CRANN, the Government-funded nanoscience institute based at Trinity College Dublin announced that it secured €8 million of non-Exchequer funding for nanoscience research this year, an increase of 60% over investment secured in 2011. The investment has resulted in the creation of 50 full-time research jobs. €20 million of industry funding for research has been committed over the next six years to sustain and grow the institute.

CRANN is funded by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation through Science Foundation Ireland.

The announcement was made at CRANN’s Industry Showcase, which was officially launched by Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton T.D. and brought together 20 of CRANN’s research partner companies such as Intel, Merck Millipore and Hewlett Packard.

CRANN is one of the key drivers of Ireland’s growing international research reputation. Ireland has been ranked 6th globally for our research in nanoscience and 8th for materials science research. CRANN researchers were responsible for over 70% of the outputs leading to this national ranking. Nanoscience supports 250,000 jobs in Ireland, across the ICT, energy, medical and pharmaceutical sectors, and accounts for 10%, or €15 billion of annual exports.

Officially opening the showcase, Minister Bruton said:

“A key part of the Government’s plans for jobs and growth is ensuring not only that we continue to develop good ideas through scientific research, but also crucially that we turn more of them into products, services and ultimately good jobs. That is why we have put in place a series of changes to get more out of the State’s investment in this area, including a research prioritisation exercise, a one-stop shop for commercialising research and a new highly ambitious strategy from SFI which aims to become the best science funding agency in the world.

“Today’s announcement that this SFI-funded centre has attracted €8million in private sector funding which has created 50 full-time research jobs is a great example of precisely what we are trying to achieve with these reforms. I commend everyone at CRANN and in SFI involved in these investments, and am determined to ensure through strong implementation of these changes we can see announcements like this across the country in the coming years”.

Professor John Boland, Director of CRANN, added: “Today’s announcement illustrates the return on investment in scientific research in terms of the benefit to the Irish economy. Nanoscience is enabling the products and services of the future and Ireland’s researchers are at the heart of this innovation. Companies can partner with institutions from anywhere across the globe, but they are choosing to collaborate with CRANN as a result of our world class research. The Irish research community is a key factor in attracting foreign direct investment and the funding secured from industry is testament to the esteem in which CRANN is held.”

Leonard Hobbs, Head of Technology Research at Intel Ireland said; “Intel has collaborated with CRANN since its foundation, across a range of research areas, and it has been a very productive relationship. We continually challenge CRANN to help us research new breakthroughs in computing technologies and see significant benefits from the subsequent collaboration. It is an exciting time for nanoscience research and we are glad to be a part of the continual innovation here at CRANN. We believe that the Institute’s researchers and graduates are a valuable asset not only to our business, but to the business community across Ireland and internationally. We look forward to continuing our work into the future.”

At its Industry Showcase, CRANN demonstrated the types of projects it is working on with its 100 industry partners, based in Ireland and internationally. Such projects include:

  • Medtronic and Innovation Polymer Compound Ltd. – Partnering on the development of new polymers, incorporating nanomaterials, to be used as a vascular balloon to enable improved delivery of cardio vascular stents.
  • Eblana Photonics – Partnering on the characterisation and quality control of lasers used for the delivery of high speed broadband to the home.
  • Thomas Swan & Co Ltd – Partnering on the industrial scale-up of graphene production. Graphene is the wonder material of modern science and was the focus of the Nobel Prize in 2010. With unique properties, it is both the strongest and most conductive material known to man. There are many potential applications for graphene including next generation electronic devices, mechanically strengthened plastics and new thermoelectric materials.
  • SABMiller – Partnering on the development of nanomaterial which will prolong the shelf life of bottled beer in plastic bottles. The new material, when added to plastic bottles will make them impervious, meaning that oxygen cannot enter and that the carbon dioxide cannot escape, thus preserving the taste and ‘fizz’. As well as increasing the shelf life of the beer itself, less material is required in production, reducing cost and environmental impact.

CRANN also disclosed some its key milestones this year. During 2012 CRANN developed new industry funded collaborative research partnerships with SAB Miller, Merck Millipore, Thomas Swan, Intel, Eli Lilly, Western Digital and Medtronic. CRANN is now involved in collaborative support or contract research with over 100 companies, including major ICT companies, medical devices companies, pharmaceutical companies and industrial technology companies.

CRANN Principal Investigator, Professor Michael Coey, was named last week as Science Foundation Ireland’s researcher of the year. This is the second year in a row that a CRANN Principal Investigator has been presented with the award; Professor Jonathan Coleman received it in 2011.

CRANN has graduated over 150 PhDs in the last five years with over 50% of these directly to supporting Irish industry. Intel has hired over 20 PhDs from CRANN in the last two years. Graduates have also gone to other companies such as IBM, Merck Millipore and DePuy – helping to transform how these companies innovate within Ireland.

Additionally, since 2008, CRANN researchers have made 37 invention disclosures, 21 patent applications across international territories with four patents granted, resulting in two licenses. CRANN is currently collaborating with 180 academic institutions and 75 companies throughout Europe.