SFI Future Innovator Prize: UCD Teams Shortlisted for €4 million Funding Challenge
- Competitions focus on sustainable solutions in the area of food waste and plastics
Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris, TD, has today announced the 15 teams which have been shortlisted as part of the SFI Future Innovator Prize.
University College Dublin (UCD) researchers are leading two of the teams and are members of three of the other shortlisted teams.
The two challenge-based prize programmes, with a prize fund of €2 million each, as part of the SFI Future Innovator Prize, are calling on the research teams to develop innovative solutions to food waste and plastics.
A total of ten teams have been shortlisted under the SFI Plastics Challenge and five teams have been shortlisted under the SFI Food Challenge. At the end of the 12-month programme two overall winners will be announced.
Minister Simon Harris TD said, “I am delighted to announce the fifteen teams who will go on to compete as part of the SFI Future Innovator Prize. The SFI Future Innovator Prize is a challenge-based prize funding programme that seeks to support Ireland’s best and brightest, to develop novel, potentially disruptive, technologies to address significant societal challenges. On this occasion, it is about tackling food and plastic waste. I am really excited to see the outcome of their work and the response to these key national challenges.”
The SFI Plastics Challenge will support the development of innovative STEM-led solutions that will enable the sustainable use of plastics in a circular economy, restore and preserve our oceans’ health, and maximise how we use the earth's finite resources.
UCD researchers are leading two (Eco-labs and Plastic Radiers) of the ten shortlisted teams for this challenge.
Eco-labs is focused on the challenge of making sustainable lab consumables. The members of the team are; Dr Nan Zhang, UCD School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, Professor Wenxin Wang, UCD School of Medicine and Professor Michael Gilchrist, UCD School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering and MiNAN Technologies. MiNaN Technologies is a UCD spin-out company supported through NovaUCD.
Eco-labs is aligned with UN SDG GOAL 12: Responsible Consumption and Production.
Plastic Raiders is focusing on the challenge of Removing polluting plastics from the coastal marine environment. The member members are, Associate Professor Francesco Pilla, UCD School of Architecture, Planning and Environmental Policy, Associate Professor Jennifer Symonds, UCD School of Education and Tim Ferguson, Irish Surfing Association.
Associate Professor Francesco Pilla, UCD School of Architecture, Planning and Environmental Policy said, "Our approach to tackle plastic pollution in the sea has the citizens at the core. We are developing cutting edge AI algorithms for satellite imagery, a nationwide citizen science framework and innovative education tools to enable citizens to act on plastic pollution.”
“The focus at the core of our approach is not only on removing plastics from the sea, but also on educating citizens about more sustainable behaviours to achieve a long-term impact on plastic pollution.”
Plastic Raiders is aligned with UN SDG GOAL 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities.
The SFI Food Challenge will support the development of sustainable solutions to reduce food loss and waste across the full breadth of the food supply chain. UCD researchers are members of three (Bluestreambio, Eye-Q and WAVA) of the five teams shortlisted for this challenge.
Bluestreambio is focusing on the challenge of addressing waste in the fishing industry – alternative uses of fish blood. The team members are, Dr Graham O'Neill, TU Dublin, Professor Paula Bourke, UCD School of Biosystems and Food Engineering and Nadine Bonner, Irish Fish Canners.
Bluestreambio is aligned with UN SDG GOAL 12: Responsible Consumption and Production.
Eye-Q focusing on the challenge of reducing premature spoilage of fruit and vegetables in global supply chains. The team members are Dr Ultan McCarthy, Waterford Institute of Technology, Dr Anastasia Ktenioudaki, UCD School of Biosystems and Food Engineering and Jean-Pierre Emond, The Illuminate Group LLC.
Eye-Q is aligned with UN SDG GOAL 2: Zero Hunger and UN SDG GOAL 12: Responsible Consumption and Production.
WAVA is focusing on the challenge of valorising food waste into value added commodities. The team members are, Dr Sushanta Kumar Saha, Limerick Institute of Technology, Dr Ajay Menon, UCD School of Agriculture and Food Science and Adam Lord, Food Surplus Management Ltd.
WAVA is aligned with UN SDG GOAL 12: Responsible Consumption and Production.
Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General, SFI and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland, said, “I would like to congratulate the fifteen teams who have been shortlisted as part of the SFI Future Innovator Prize competition. We have seen a fantastic calibre of innovative thinking and truly novel approaches as part of the submissions, and I look forward to seeing the different solutions that develop in the areas of food waste and enabling the sustainable use of plastics, as the competition continues. I would like to commend each team on their hard work and dedication, and to wish them every success in the rest of the competition.”
The SFI Future Innovator Prize, funded by the Department of Further and Higher Education, Innovation and Science through Science Foundation Ireland, is part of an overall government plan to cultivate challenge-based funding in Ireland.
Further information on all 15 shortlisted teams available via: https://www.sfi.ie/research-news/news/challenge-food-plastics/
15 February 2021
For further information contact Micéal Whelan, Communications and Media Relations Manager, NovaUCD, UCD Research and Innovation, t: + 353 1 716 3712 or e: email@example.com.
The SFI Future Innovator Prize is a challenge-based prize funding programme that seeks to support Ireland’s best and brightest unconventional thinkers and innovators to develop novel, potentially disruptive, technologies to address significant societal challenges. The overarching ambition of the SFI Future Innovator Prize is to enable the development of disruptive STEM-based solutions to key national challenges. https://www.sfi.ie/challenges/