered by Eoin O’Driscoll, Chairman and Acting CEO of Tyndall; CALIN co-ordinator, Professor Shareen Doak of Swansea University; and Dr Ciarán Duffy of Enterprise Ireland.

Dr Ciarán Duffy underlined the importance of CALIN’s role:

“We have got to increase the value of what we bring to the market and CALIN provides an opportunity for small companies to become more competitive in a global market.”
 

About CALIN
CALIN’s €12 million funding comprises €9 million from the European Regional Development Fund through the Ireland Wales Cooperation programme with the remainder from match funding. The Ireland Wales 2014-2020 European Territorial Co-operation (ETC) programme is a maritime programme connecting organisations, businesses and communities on the West coast of Wales with the South-East coast of Ireland. The Ireland Wales programme focuses on seeking solutions to shared challenges on both sides of the Irish Sea, to improve the economic and sustainable development priorities of Wales and Ireland. www.irelandwales.eu

Established in 1854, University College Dublin is Ireland’s largest university with over 30,000 students from some 120 countries worldwide. Founded on the educational principles of its first Rector, John Henry Newman, the university seeks to contribute to the economy and society through the excellence and impact of its research, innovation and scholarship, the quality of its graduates and through its engagement nationally and internationally. www.ucd.ie

Tyndall National Institute is a European leading research centre in integrated ICT (Information and Communications Technology) hardware and systems. Specialising in both electronics and photonics – materials, devices, circuits and systems – Tyndall works with industry and academia to transform research into products in its core market areas of electronics, communications, energy, health, agri-food & the environment. With a network of over 200 industry partners and customers worldwide, we are focused on delivering real impact from our excellent research.

Tyndall at University College Cork, Ireland, employs over 460 researchers, engineers and support staff, with a full-time graduate cohort of 125 students. The institute generates over 230 peer-reviewed publications each year. We are experts at designing, miniaturising and prototyping products that are driving connectivity in the application of the industrial internet. Tyndall is the lead institution for the Science Foundation Ireland funded Irish Photonics Integration Centre (IPIC). www.tyndall.ie

Based at NUI Galway, the Regenerative Medicine Institute (REMEDI) is a world-class biomedical research centre focusing on gene therapy and stem cell research.  REMEDI’s translational research programme has a mission to conduct basic research in fundamental stem cell biology and to translate and commercialise research outputs by developing regenerative medicine therapies for diseases such as; cardiovascular disease, diabetes mellitus and osteoarthritis. REMEDI is home to the Centre for Cell Manufacturing, the first and only approved facility on the Island of Ireland. www.remedi.ie

NUI Galway’s teaching and research is recognised through its consistent rise in international rankings. The University is placed in the Top 250 of both the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings 2016/2017 and the QS World University Rankings 2016/17. www.nuigalway.ie

Tyndall National Institute is a European leading research centre in integrated ICT (Information and Communications Technology) hardware and systems. Specialising in both electronics and photonics – materials, devices, circuits and systems – Tyndall works with industry and academia to transform research into products in its core market areas of electronics, communications, energy, health, agri-food & the environment. With a network of over 200 industry partners and customers worldwide, we are focused on delivering real impact from our excellent research.

Tyndall at University College Cork, Ireland, employs over 460 researchers, engineers and support staff, with a full-time graduate cohort of 125 students. The institute generates over 230 peer-reviewed publications each year. We are experts at designing, miniaturising and prototyping products that are driving connectivity in the application of the industrial internet. Tyndall is the lead institution for the Science Foundation Ireland funded Irish Photonics Integration Centre (IPIC). www.tyndall.ie

Swansea University Medical School, established in 2004, is an internationally-recognised centre of excellence in medical research, education and innovation. The Medical School has three main activities: learning and teaching, research, and business and innovation. www.swansea.ac.uk/medicine/

Bangor University has a long record of academic excellence and a reputation for excellent teaching and student care. The University is 4th in Britain according to the WhatUni Student Choice Awards (April 2016) and is among the top 15 in the UK (of the UK’s best non-specialist universities, the traditional institutions who offer a broad range of subjects) in the annual National Student Survey (2016). The University is 4th in the UK for the academic support given to students; and placed in the top 20 for both teaching and assessment and feedback. The University is among the top 3% of universities in the world (Sunday Times University Guide). www.bangor.ac.uk

Cardiff University is recognised in independent government assessments as one of Britain’s leading teaching and research universities and is a member of the Russell Group of the UK’s most research intensive universities. The 2014 Research Excellence Framework ranked the University 5th in the UK for research excellence. Among its academic staff are two Nobel Laureates, including the winner of the 2007 Nobel Prize for Medicine, University Chancellor Professor Sir Martin Evans.  Founded by Royal Charter in 1883, today the University combines impressive modern facilities and a dynamic approach to teaching and research. www.cardiff.ac.uk