University College Dublin Partnering in Seven Research Projects to Receive Funding under the Third Round of the Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund

University College Dublin Partnering in Seven Research Projects to Receive Funding under the Third Round of the Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund

An Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar TD, the Minister for Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris TD and the Minister of State for Trade Promotion, Digital and Company Regulation Robert Troy TD today announced that 29 exciting new projects have succeeded in securing funding under the third round of the Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund.

University College Dublin (UCD) is a partner in 7 of the 29 funded projects which all together will share €95 million over the next 3 years. The UCD partner projects are receiving a total of €22.3 million over the 3-years.

Announcing the successful projects today, An Tánaiste Leo Varadkar TD said, “The pandemic and Brexit have combined to bring unprecedented economic challenges and volatility to our enterprise sector. But with every challenge comes new opportunities and the Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund is dedicated to entrepreneurs and researchers working on some really exciting ideas to develop solutions to the problems we face.”

He added, “The level of DTIF funding involved at €95 million demonstrates our commitment to continue to invest and rebuild a stronger, more resilient economy after the pandemic.”

Welcoming today’s announcement Professor Orla Feely, UCD Vice-President for Research, Innovation and Impact said, “UCD is a strong supporter of the DTIF initiative which drives collaboration between the higher education sector’s research base and enterprises to support the development and adoption of new technologies and applications to deliver impact nationally and internationally.”

She added, “I am delighted that UCD researchers are partnering in seven of the successful disruptive projects which will be funded under the third tranche of this highly competitive fund building on our success in the first two funding rounds. This strong involvement of UCD researchers reflects the strength and breadth of research and innovation activities taking place across our campus.”

The successfully funded projects involving UCD researchers are;

CAMEO, building on UCD’s growing space-related research and innovation activities through the UCD Centre for Space Research, is to receive €6.4 million over 3-years. The project aims to unlock the potential of Earth Observation (EO) data for non-specialist users by creating a new architecture with the aim of developing a sustainable internationally trading EO services sector in Ireland. The members of this project consortium, led by UCD, are; Professor Gregory O’Hare, UCD School of Computer Science; Vertice Integration Services Ltd T/A Vertice Cloud; BCC Risk Advisory Ltd T/A Edgescan; The Icon Group Ltd; Treemetrics Ltd; TechWorks Marine Ltd; EMC Information Systems International and Oracle Corporation Ltd.

Professor Gregory O’Hare said, “The CAMEO (Creating an Architecture for Manipulating Earth Observation data) project seeks to democratise access to, and effective usage of, an ever increasing corpus of Earth Observation data with the aim of developing a sustainable internationally trading Earth Observation services sector in Ireland.”

He added, “CAMEO will provide a new and easy to use means of accessing international EO/UAV/Land-based sensor data and mechanisms for combining this with national climate, agriculture, and marine databases to unlock real, tangible potential for Irish industry, the public sector, and researchers, and to establish Ireland as an international leader in the use of EO data for economic and societal benefit."

GUARD, which is to receive is to receive €5.1 million over 3-years, is using artificial intelligence to develop drones to detect drug smuggling. This project will establish Ireland as a world leader in autonomous drone and drone-AI technologies. The advanced drone capabilities developed will dramatically improve capability and reduce costs for interdicting drug smuggling. The members of this project consortium are; Professor Michael O’Neill, UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School; Tyndall National Institute (lead); University of Limerick; A-TechSYN Ltd; True Communication Technologies Ltd T/A VRAI and Ocean Print Ltd T/A WAZP.

iPATH-CAN, which is to receive €3 million over 3-years, is harnessing artificial intelligence to develop a tool to identify breast and prostate cancer patients with early-stage disease. The members of this project consortium are; Professor William Gallagher, UCD School of Biomolecular and Biomedical Science; Deciphex Ltd (lead) and Oncomark Ltd, a diagnostics company headquartered at NovaUCD.

Professor William Gallagher said, "This DTIF award builds on a substantial foundation of translational cancer research over many years in the breast and prostate cancer areas within UCD, led by Professor Bill Watson and our research group, along with more recent work in the area of machine learning by Dr Catherine Mooney and her team. The iPATH-CAN programme provides a unique opportunity to combine our strengths with those of two exciting companies in the molecular diagnostics and artificial intelligence arenas, namely Deciphex and OncoMark.”

He added, “The key focus of iPATH-CAN is to provide a new paradigm for management of early-stage breast and prostate cancer patients whereby we bring together key imaging, molecular and clinical data to make better and more accurate clinical decisions.”

SEMPRE, which is to receive €2.88 million over 3-years, is designing and building a prototype robotic drilling system and anchor template for the installation of micropiled anchor foundations; anchors will be load tested to prove suitability; for a wide range of applications including offshore wind. The members of this project constorium are; Associate Professor Vikram Pakrashi, UCD School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering; Mincon Group PLC (lead); Subsea Micropiles Ltd and University of Limerick.

