Science Foundation Ireland and Pfizer announce exciting new R&D programme for Ireland

Action Plan for Jobs, Funding, Innovation, Jobs, Research, Research and Innovation

13th April 2016

Funding awarded to researchers in Ireland to find potential new therapies for patients of unmet needs

Science Foundation Ireland and Pfizer today announced the recipients of the 2016 SFI-Pfizer Biotherapeutics Innovation Award programme. The collaboration between Science Foundation Ireland and Pfizer provides qualified academic researchers with an opportunity to deliver important potential discoveries in the areas of immunology, oncology, cardiovascular and rare diseases.

Supported by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, the SFI-Pfizer Biotherapeutics Innovation Award programme has awarded funding to researchers from across three academic institutions in Ireland including the Royal College Surgeons (RCSI), University College Cork (UCC) and University College Dublin (UCD).

In addition to the funding, academic researchers will have the unique opportunity to work with the Pfizer Global Biotherapeutics Technology (GBT) group, at Grangecastle in Dublin, as well as Pfizer’s R&D innovation engine, the Centers for Therapeutic Innovation. The teams’ research will focus on the application of cutting edge technologies for next generation protein therapies.

Speaking at the announcement, Mr Damien English, TD, Minister for Research, Skills and Innovation, said: “The collaboration between Science Foundation Ireland and Pfizer is an excellent example of how government, industry and academia can work together and share knowledge that could lead to the development of new medical breakthroughs not only for Irish patients but for patients worldwide. The Government continues to encourage and welcome programmes that offer opportunities in research and development in Ireland. Innovative partnerships and meaningful collaboration between industry and academia like this also help to build Ireland’s reputation internationally as a location for excellent scientific research.”

Commenting at the announcement, Prof Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland said, “We are delighted to continue this successful partnership with Pfizer to support innovative research and development that could help deliver significant advances in critical areas of medical need. The success of the award programme is a reflection of the quality and relevance of academic scientific research in Ireland – excellence and impact.”

Commenting on the announcement, Dr. Paul Duffy, Vice President, Biopharmaceutical Operations and External Supply, Pfizer said, “Pfizer are delighted with the continued collaboration with Science Foundation Ireland. As an organisation we are focused on delivering innovative therapies that significantly improve patients’ lives and investment in early stage research is critical to achieving this. Collaborations between industry and academia remain key in helping to expedite the translation of scientific discoveries into breakthrough therapies that matter for patients in need.”

In 2015, five proposals representing four institutions across Ireland were awarded similar funding. Over the past year the researchers have worked in collaboration with Pfizer colleagues on potential new therapies for diseases including haemophilia, fibrosis, Motor Neuron Disease, psoriasis and Crohn’s disease. A number of these programmes are advancing and are on track to reaching their goals.

 

The recipients of the SFI-Pfizer Biotherapeutics Innovation Award are:

  • Prof Martin Steinhoff, University College Dublin – Prof Steinhoff leads a translational research team attempting to understand the molecular mechanisms underlying skin inflammation and associated chronic itch, for which there remains a significant unmet clinical need. The team hopes to generate targeting molecules that block the activation of key players in these inflammatory pathways.

 

  • Dr Anne Moore, University College Cork – The remit of Dr Moore’s group is to develop and translate innovative therapies that modulate immune function. Mounting evidence from recent clinical studies demonstrates that harnessing the body’s own immune response to kill tumour cells can be a very effective mechanism to treat cancer. This collaboration aims to develop a novel strategy that enhances the body’s natural anti-tumour response.

 

  • Dr Leonie Young and Prof Arnold Hill, Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland – Dr Young and Prof Arnold Hill are interested in the underlying mechanisms that control breast cancer resistance to traditional chemotherapeutics. Their aim is to use pre-clinical models, clinical datasets and breast cancer patient samples to better characterize, and effectively target, treatment resistant breast cancers.

 

END

– See more at: https://www.djei.ie/en/News-And-Events/Department-News/2016/April/13042016d.html#sthash.FlmlNOjn.pmjb6x4D.dpuf

Facebook breaks ground at Clonee Data Centre

Action Plan for Jobs, I.T., Innovation, Jobs, Meath, Research, Research and Innovation, Science, Skills, Trim

6th April 2016

Today, Facebook is pleased to announce that construction began on the company’s newest data centre at Clonee, County Meath. Minister for Skills, Research and Innovation, Damien English T.D., took part in the ground-breaking ceremony alongside Tom Furlong, VP of Infrastructure at Facebook, Jackie Maguire, CEO Meath County Council, and Brian Fitzgerald, Chairman Meath County Council and Martin Shanahan, CEO IDA.

