Fossil fuels are a depleting resource and their use has harmful environmental impacts. We have come to depend on the products that come from fossil fuels - energy, dyes, glues and plastics to name but a few. But how can we reduce our dependence on environmen- tally harmful fossil fuels, while still enjoying the benefits of the products they give us at an affordable price? Professor Kevin O'Connor and his team believe the answer lies in the development of a vibrant bioeconomy.
Professor O'Connor's expertise, research and vision have positioned UCD and Ireland as a European leader in bioeconomy research. Developing from an innovation partnership with Glanbia in 2014 and his work as part of a taskforce to look at the repurposing of the former Lisheen mine site in Tipperary, Kevin helped to create the Lisheen Bioeconomy Campus which has the potential to create over 1,800 jobs and return €75M to the local area. At the centre of the new bieconomy hub at Lisheen is the €22M Horizon 2020 AgriChemWhey project led by Glanbia Ireland with UCD as a partner.
This dramatic turnaround in the fortunes of Lisheen and the communities in North Tipperary can be linked to the actions of Professor Kevin O'Connor, whose belief in the potential of a vibrant Irish bioeconomy, influenced politicians and Government agencies in Ireland and the European Union to invest in the vision of Lisheen. The remarkable growth of the Lisheen campus and the recognised potential of Ireland's bioeconomy are testament to Kevin's energy, leadership and passion – and this is only the start.