Regional Development Centre & Research Officethe linkIonad Forbartha Réigiúnach & Oifig Taighde Issue Eight Summer 2011 Novation: gunning for growth • What Hunt means for Research • Succession Planning • Digging Brú na BóinneWhere Research & Innovation Meets Enterprise
Réamhrá / Foreword Fís Na Todhcaí Vision Of The Future Cad a chiallaíonn Tuarascáil Hunt don earnáil tríú-leibhéal? Sin What does the Hunt report mean for the third-level sector? é an cheist go bhfuilimid uile ag machnamh faoi, ó foillsíodh an That’s the question we have all been pondering since the doiciméad le déanaí, ag leagadh amach straitéis 20-bliain don document, which sets out a 20-year strategy for the sector, was earnáil. published recently. Cé go n-éiríonn ceisteanna dlistineacha faoi conas go díreach While legitimate questions have been raised about exactly how a maoineofar na moltaí, tá mórán le fáiltiú san tuarascáil, go its recommendations will be funded, there is much to welcome speisialta an tacaíocht atá ann do: rannpháirtíocht straitéiseach in the report, particularly its backing for: trans-institutional trasinstitiúdach, infheistíocht méadaithe i T&F, nasc níos dlúithe strategic partnerships, increased investment in R&D, and a idir taighde and múineadh agus caidreamh feabhsaithe leis an closer linkage between research and teaching and enhanced bpobal gnó. engagement with the business community. Le bheith níos ginearálta, aithníonn sé “go mbeidh ról lárnach More generally, it recognises that “higher education will ag ardoideachas chun go mbeadh Éire aitheanta mar tír play a central role in making Ireland a country recognised for tugtha do nuálaíocht, fiontar iomaíoch agus feabhas acadúil innovation, competitive enterprise and continuing academic leantach”. Admhaíonn sé freisin lárnachas taighde agus an excellence”. It also acknowledges the centrality of research in geilleagar á thiomáint chun tosaigh, ag tagairt faoi ardoicheas driving the economy forward, describing higher education as mar “inneall do smaointe nua trí thaighde”. the “engine for new ideas through research”. Ba chóir a thabhairt faoi ndeara go bhfuil clár taighde agus It should be noted that the research and commercialisation tráchtálaíochta na hInstitiúide ag cur taca faoi na físeanna agenda across the Institute is already underpinning the visions leagtha amach i straitéisí an rialtais le déanaí, ar nós An set out in recent governmental strategies, such as the Smart Geilleagar Cliste, Clár don Rialtas agus Tuarascáil Hunt féin. Economy, Programme for Government and the Hunt report Léigh tuilleadh faoi seo ar leathanach 7. itself. Read more about this on page 7. Tugann Hunt muinín dúinn freisin go bhfuil cur chuige Furthermore, Hunt gives us confidence that the twin-track démhodhach an Ionaid Forbartha Réigiúnaigh agus Oifige approach taken by the Regional Development Centre and Taighde – taighde agus fiontar ag dul le chéil – díreach i gceart Research Office – where research and enterprise go hand in don lá atá inniu ann. Chun go mbeadh Éire faoi bhláth mar hand – is exactly the right one for the age we live in. For Ireland gheilleagar agus mar sochaí, ní foláir, ní amháin fostaíocht to thrive as an economy and society we must not just increase a mhéadú, ach leathnú tapa ar bhonn na bhfiontar cliste employment but rapidly expand the base of smart enterprises atá in ann postanna inbhuanaithe, ardluacha, tairbheacha a that can create sustainable, high-value, rewarding jobs. This chruthú. Ní tharlaíonn sin trí thimpist. Is gá ar dtús nuálaíocht doesn’t happen by accident. It first of all requires world-class den scoth i bhfoirm smaointe tráchtála inmharthana. Tá gá innovation translated into commercially viable ideas. It then ansin le réimse tacaí agus cláracha chun cabhrú le gnólachtaí needs a range of supports and programmes to help fledgling óga le linn na blianta tosaigh deacra sin. Sin é go díreach atá businesses through those difficult first couple of years. This is dá thairiscint ag an IFR agus is féidir léamh faoi mhórán dár exactly what the RDC offers and you can read about many of gcláracha ins na leathanaigh a leanann. our programmes in the following pages. Tá súil again go mbaineann tú taitneamh as eagrán seo Link. We hope you enjoy this edition of The Link. If you have any Má tá tuairimí nó moltaí agat faoin ábhar, nó más mian leat comments or suggestions regarding content, or would like to bheith ar liosta na seoltaí, cuir rphost led thoil chuig be included on the mailing list, please email email@example.com. firstname.lastname@example.org. Irene McCausland, Bainisteoir Seirbhísí Seachtracha,IFR Irene McCausland, External Services Manager, RDC Dr Tim McCormac, Ceannasaí Taighde, ITDD Dr Tim McCormac, Head of Research, DkIT Cover Photo Pictured at