The SEUPB has announced that funding of over €8.5 million from the EU’s INTERREG VA Programme has been offered to Catalyst Inc for the creation of a new cross-border ‘super cluster’ within the Health & Life Sciences business sector.
The project is called the ‘North West Centre for Advanced Manufacturing’, and will be led by Catalyst Inc. It will support eight different key Health & Life Sciences companies involved in 15 different research projects based in the North West to develop new products and processes.
The project aims to enhance the level of cross-border research and innovation collaboration within the area of applied advanced manufacturing. It will also significantly increase the the number of Health & Life Science businesses engaged in commercially focused research in order to make them more competitive.
The project will bring together a number of partners in the creation of a new ‘super cluster’ including the Engineering Research Institute at Ulster University, the James Watt Nanofabrication Centre at Glasgow University, the PEM Centre at Sligo Institute of Technology and the CoLab facility at the Letterkenny Institute of Technology. Industry partners include Sphere Global, Randox, Lpe, Armstrong Medical, Nuprint, Abbott and GSK.
A total of 26 PhD level researchers, along with post-doctoral research assistants will be recruited over the life time of the project, to work with the eight participating companies, and create up to 98.5 years’ worth of PhD full time equivalent research.
Match-funding for the project has been provided by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation in Ireland, the Department for the Economy in Northern Ireland and the University of Glasgow.
Announcing the funding award Gina McIntyre CEO of the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB), which manages the EU’s INTERREG VA Programme said: “This project will make a real impact in terms of providing support for a business sector with strong economic potential. The research produced will be used to strengthen the economic outlook of businesses on a cross-border basis.
“This is one of the core objectives of the EU’s INTERREG VA Programme which has been specifically designed to enhance the levels of Research & Innovation found within businesses across the region,” she continued.
Commenting on the announcement, Dr Norman Apsley CEO Catalyst Inc said:
‘As lead partner for the North West Centre for Advanced Manufacturing, we are delighted that the project has been awarded this EU funding. At Catalyst Inc we are focused on advancing the Knowledge Economy and this project will support the development of new products and services by bringing together industry and academic partners to work on research projects deploying Advanced Manufacturing technologies within the Life and Health Sciences sector.
This will see the development of a virtual cross-border Centre for Advanced Manufacturing with a focus on four cross-cutting thematic areas, enabling our industry partners to benefit from additional research facilities and expertise which will have a positive impact on the companies and the wider economy.
Our aim is to increase the level of cross-border collaboration across the region and raise the levels of innovation both of which are key to the regions future economic success.’
A spokesperson for the Department for the Economy said: “Investment in research and development is critical to future economic growth. Strong collaboration between industry and academia will also contribute to success. The creation of this new super-cluster is a welcome development for the health and life sciences sector and a boost for the North West border region.”
Welcoming the project Ireland’s Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Mary Mitchell O’Connor, said: “I am delighted that this project has been approved and I am very happy that my Department is in a position to co-fund this project. It is a great example of practical cross border cooperation, which will bring strong economic benefits to the eligible regions in both jurisdictions. Manufacturing has been a key sector for us over the years, providing valuable jobs and investment. This new initiative will help drive competitiveness and enhanced value-added, at a time of significant technological change in the industry.”