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UCD to Partner in 5 Research Projects to Receive Funding under the Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund

Monday, 17 December, 2018 


UCD is a partner in 5 of the 27 innovative research projects which will receive funding under the first tranche of the Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund. The announcement made by An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar TD and Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys TD involves a total funding of over €75 million over the next 3-years with the 5 UCD related projects receiving a total of €18.7 million.

Members of the UCD, RCSI, IBM and Deciphex consortium, which is focused on colorectal cancer diagnosis and treatment, with An Taoiseach, Professor Orla Feely and Government Ministers.

Over 300 applications were made under this first funding round and the successful projects have made it through a highly competitive process involving screening by a panel of international experts.

The successful projects involving UCD 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 €8.4 million over 3-years are; UCD, Professor Wenxin Wang, UCD 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 €5.7 million over 3-years are; UCD, 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 €2.2 million over 3-years are; UCD, Professor Tahar Kechadi and Dr Brian MacNamee, UCD 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 €1.4 million over 3-years are; UCD, Professor David MacHugh, UCD School of Agriculture and Food Science and IdentiGEN.

A project focused on blockchain technology which aims to implement a production blockchain to transform the technology product supply chain. The members of this project consortium, which is to receive €1.0 million over 3-years are; UCD, Dr Oisin Boydell, UCD School of Computer Science and CeADAR, with  Exertis Supply Chain Services and Sonalake.

An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar TD said, "The creation of this fund is particularly timely when we consider the vast and rapid technological advancements that are taking place. 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. 

"We are currently developing a new Plan, the Future Jobs Initiative, to meet these challenges and ensure we assist industry to create and sustain good jobs for our people in light of future challenges and opportunities. The Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund is central to the Future Jobs Programme. It's our way of stimulating private investment in new technologies and ways of doing business, and building stronger links between higher education, multinationals and Irish SMEs."

Professor Orla Feely, UCD Vice-President for Research, Innovation and Impact said, "I am delighted that UCD is partnering in 5 of the disruptive research and innovation projects announced by An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar TD and Minister Heather Humphreys TD under the first tranche of the highly competitive Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund. The 5 projects which UCD is leading or partnering will receive combined funding of €18.7 million over the next 3 years."

"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 blockchain technology."

The 27 funded projects include collaborations between start-ups, SMEs, multinationals and academic institutions. Over the next ten years some €500 million will be allocated through the Fund, which was announced as part of Project Ireland 2040.

The Fund is a key part of the Government's 'Future Jobs' initiative, a new whole-of Government plan to secure Ireland's economic success, starting in 2019. It is one of the first funds of its type in the world and is aimed at tackling national and global challenges to secure the jobs of the future.

Minister Heather Humphreys TD said,"This Fund is about ensuring that Ireland can stay ahead of the game to secure the jobs of the future. Disruptive technologies will significantly change the way that we work and live and we need to embrace the changes coming our way."

"A recent OECD study estimated that the average Irish worker faced a 46 per cent probability of being automated by the 2030s so we cannot afford to stand still. We are lucky in this country to have amazing companies that are doing amazing things in technology, both indigenous and multinational. We also have world-class researchers so there is a lot we can achieve by working together. These 27 projects have devised groundbreaking solutions that will help us to future-proof our economy."

Julie Sinnamon, CEO, Enterprise Ireland, said, "We see every day, through our market offices, how innovation is the key differentiator for Irish companies in competing and winning in global markets. The DTIF provides unique supports to ambitious SME's and researchers to help them collaborate on the development of innovative technologies that have the potential to transform how markets and businesses work. The 27 proposals approved under this first call have the potential to be game-changers in their sectors, and to dominate in niche sectors globally. We look forward to continuing to work with these teams, to help them achieve their full global ambition."



Further information on the 27 funded projects available via https://dbei.gov.ie/en/What-We-Do/Innovation-Research-Development/Disruptive-Technologies-Innovation-Fund/DTIF-Awards-Under-First-Call-2018.html

Details of the Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund are available at: dbei.gov.ie/DTIF