the launch of the DkIT DCU collaboration on the Novation Enterprise Platform Programme at the Battle of The Boyne Centre (L-R) Sean MacEntee, DkIT, Michael Brougham, Enterprise Ireland, Professor Brian McCraith, President DCU and Garrett Duffy, DkIT. The Regional Development Centre (RDC) is a centre to promote innovation, technology transfer and enterprise in the wider region and is based on the DkIT Campus.RESEARCH Great care has been taken to ensure that this information is accurate, but the Regional Development Centre, including its subsidiaries does not accept responsibility or liability for errors or information which is found to be misleading. Regional Development Centre Dublin Road Dundalk Co Louth Written & edited by Brian Skelly, T +353 42 9370400 F +353 42 9370499 The Write Business T + 353 86 857 5829 W www.rdc.ie E email@example.com 2 LINK Issue 8
ENTERPRISE 3 LINK Issue 8Book captures lessons from Irish entrepreneurs Technology, Institute of Technology Sligo and NUI Galway. The consortium is led by Dundalk Institute of Technology. “The cases can help enhance the student’s practical understanding of the theory of the entrepreneurship process and new venture development, as they highlight the dynamic process of entrepreneurship, whether this is in a new start-up, a community venture or a long-established business,” she said. Examining practices across almost the entire third and fourth level sector in Institutes of Technology and Universities, ACE aims to develop a range of educational programmes that will produce entrepreneurial graduates who can create indigenous employment or deliver benefit to employers of all kinds. Book editor Dr Cecilia Hegarty: “The cases can help enhance the student’s practical understanding of the theory of the entrepreneurship process and Additional achievements of the new venture development.” ACE initiative include the Student Entrepreneurship Internship Programme;How Irish entrepreneurs created and Included are valuable contributions from modules at various levels to developdeveloped their enterprises is the subject practitioners who tend not to publish and grow entrepreneurial mindsets andof a valuable new book produced by the but have a wealth of experience in behaviours; and new undergraduateAccelerating Campus Entrepreneurship working in or with SMEs or charitable and postgraduate programmes in(ACE) Initiative team. organisations. entrepreneurship in engineering and technology areas as well as non-businessEntitled “Irish Case Studies in disciplines such as early childhood/social- The case studies are suitable for use inEntrepreneurship”, the book was care education and biomedical engineering. entrepreneurship education and training,launched at the Regional Development particularly in higher education in Ireland A record of the book launch is available forCentre at Dundalk Institute of Technology and in the international context. download at the ACE website `in April. The book was edited by Dr Cecilia www.aceinitiative.ie.Over 100 guests attended the launch, Hegarty of the HEA-funded Strategicincluding policy-makers and enterprise Innovation Fund (SIF) Accelerated For more information on the ACEeducators as well as high-profile Campus Entrepreneurship (ACE) programme please email firstname.lastname@example.org academics from Europe. consortium – an innovative collaboration If you would like to order a copy of the between Institute of Technology book please email Oak Tree Press directly:After Dundalk IT President Denis Blanchardstown, Cork Institute of email@example.com.Cummins extended a warm welcome toguests, the book was formally launchedby Dundalk-born entrepreneur PaulKerley, who delivered an insightfulspeech on the practical realities ofentrepreneurship. The co-founder andCEO of Norkom Technologies, Kerleysuccessfully led the recent sale of Norkomto BAE Systems for €217 million.Afterwards, Dr Cecilia Hegarty gave anoverview of the SIF ACE Initiative, whileDr Thomas Cooney of Dublin Instituteof Technology spoke about the valueof using entrepreneurship cases inenterprise education.In the afternoon, the ACE case writersMichael Walsh and Aisling Conway ofCork IT led an interactive workshop forapproximately 20 academics on using thecases in the book. At the launch of ‘Irish Case Studies in Entrepreneurship’ were Michael Walsh (case writer,Published by Oak Tree Press, the book Cork IT); Dr Thomas Cooney (Dublin Institute of Technology); Dr Cecilia Hegarty (ACEcontains a unique mix of cases from both initiative/book editor); Paul Kerley (Norkom Technologies); Denis Cummins (President, Dundalk IT); Brian O’Kane (Oak Tree Press); Aisling Conway (case writer, Cork IT), and Irene for-profit and not-for-profit sectors. McCausland (External Services Manager, Dundalk IT).
