Minister O’Donovan announces investment to improve micronutrient delivery


Minister for Further and Higher Education, Innovation and Science, Patrick O’Donovan TD, has announced a Science Foundation Ireland Strategic Partnership Award of €1.4 million to researchers at University College Dublin.

The award will, over four years, fund a project titled ‘Bio-inspired particle architecture delivery technologies (Bio-PADT)’, led by Conway Fellows, Prof. Kenneth Dawson, Prof. Yan Yan, Prof. Grace Mulcahy and Prof. David Brayden. Bio-PADT is a partnership between University College Dublin and Marigot Ltd., spearheading the development of reliable platforms for micronutrient delivery.

group of people smiling

Project co-leads and Conway Fellows, Prof. Grace Mulcahy, Prof. Kenneth Dawson, Prof. Yan Yan and Prof. David Brayden pictured with Dr Aisling McEvoy, Director of Enterprise Partnerships at SFI (second left) and Shane O’Connell, Head of Innovation, Marigot Ltd (middle)

Announcing the funding, Minister O’Donovan said: “I am delighted to announce this funding to the Bio-PADT research project – an excellent example of collaborative research bridging industry and academia. The Government is committed to supporting cutting-edge research that will bring both societal and economic benefits, and I am excited to see the potential of the Bio-PADT programme to transform the bionanoscience industry.”

Micronutrient deficiency is known to have profound impacts on human and animal health. Bio-PADT will explore opportunities to produce more effective and inexpensive food supplements, through sustainably harvested and naturally derived materials, such as seaweed-based particulate materials. 

Dr Siobhán Roche, Director, Science for the Economy at Science Foundation Ireland, said: “The project highlights the impact of the Strategic Partnership Programme, which aims to build partnerships across academia and industry to address key societal challenges and enhance the competitiveness of our economy. The Bio-PADT programme will expand knowledge within bionanoscience which will lay the groundwork for advancements in micronutrient delivery. I congratulate those leading the project and thank the partners for providing support.”

Professor Kenneth Dawson and Professor Yan Yan have built a strong, collaborative relationship with Marigot Ltd., a company pioneering in harvesting and production of seaweed minerals for nutritional value. The programme seeks to develop an understanding of marine-derived raw materials, including the company’s product Aquamin, a multi-mineral complex derived from Lithothamnion seaweed species, and the contributions to the observed health and nutritional benefits. Through this project, researchers will gain a better understanding of the mechanisms in how complex particle materials function.

Professor Kenneth Dawson, Director of UCD's Centre for Bionano Interactions (CBNI) and project co-lead, commented: “This partnership between UCD and Marigot Ltd. aims to understand the mechanisms via which naturally occurring substances in the diet aid micronutrient delivery, and to use that knowledge to develop novel ‘naturally inspired’ health-products.”

Michael Ryan, Managing Director, Marigot Ltd, stated: “Marigot Ltd’s core business involves the identification and development of naturally derived ingredients for the enhancement of human, animal and plant health. During the last 26 years, Marigot Ltd has operated with a unique appreciation for the value of scientific research to generate further understanding of its raw materials and their application. This scientific approach has allowed the company to create and develop the market for its unique marine multi mineral complex derived from Lithothamnion sp., with applications in both the animal health (Acid Buf) and human food and nutrition (Aquamin) sectors. The Bio-PADT project is a further demonstration of Marigot’s commitment to scientific excellence by facilitating collaboration with Prof Dawson's team of leading scientists at UCD, with support from the industry focused SFI Strategic Partnership programme. Marigot is excited by what the Bio-PADT project can deliver for nutrient delivery and particle interaction with biological barriers and the immune system. We envisage new discoveries which can be groundbreaking for treating micro-nutrient deficiencies and modulating inflammatory processes in human and animal applications.”

UCD Vice President for Research, Innovation and Impact, Professor Kate Robson Brown said, “This partnership combines UCD's advanced research strengths and strong links with industry to further our understanding of how Marine-derived raw materials can contribute to health and nutrition. The SFI Strategic Partnership Programme is pivotal in supporting research initiatives of scale with strong potential for delivering economic and societal impact, we are delighted to strengthen our relationship with Marigot Ltd under the programme and look forward to seeing the outcomes of this collaborative project.”