State bets €18.7m on five 'disruptive tech' projects at UCD

Posted 17 December, 2018

Five projects at University College Dublin focusing on 'disruptive' technologies have been granted nearly €19 million in State funding.

One in three jobs in Ireland are at risk of disruption from digital technologies, according to the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs – a group that advises the Government on current and future skills needs in the economy.

To help future-proof against job losses, the Government has created the Disruptive Technology Innovation Fund (DTIF).

UCD is a partner in five of 27 new research projects receiving €75 million in funding under this ‘Future Jobs’ initiative.

The successful projects involving the University are:

  • A project focused on the development of a disruptive gene therapy platform to replace viruses in the treatment of genetic conditions, such as Epidermolysis Bullosa, or EB, using a new polymer-based delivery platform. 

The members of this project consortium, which is to receive €8.4m are: Professor Wenxin WangUCD School of Medicine and Charles Institute of Dermatology; with Amryt Pharma, Curran Scientific Ltd and DEBRA Ireland.

  • A project focused on colorectal cancer diagnosis and treatment which aims to transform the diagnosis and surgical treatment of gastro-intestinal diseases, specifically cancer, by allowing decision-support information to be available when needed for faster and more accurate interventions for patients. 

The members of this project consortium, which is to receive €5.7m are: Professor Ronan Cahill, UCD School of Medicine, with RCSI, IBM Research and Deciphex.

  • A project focused on medical imaging which aims to build a platform offering enabling technologies which can host, manage, process and analyse image and text data and brings together the entire ecosystem of actors in the medical imaging domain.

The members of this project consortium, which is to receive €2.2m are: Professor Tahar Kechadi and Dr Brian Mac NameeUCD School of Computer Science, and Professor Jonathan Dodd, UCD School of Medicine, with IBM Ireland, Nova Leah, DKIT and Davra Networks Ltd.

  • A project focused on food labelling which will use massively multiplexed next generation sequencing to provide a crypto-anchor for food authentication and as a substitute for costly, error prone labelling and certification systems.

The members of this project consortium, which is to receive €1.4m are: Professor David MacHughUCD School of Agriculture and Food Science and IdentiGEN.

  • A project focused on block chain technology, which aims to implement a production block chain to transform the technology product supply chain.

The members of this project consortium, which is to receive €1m are: Dr Oisin Boydell, UCD School of Computer Science and CeADAR, with Exertis Supply Chain Services and Sonalake.

Over 300 applications were made under this first funding round, and revealing the 27 projects selected Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said Ireland must adapt to a future of greater digitalisation and automation.

“Today everything is faster, more efficient, and more easily accessible. We must adapt to a future of greater digitalisation and automation. 

“Today’s school children will be employed in jobs and industries that don’t exist yet. Technology will eliminate or transform existing occupations.”

Professor Orla Feely, UCD Vice-President for Research, Innovation and Impact said: “We now look forward to working together with partner institutions and partners from the industry, SME and charity sectors to transform and deliver sustained impact in areas of colorectal cancer care; gene therapy; medical imaging; food labelling and block chain technology.”

The 27 funded projects selected for funding were announced by Taoiseach Varadkar and Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys this month.

Over the next ten years some €500 million will be allocated through the DTIF to similar partnerships.

By: David Kearns, Digital Journalist / Media Officer, UCD University Relations