DkIT President Denis Cummins (left) with DCU President Professor Brian McCraith DkIT to partner with DCU on NEPP 2011 Dundalk Institute of Technology and innovative networking and comprised almost €20 million) and 65% has announced that this year’s research opportunities for the course of participants who have taken part Novation Enterprise Platform participants. over a ten year period still in business, Programme (NEPP) is to be delivered DkIT is in a strong position to build and in partnership with Dublin City “Together, both Institutes will be in expand its current operation. University (DCU). a very strong position to encourage further growth through its participant Said programme manager Garrett NEPP offers businesspeople and businesses in both the home and Duffy, “By the end of 2011 the entrepreneurs alike nine months of export markets.” programme will have generated comprehensive business training and employment of more than 400. An advice. DkIT has successfully run the DCU President Professor Brian impressive €53 million has been programme for the past ten years McCraith added his solid raised in capital funding to date and and this year decided to expand endorsement. “Since its inception, the programme has already seen the opportunities being afforded to DCU has been known for its three national winners in the highly the 15 participants by collaborating collaborative engagement with prestigious InterTrade Ireland Seed- with DCU to provide an even industry. Because of this experience corn competition.” greater breadth of experience and and our extensive network of opportunity. contacts, we have a lot to offer The next NEPP programme, which will emerging entrepreneurs in terms of be delivered on both campuses, is open DkIT President Denis Cummins access to intellectual property and to to all graduates operating (or wishing explained the rationale behind the science. Our own Invent centre has to operate) in the hi-tech sector or partnership. firmly established DCU as a leading are proposing the development of a player nationally in technology novel product or service in the sector. “The Novation Enterprise Platform transfer and commercialisation. This Apart from expert business training Programme has been very successful initiative is a clear example of our and advice participants can expect and over the last ten years participant commitment to entrepreneurship mentoring in a very broad range of businesses have achieved a and we look forward to making a areas including business and personal cumulative sales turnover in excess of tangible contribution to the regional coaching, co-working facilities and €228 million. This has been achieved economy.” shared knowledge in accessingENTERPRISE with an investment from the HEA of investment funding. just €1.5 million. The success and track record of the DkIT Novation programme to date is The programme starts at the end of “We now want to build further clearly evident in a recent survey of June and places have now been filled. on that success. Working in current and past NEPP participants. For more information: visit collaboration with DCU and Invent With total sales generated in excess of www.rdc.ie/nepp or contact will afford additional, exciting €68 million in 2010 (of which exports firstname.lastname@example.org 4 LINK Issue 8
ENTERPRISE 5 LINK Issue 8STS to recruit more family businesses programme. What is expected though, is a deeper understanding of how to go about the process of succession and the impact various decisions can have on succession. By the end of the programme, companies will have developed a succession plan and a clearer idea of where the business could go in the future. Anyone – young or old – can plan for the succession of the family business. The STS programme involves three face-to-face workshops. In addition, participants can avail of targeted mentoring in the areas of psychology, finance, law and general business/ management. Mentors working with participating companies on the current programme include: Family business speaker Dermot McNally, Rossmore Furniture • Interventus, based in the North-westWith one set of participants well on the STS was launched in March 2010 and Dublin-based Kinchlyons Consultingway to completing the programme, the currently has one cohort undertaking FPM Chartered Accountants, based inSuccess Through Succession (STS) initiative the 12-month programme. Operating Belfast, Dungannon, Dundalkis now looking to recruit a second intake in a range of sectors from engineering and Newryof ten companies from the six southern to medical supplies, the companies are • Tierney Tax Consultants, basedborder counties of Ireland. drawn from counties Donegal, Leitrim, in Monaghan Louth, Monaghan and Sligo. • JMA Consulting, a psychology basedSTS is a unique programme designed to firm in Dublinhelp second and third generation family- During the programme, the STS • Belfast-based Envision Managementowned businesses negotiate difficult team helps family members gain Consultants.succession issues. Supported by the EU’s an understanding of the process ofINTERREG IVA programme, STS operates succession planning by identifying their To register your interest in thiswithin the border regions of Ireland, own individual needs and understanding programme, please email: email@example.comNorthern Ireland and Western Scotland. how these affect the family business and or phone the programme manager forThe programme is a joint initiative the family unit. Ireland, Dr Cecilia Hegarty onbetween Dundalk Institute of Technology, t +353 42 9370422.Glasgow Caledonian University and Actual succession is not expectedUniversity of Ulster, the programme leader. to be an immediate outcome of