Development of a second building at the same site was also confirmed, bringing the total size of the facility to 621,000sq ft – the equivalent of 14 Aviva stadiums. The facility, Facebook’s first in Ireland and second in Europe, will become part of the infrastructure that enables billions of people to connect with the people and things they care about on Facebook and across its family of apps and services.

Facebook is also pleased to announce that the new data centre, as well as its international headquarters in Dublin, will be supplied with 100% renewable wind energy from BrookfieldRenewable’s Irish operations. Brookfield owns and operates a portfolio of renewable wind energy projects across Ireland totaling 465 MW and all renewable wind energy supplying Facebook’s facilities in Ireland is located in Ireland.

Ireland has been home to Facebook’s international headquarters since 2009 and the facility at Clonee continues Facebook’s significant investment in the country and in Europe. The company recently announced the creation of a further 200 jobs in Dublin in 2016, to add to the 1,300 employees it currently has.

Tom Furlong, VP of Infrastructure at Facebook, said:

“We’re thrilled to have found a home in Clonee and begin building our new data centre as we continue to expand our infrastructure in Ireland. Everything here has been as advertised — from the strong pool of talent for construction and operations staff; to the great set of community partners who have helped us move forward quickly; to the opportunity to power our facility with 100% renewable wind energy.”

“The new facility will be one of the most advanced and energy-efficient data centres in the world thanks to its cutting-edge Open Compute technology and use of 100 per cent renewable wind energy. The centre will be a crucial part of the infrastructure that helps Facebook connect billions of people around the world.”

 

Minister for Skills, Research and Innovation, Damien English, TD said:

“The Government’s policy of making Ireland an attractive location for investment by the multinational ICT sector had delivered major projects amongst them this new Facebook facility. Ireland has a growing position internationally in the provision of major Data Centres, which represents a fast expanding segment of the IT business. This is contributing to Ireland becoming a major world player in this area and helping to embed and expand the operations of the major Internet companies located here. I welcome Facebooks further commitment to Ireland with their investment in this Meath facility and I wish Facebook and their employees further success in the future. ”

Cathaoirleach of Meath County Council Cllr. Brian Fitzgeraldsaid that this morning’s ceremony was another positive step towards the building of the data centre:

“This is a very important project for Ireland, for Meath and particularly for the community in Clonee, having an internationally recognised company like Facebook in our county sends out a great message that Meath is an attractive place to invest in and to do business.”

Chief Executive, Jackie Maguire again welcomed Facebook to its new European operational base:

“The hard work of all the stakeholders, including IDA Ireland, to attract this world class enterprise to Meath has paid off. This project will bring additional jobs to the county and a welcome stimulus to the local economy. This development sends out a clear message to the business community in Ireland and abroad that Meath is open for business. It confirms that the challenges in our Economic Development Strategy for County Meath 2014 – 2022 are achievable.”

Martin Shanahan, CEO, IDA IRELAND said “IDA IRELAND is focused on facilitating investments into regions throughout Ireland. Facebook’s new data centre in Clonee, Co.Meath will provide a significant boost to the local economy – it’s a clear demonstration of the company’s ongoing commitment to Ireland.  When it comes to attracting the world’s best and most efficient data centres, Ireland is proving to be very attractive to the world’s top technology and internet based companies.”

Ralf Rank, Managing Partner at Brookfield, said: 

“With over 10,000 megawatts of operating hydro and wind capacity and a 7,000 megawatt renewable development pipeline globally, we are uniquely positioned to offer consumers long-term, carbon-free renewable power.  We are pleased to have Facebook as our first retail customer in Ireland and welcome the opportunity to work with a corporate leader focused on increasing the  use of renewable power”

– See more at: https://www.djei.ie/en/News-And-Events/Department-News/2016/April/06042016.html#sthash.0sVrJZ8y.7ZpuGGLc.dpuf

Government publishes ambitious Innovation Strategy – Innovation 2020: Excellence Talent Impact

Action Plan for Jobs, Biotech, I.T., Innovation, Jobs, Meath, Photonics, Research, Research and Innovation, Science, Skills, Startups, Wesmeath

The Minister  for Research, Innovation and Skills Damien English TD, together with the Taoiseach and the Minister for Jobs, today published Innovation 2020, Ireland’s 5-year strategy for research and development, science and technology.

The headline ambition of the Strategy is to increase total investment in R&D in Ireland to 2.5% of GNP. On current official projections, this would mean that over €5billion will be invested per year in R&D by the public and private sectors by 2020. This will represent almost doubling current levels of investment (€2.756billion in 2013).