CHANNEL, which is to receive €1.87 million over 3-years, is developing a software platform to predict human sensory quality attributes of food products for great taste, health benefits and minimal waste. The members of this project constorium are Dr Ricardo Simon Carbajo, UCD School of Computer Science and CeADAR; Dawn Farm Foods Ltd (lead) and Creme Software Ltd.

PERSONA, which is to receive €1.57 million over 3-years, is developing the first innovative plasma sampling device for inflammatory diseases. The members of this project constorium are; Professor Peter Doran, UCD School of Medicine; Atturos Ltd, (lead) a UCD spin-out company supported by NovaUCD; Agilent Technologies Ireland Ltd and Neoteryx Ltd.

E-Crop, which is to receive €1.5 million over 3-years, will develop innovative agri-technologies that provide farmers and agri-advisory industries with the tools needed to monitor and improve crop health. The members of this project constorium, led by UCD, are; Professor Fiona Doohan, UCD School of Biology and Environmental Science; e-Seed Crop Technology Solutions Ltd, a joint UCD-TCD spin-out company, SeqBiome Ltd; LAN CTR (Lárionad Acmhainní Nádúrtha CTR) and Origin Enterprises Public Ltd Company.

Professor Fiona Doohan said, “E-Crop will build new disruptive technologies to enhance the sustainability of agriculture. UCD will work with the SMEs, E-Seed, SeqBiome and LAN CTR, and Origin Enterprises to develop novel genomic and biological tools to monitor and improve farm soil health and enhance crop productivity under reduced chemical inputs.”  

Last month Professor Doohan received the 2021 NovaUCD Innovation Award in recognition of excellence in innovation and successes achieved in the commercialisation of UCD research over a number of years.

In addition to the seven projects above, Manna, the world’s first aviation-grade B2B drone delivery ‘as-a-service’ company headquartered at NovaUCD, is a consortium partner in the MI-DRONE project which is to receive which is to receive €2.88 million over 3-years. The project, led by Éire Composites Teoranta and with partner NUI Galway, will address consumer demand for fast, reliable, last-mile delivery using a drone. It will reduce delivery time to 3 mins and decrease emissions by 80%.

The funding announced today brings the total funding awarded under the three DTIF Calls to date to €235 million. The Fund, established under the National Development Plan in 2018, commits a total of €500 million of government funding, alongside enterprise co-funding of projects.

Minister Harris TD said, “The Irish research sector is key to our future economic prospects. Many top-performing indigenous companies have emerged as spin-outs from the research conducted in our universities and higher education institutes. Several recent spin-outs are partners in the consortia that are being awarded funding under the Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund today. This is in addition to the 37 HE-based partners in those projects. That is a fantastic outcome which reflects the strength of the Irish research sector.”

He added, "DTIF is an important tool for realising our ambitions as a global innovation leader and a location for research excellence. The level of investment being made today in cutting-edge technologies will create employment opportunities for our graduates and help to maintain Ireland as an attractive destination for top research talent.”

Minister Troy TD said, “The Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund is a vital tool for financing excellent disruptive and innovative projects and is exactly the kind of fund that Ireland needs right now as we navigate the new normal and embrace the opportunities and challenges that disruptive technologies bring to our workplaces and homes.”

“This funding will give the companies involved opportunities to grow their business, even when trading in increasingly competitive markets, through the development of innovative products and services that alter the way that the industry operates.”

Julie Sinnamon, CEO, Enterprise Ireland, who administer the Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund, said, “Irish entrepreneurs have yet again demonstrated their ingenuity, adaptability and resilience in the face of the challenges they face. The breadth and scale of the projects that have come through the rigorous DTIF evaluation process is a huge tribute to the quality of our innovative companies and the other partners involved.

“The quality of the partnerships involved, with SMEs, multinationals and research organisations combining to share experience, expertise and knowledge, also deserves acknowledgement. We are a small nation with limited resources and so we must continually demonstrate our flexibility and agility. These projects will enable the enterprises involved to be in strong position as the Irish and global economies rebound once the pandemic ends.”

All projects involve collaborations of between three and eight partners, including SMEs, multinational corporations and research organisations. SME participation is an integral part of the Fund, with 62 SMEs among the 111 organisations involved and 22 leading their project.

A total of 62 applications were received under this third call of the Fund. The eligible projects went through a rigorous and competitive evaluation process involving screening and interview by panels of international experts.

Further information on the 29 funded projects is available via:


22 April 2021

For further information contact Micéal Whelan, Communications and Media Relations Manager, NovaUCD, e:, t: + 353 1 716 3712.

Editors Notes

The Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund (DTIF) is a €500 million fund established under the National Development Plan (NDP) in 2018. The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment manages the DTIF with administrative support from Enterprise Ireland. The purpose of the Fund is to drive collaboration between Ireland’s world-class research base and industry as well as facilitating enterprises to compete directly for funding in support of the development and adoption of these technologies. The aim is to support investment in the development and deployment of disruptive technologies and applications on a commercial basis.

Call 3 Applications to DTIF were assessed by panels of international experts against four criteria – quality of the disruptive technology, excellence of overall approach, economic impact & sustainability and strength of the collaboration.