the2011 STS 2010-2011 participants:Programme Amray Medical, Drogheda, Co. Louth Dunview Ltd,Launched in Drumod, Mohill, Co. Leitrim Ferm Engineering,Monaghan STS participant speaker Margaret O’Kane, Glenmore Linens Donegal Town, Co. Donegal Glenmore Linens, Ballybofey, Co. DonegalFamily businesses from all six Matthews Coach Hire, the STS expert team.southern border counties along with Dundalk, Co. Louthvarious stakeholders attended the The guest speaker was Dermot Parkes Garage,launch event for the next round McNally from Rossmore Furniture. Ballisadere, Co. Sligoof companies taking part in STS The audience also heard humorous Silverstream Gardeners World,programme. accounts from three previous STS Silverstream, Co. Monaghan participant companies who haveDuring the event, held in the almost completed the programme. Wakely Engineering,Four Seasons Hotel in Monaghan, These were Margaret O’Kane, Dundalk, Co. Louthpotential participants were able to Glenmore Linens; Sheila Wakely, Ward Automation,hear more about the programme and Wakely Engineering; and Jim Mohan, Finisklin Business Park, Sligo, Co. Sligothe topic of succession planning from Silverstream Gardeners World. Wright Quarry Products, Carrickmacross, Co. Monaghan
Creative buzz abounds at ICE workshop The first group innovation workshop near the edge of a cliff to recovery. greatest assets, staff and customers. It for the Innovation for Competitive Peter Richardson, Sales and Marketing is important to put processes in place to Enterprises (ICE) project was held on 30 Manager of McAree Engineering Ltd, identify and capture those ideas so that March 2011 in the Templeton Hotel, Ballinode, Co Monaghan, related how they can be assessed and implemented Templepatrick, Northern Ireland. The his company survived by systematically effectively.” theme of the workshop was “Ideas in seeking, evaluating and implementing Business” and the creative buzz was ideas from its employee and ICE is recruiting for its second intake certainly palpable on the day among the customer base. of companies. 20 participating companies. The focus was on how to introduce creativity into Commenting on what the participants For further information visit the business, how to capture ideas from can achieve through the ICE, Programme www.iceprogramme.com and/or employees and customers and how to Manager Kieran Fegan said, “Real contact the Regional Development assess and evaluate new ideas before innovation is about great people Centre at DkIT on t +353 42 9370425. preparing the roadmap. generating and then implementing new Kieran Fegan can be contacted directly ideas. Ideas can come from anywhere but on t +353 87 417 4681 or ICE, which has received approximately more often they can come from our two firstname.lastname@example.org. €2.5 million of support under the EU’s INTERREG IVA Programme with assistance from Scottish Enterprise, is spearheaded Participants get creative during the recent ICE programme workshop. by Dundalk Institute of Technology. Also participating in the programme are the University of Ulster, the University of Glasgow and Glasgow Caledonian University. ICE’s mission is to enhance the innovation capacity of local businesses through an intensive 12-month practical programme. The three-year project will enable 90 company participants to develop new business models, products and services. The first speaker at the workshop, occupational psychologist Ruth Thompson from Team BDS, the programme delivery partner, focused on creativity: where it comes from, how to improve it in a business context and how to create the appropriate environment so as to maximise the potential for “good” creativity. Her colleague Malachy Mooney then introduced methodologies for Tragic death of John brainstorming and idea creation in the context of the overall strategy for a business. He went through practical Delaney, founder of RDC tenant company Intrade techniques for exploring possibilities and pushing creative boundaries, before rounding off this session by showing attendees how to evaluate ideas for business needs and to perform rough John Delaney, founder of RDC “A keen mountaineer who had scaled and detailed evaluations. Incubation company Intrade, an several of the world’s highest peaks, online software provider for the John was on his second expedition to After lunch, there followed a group prediction market, which allows Everest, having been beaten back by exercise in which participants, faced users to bet on world political, bad weather on his first attempt five with real business issues, had to practise entertainment and financial events, years ago”. techniques of brainstorming, idea died tragically on the 21st of May creation and idea evaluation. There was while attempting to summit Mount The management and staff of DkIT plenty of head-scratching and biro-Enterprise Everest. He was 42 years of age. and the Regional Development Centre chewing as they applied themselves to would like to express their deepest the task. The companies then presented Carl Wolfenden, Operations Manager sympathies to John’s wife Orla, their their innovative solutions to the at Intrade, said it had been John’s two sons Caspar and Alexander and scenarios posed. lifelong ambition to climb Mount daughter Hope. Everest, the world’s highest peak. The day closed with a real-life case study – one company’s journey from 6 LINK Issue 8