Among the other ambitious targets to be delivered by the strategy are:

  • the number of research personnel in enterprise will be increased by 60% to 40,000
  • research masters and PhD enrolments will be increased by 30% to 2,250;
  • private investment of R&D performed in the public research system will be doubled
  • 40% increase in the share of PhD researchers transferring from SFI research teams to industry
  • Ireland’s participation in International Research Organisations will be expanded – we will apply for full membership of ELIXIR, and we will explore membership options for CERN and ESO
  • the network of Centres will be further developed, building critical mass and addressing enterprise needs;
  • a successor to the Programme for Research in Third Level Institutions will be rolled out to include investment in the creation of new, and the maintenance and upgrading of existing, facilities and equipment;
  • €1.25bn funding under the EU Framework Programme Horizon 2020 will be drawn down;
  • a new Programme of Funding for Frontier Research will be introduced, providing resilience and responsiveness to meet new challenges or opportunities as they emerge;
  • challenge-centric research will be initiated to stimulate solutions-driven collaborations bringing together enterprise, higher education institutions and public sector to identify and address national challenges
  • horizon-scanning – in the coming years a formal horizon-scanning exercise will be undertaken to identify areas of strategic commercial opportunity for Irish-based enterprises. This process will feed into the next research prioritisation exercise in 2018
  • international benchmarking – a series of structures will be put in place to benchmark Ireland’s performance in these areas against other comparable economies, and develop steps to improve our comparative performance

Launching the report, Minister of State for Research Innovation and Skills, Damien English TD said: “Developing the talent of our population is an underlying aim of Innovation 2020 and will be critical to the successful realisation of our national vision, giving Ireland the capacity to exploit opportunities both established and emerging. Our success in delivering on our vision will depend on our people – undertaking the research, working in and creating successful enterprises, and contributing to the society in which we live. We will support the full continuum of talent development from primary level through to Postdoctoral research and from frontier research across all disciplines to the practical application and the successful deployment of that talent and research in driving innovation in enterprises and public services.”

An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny TD said:

The Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton TD said:

Welcoming the launch of the strategy, Professor Mark WJ Ferguson, Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland, said: “I welcome the new strategy Innovation 2020 which highlights the importance of scientific research and innovation to all aspects of Ireland’s future and which confirms the Government’s commitment to increase both public and private investment in this area. Innovation 2020 builds on the considerable past successes and outlines some ambitious new plans such as challenge based funding. Science, innovation and technology are driving rapid global changes and the world is becoming more competitive. Ireland needs to continue to push forward: be the creators and owners of new ideas and innovations, upskill our people, strengthen and future proof our economy and society. Implementation of Innovation 2020 will allow us to do that: excellence, talent and impact.”

Minister English officially launches new €2.2 million research into blood cancers

Health, Innovation, Research, Research and Innovation
The Irish Cancer Society, and Science Foundation Ireland, working under the auspices of local Minister for Skills, Research and Innovation Damien English’s Department, are to invest €2.2 million in a new clinical research network for blood cancers.  

Irish patients will be among the first in the world to test new, potentially life-saving treatments under a new national clinical research network launched recently by local Meath West T.D. Damien English. The new network will bring fresh hope for blood cancer patients in Ireland.

The €2.2 million investment has established a new virtual clinical research network that will offer early stage haematology clinical trials, providing blood cancer patients in Ireland with the opportunity to be among the first in the world to test new, potentially life-changing, drugs and treatments

Commenting on this significant investment in cancer research, Minister for Skills, Research, and Innovation, Damien English TD said, “The establishment of Blood Cancer Network Ireland by Science Foundation Ireland and the Irish Cancer Society will bring real and tangible benefits to Irish cancer patients by helping to develop new treatments for blood cancer. It is in line with the Government’s policy of investing and focusing excellent scientific research that impacts positively on Ireland’s economy and society.”    

Over the next five years, Blood Cancer Network Ireland (BCNI) hopes to make novel drugs and treatments available to patients with all types of blood cancers across Ireland. The first clinical trials being rolled out through BCNI will bring fresh hope, in particular, to patients with difficult to treat blood cancers. Patients with Multiple Myeloma (MM) or Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML) will be among the first to take part in early phase clinical trials to test the safety and effectiveness of experimental and potentially life-saving drugs that are in development. Early stage clinical trials test the safety, efficacy, dosage, and side effects of new drugs and treatments on a small number of patients, usually at an advanced stage of disease. These trials are the first hurdle in the licensing process in the development of experimental drugs and treatments.