RESEARCH 7 LINK Issue 8 established collaborative relationships with industry. In this regard it should be noted that over 30% of DkIT’s secured research funding since 2005 has been awarded by Enterprise Ireland so as to underpin our commercialisation agenda. This has led to the establishment of two applied research enhancement centres within the areas of ageing and health, whose primary role is to support indigenous industry. This injection of funding has allowed our researchers to enhance their intellectual property (IP) portfolios substantially, thereby strengthening partnerships Head of Research Tim McCormac says DkIT has always had a strategic and focused with industry at both a regional and approach to research. national level.In tune with the times Hunt also clearly articulates the importance of having a research-informed teaching and learning mission. The Institute is committed to ensuring that this is theThe research priorities outlined in the recent Hunt report are case at both third and fourth level. Howalso those that have been pursued by Dundalk IT in recent this is being implemented on the ground includes: ensuring all research activeyears, writes Head of Research Tim McCormac. academics are embedded within their academic schools and that they deliverEarlier this year the Irish Government • Embracing the arts, humanities and directly on undergraduate programmes;through the Department of Education and social sciences. having a research-informed curriculumSkills published the Hunt report entitled, such as taught masters programmes“National Strategy for Higher Education Given these priorities, it is clear that the across a broad range of disciplines,to 2030”. Its principal aim is to provide a Institute’s current strategic approach to which have been developed directlyroadmap for the development of the Irish research, innovation and knowledge by the Institutes’ research centres; andhigher education sector towards 2030 transfer is on the right path. Specifically, exposing undergraduate students towith an emphasis on ensuring that it can having a focused and strategic approach the Institute’s research agenda throughmeet the social, economic and cultural to research where critical mass and targeted initiatives, such as the Summerchallenges that will lie ahead for sustainability can be achieved in selected Undergraduate Research Programme,Irish society. prioritised areas of regional, national whereby undergraduate students and international importance has always undertake six-week research projectsIn terms of the research agenda, the been the primary driver of our research embedded within the Institute’sreport follows on from previous key agenda. To this end the Institute has in research teams.policy documents which have advised place internationally recognised researchpolicy makers, funding bodies and higher teams who carry out research of a The Institute has a history of beingeducation institutions on their research translational nature which impacts upon involved in fourth level PhD educationdirection. The Institute’s strategic direction society and the economy, in areas such within its prioritised research areas.in terms of its research, innovation and as health, ageing, energy, environment, Key to this has been ensuring that PhDknowledge transfer activities has always creative arts, software engineering, researchers attain a high level of educationbeen informed and guided by both its humanities and social sciences. Since 2005 and training so as to allow them to exitinternal environment and these key policy over €35 million in research funding has the Institute possessing both discipline-documents, and the recent Hunt report is been secured from both national and specific and generic “transferable” skills.no exception to this. international funding sources. We believe This structured approach to PhD education the future sustainability of our research is has been achieved, and will continueThe report discusses various aspects of the principally due to the Institute’s ability to to be, through direct partnerships withhigher education system, such as teaching secure both recurrent and capital research university partners such as through theand learning, research, engagement with funding from a wide base of national and recently announced Structured PhDthe wider community, system governance, international sources. programme within the area of Bioanalysisinternationalisation and a future and Therapeutics (BioAT) led by Dublin Cityfunding model for the sector. Associated Hunt also recommends that Institutes of University (DCU) (see report on page 8).with each of these areas the strategy Technology “participate in regional clustersgroup have highlighted a series of key with partner universities in order to deliver As can be seen from the above, not onlyrecommendations. On the research front on a range of national policy outcomes”. does Dundalk IT have a vibrant researchthese include: This is already happening, with Institute programme but the Institute prides itself researchers being formally aligned on ensuring that the research conducted• Ensuring Institutions build research with several national strategic research here is attuned to the needs of modern capacity through a prioritised approach collaborative programmes involving both society and the smart economy. The which informs teaching university and industrial partners. publication of the Hunt report gives• Establishing a national PhD educational us great confidence that the research framework Hunt prioritises, in addition, the conversion capability built up here over many years• Ensuring that all research-performing of publicly-funded research into has real relevance and value and that institutions interact both with the private commercial returns. This is based upon we can continue to make a valuable sector and society at large, thereby the higher education Institutes having contribution to national progress over the underpinning knowledge transfer effective technology transfer processes and coming challenging years.
DkIT joins groundbreaking PhD programme Dundalk IT has been confirmed as one student registered on the structured and Science who carry out research within of the five partner institutes on a new PhD programme in DkIT, for example, the areas of bioanalysis and therapeutics structured PhD programme in the area of will now have the opportunity to train will participate in this programme. Bioanalysis and Therapeutics (BioAT). with and learn from researchers in, say, They will be drawn from the Institute’s NUI Maynooth, in areas related to their Smooth Muscle Research Centre and The four-year programme, which begins research interests, thus enhancing the Electrochemistry Research Group. October next, is being led by DCU quality of their training. in partnership with DkIT, IT Tallaght, Dr Tim Mc Cormac, Head of Research, NUI Maynooth and the Royal College The type of research that students on the Dundalk Institute of Technology, said: “We of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI). DkIT’s programme will be engaged with will are delighted to join this structured PhD involvement in the programme will be range from diagnostics and biomedical programme. The collaboration fits well with primarily through its researchers from devices to cancer and cardiovascular our approach of working with other higher within the Institute’s internationally disease. education institutions as the entire sector renowned Smooth Muscle Research Centre. responds to the challenges set for us by As well as offering students a wide range the National Strategy for Higher Education Funded by the Higher Education Authority of technical/scientific modules to choose to 2030 published by Government earlier (HEA) under the Programme for Research from, a very important aspect of the this year. The programme also underlines in Third Level Institutes (PRTLI) 5, it will programme is enabling students to polish the postgraduate opportunities that are initially support 29 students. their commercial skills, too. increasingly available at Dundalk as we build our presence at fourth level in line What makes the programme unusual, “One of the key aims of the PhD with the drive towards the northeast being according to programme director Dr programme is to prepare our graduates central to the ‘Smart Economy’.” Christina Loscher, is its integrated for entry into the commercial and clinical nature. “This means that students in environments. So we offer transferrable Loscher believes the programme will not the programme will have full access skills modules, which have been developed only benefit the participating students from to graduate modules across all of the in consultation with industry,” DkIT but will also strengthen the research partner institutes. That’s one of the key said Loscher. links between DkIT and partner institutes. advantages of the programme: it gives “Certainly DkIT has really embraced coming students access to expertise outside of “These offer training in commercial into the programme this year and we’re what their own institution can offer them. awareness, patent and licensing, delighted about that.” innovation and entrepreneurship, “There is a wide range of research areas leadership in the research environment and Dr Declan Raftery, Director of Research in which each institution would have professional development. These equip Support Services at DCU, says “We are expertise; by collaborating we can make students with what we call ‘graduate skills delighted that DkIT will be joining the BioAT those research areas a bit stronger.” and attributes’. We want graduates at the programme. This collaboration will build on end of this programme who are not just our relationship with DkIT and strengthenRESEARCH Traditionally, PhD students have been excellent scientists but who can function our collaborations along the eastern allocated a supervisor within their own within leadership roles in industry.” corridor.” institute and have worked solely with them right through their doctorate It is understood that, initially, PhD research More information about the programme studies. Under the new scheme, a students from within the School of Health can be found at www.dcu.ie/bioat. 8 LINK Issue 8
RESEARCH 9 LINK Issue 8 a good indicator that there may have been a settlement of other activity at a particular location,” he explained. Based on the cluster patterns he uncovered, he embarked on a Conor Brady: Dr going back on- three-year project site at Rosnaree funded by the this summer. Heritage Council to discover whether the cluster of tools found had a corresponding human settlement nearby. This meant using a number of geophysical surveys using hi-tech equipment that could ‘see’ underneath the soil and map structures or other features. Although he came across no evidence of housing in several of the locations, some sites were suggestive of human habitation and warranted further exploration.Unlocking It was one of these – at Rosnaree, on the banks of the River Boyne – which was the focal point of last summer’s dig. The primary aim of the work,more secrets of which was grant-aided by the Royal Irish Academy, was to find some organic material at the site which could then be radiocarbon-dated in order to findBrú na Bóinne whether or not it dated back to the Stone Age. While no evidence of a Stone Age settlement was found, artefacts dating from the early medieval period were,By the nature of their work, most suggesting that the initial Neolithicresearchers spend a lot of time digging settlement had been built on severalfor new information but few do so as thousands of years later. Brady isliterally as Dr Conor Brady. A lecturer planning to return this summer to do ain landscape archaeology within the second dig at the site – or as he puts itDepartment of Humanities, Brady to “have another bite at the cherry” –spent last summer leading a dig at Brú to see whether he can find that elusivena Bóinne (‘Palace of the Boyne’), Co evidence of Stone Age structures.Meath – home to Newgrange. Helping him will be a number of Archaeology students from Dundalk IT,“My research interests centre on Brú Sifting through the evidence who, he says, will have a chance “to getna Bóinne, the prehistoric settlement, at Rosnaree. hands-on excavation experience whichand the landscape around it. I did has been difficult to get these lastmy PhD research down there and I’ve few years.”been doing various pieces of follow-up doing apart from building and usingresearch there since then, culminating monuments?” he says. Brady developed a serious interest inin the excavation last summer,” archaeology while working as a tourhe explained. The starting point for this research guide at Newgrange. He did a BA in was a well known archaeological Archaeology at UCD, which he followedBut rather than attempt to uncover technique known as field-walking. with a research masters there. He joinedmore monuments, tombs or “You walk agricultural fields shortly the lecturing staff at Dundalk IT inpassageways – which is what this after they’re ploughed. Stone tools 2002, completing his PhD in 2007.UNESCO World Heritage Site is famous that might have been used in thefor – Brady took a quite different tack. Stone Age will remain in the soil and Last summer he kept a diary of the“A lot of focus is on the monuments a certain number of them are turned Rosnaree dig in the form of a blogon the site but my particular angle was to the surface every season after which he says was a good way of lettingto look at the so-called ‘blank spaces’ ploughing takes place. Systematically people know how it was moving along.between the monuments to see what collecting these and plotting their He plans to resurrect the blog again thistype of settlement and land-use activity location allows distribution maps summer. Readers can follow his progresswas going on. Basically I was asking to be drawn up. Where you get at http://rosnareedig.wordpress.com.what else were the people in the area clusters of artefacts occurring that’s
Student Profile: Nargis Anwar, Electrochemistry Research Group One of the buzzwords in research development of novel immobilisation number of European companies, has today is “mobility” – the ability strategies of polyoxometalates onto allowed her to see how research is for researchers to train and work both metallic and semiconducting commercialised for the benefit of anywhere in the world and the surfaces for applications in molecular private sector. benefits it confers not only on the electronics and sensor technology. researcher but also on the host “Polyoxometalates are a particular Anwar has no ‘typical’ working day organisation/country. type of chemical compounds – her routine depends on what she’s which have specific properties working on at the time. Sometimes Nargis Anwar personifies the new that make them suitable for use she is in lab conducting experiments breed of international researcher, in electrochemistry,” she explains. or at the computer, analysing results who is willing to travel to further “That’s my main area of research.” and writing up her findings. Other their education and career. Raised Anwar has spoken at a number of days are taken up with working on and educated to degree level in high-profile chemistry conventions, the EU-funded project. Lahore, eastern Pakistan, Anwar came including the Chemistry Colloquium to Ireland four years ago in order to in Belfast last year and the recent Looking to the future, Anwar says pursue a career in electrochemistry. Eirelec ’11 – Electrochemistry of the she wants to continue to develop She was awarded a scholarship to do Future conference in Limerick, at her career in research as a postdoc a postgraduate research masters in which she shared the latest findings and lecturer – although, she chemistry within Dr Tim McCormac’s of her research. acknowledges, opportunities for electrochemistry group at IT Tallaght. lecturing are relatively scarce in When he moved to Dundalk IT two Separate to her PhD work, Anwar is the current funding environment. years ago as head of research, his also involved in an EU Framework Ultimately she would like to run her three PhD researchers, including 7-funded industrial project which own research group. “I love research Anwar, came with him. is concerned with inspection of and want to be in research for the leaks – in for example refrigeration whole of my life.” Now a dissertation-stage PhD student, units – for environmental purposes. the main focus of Anwar’s work is the This experience, which involves a Cross-border eco-survey Dundalk IT’s Centre for Freshwater According to Centre Director Dr Suzanne Studies is to play a key role in a new Linnane, wetlands are a key natural multi-million-euro geo-environmental resource in that they support a diverse project that will carry out extensive survey ecology as well as lock in carbon. The work in the border counties over the next new project should add greatly to our three years. understanding of them, she says. The €5 million Tellus Border project aims “Wetlands are often not well to maintain or improve the condition understood, particularly their hydrological Field samples from Northern Ireland and management of soils, stream waters being analysed in the lab. processes – the water movement through and ground waters across the border them. Changes to the surrounding land Researchers doing fieldwork as part of counties and in Northern Ireland. The use, through agriculture and planning the first Tellus project. project builds on the award-winning for example, have impacted the wetlands Tellus Project in Northern Ireland, which over time. We’ll be looking at how they produced new environmental maps and have reacted to this land use and what digital data of soils, rocks and stream state they’re now in.” waters of the whole of Northern Ireland. Studying the wetlands will produce the The new project - a joint initiative data needed to improve their stewardship between the Geological Survey of over the long term, as Linnane explains. Ireland (GSI), the Geological Survey of Northern Ireland (GSNI), Dundalk Institute “If we understand the link between theRESEARCH of Technology and Queen’s University, ecological characteristics of wetlands and Belfast - has a number of research the hydrogeology we’ll actually be able strands, one of which is the hydrological, to do more cost effective and intelligent hydrogeological and hydrochemical monitoring of the wetlands system.” characterisation of representative wetlands. This strand will be led by the Centre for Freshwater Studies.10 LINK Issue 8
RESEARCH 11 LINK Issue 8ICBC team “close to success”with bladder drug candidate class” for the treatment of a condition of incontinence known as ‘overactive bladder’ (see panel). After almost two years and two patent applications it appears the team is close to success. Like many drug discovery programmes that originate in academia, the original basis of the discovery was serendipitous, and led to an extensive effort to identify the minimum essential structure, optimise the drug design for specificity to the target and reduce observable interactions that could lead to side effects. The data contained in the patent applications has been generated with the support of Enterprise Ireland ARE funding. Further commercialisation funding is now being sourced, in addition to investigating licensing out PhD student Bernard Drumm collects images of calcium movement within cells to determine their reaction to drugs. the drugs and their patent applications to interested companies for later stage development.An exciting project that has taken a multidisciplinaryapproach to creating intellectual property shows all the signs The team at ICBC believes it has a recipe for drug discovery.of being commercially valuable, writes Dr Mary Earle. “Multidisciplinary teams bring newDrug discovery is often associated with The Ion Channel Biotechnology Centre and valuable perspectives to the drug-large multidisciplinary teams working in (ICBC) comprises approximately 20 discovery process and enables us tocorporate settings on defined drug scientists encompassing a multitude reach conclusions faster through a welltargets known to be involved in specific of disciplines including physiology, controlled iterative process,” states Profdisease processes. electrophysiology, molecular biology McHale, director of the ICBC. and chemistry. Led by Prof Noel McHale,Teams of people spend years and vast and principal investigators Drs Mark Dr Mary Earle, MBA, is Centre Manager,sums of money attempting to develop Hollywood, Gerard Sergeant and Keith Ion Channel Biotechnology Centre.compounds that are “first in class”, Thornbury, the result is a team thatwith a new mechanism of action that develops, synthesises and tests newcan result in added benefits over current chemical entities against precise biologicaltreatments. In particular, the industry targets for applications in diseases whereseeks medications with fewer side effects,more potent activity or greater tolerability. there is a real unmet need. What is ‘overactive ICBC has synthesised and tested over 80 bladder’?However, large pharmaceutical companies compounds that are activators of a specifichave repeatedly failed to achieve these ion channel called ‘BK’. (Ion channels aregoals and, as they begin to retreat from pore-forming proteins that are critical ‘Overactive bladder’ is a conditionthis area, it is now increasingly becoming in mediating cell and tissue relaxation, where the smooth muscle liningthe role of academia to embark on early contraction and secretion, influencing the bladder becomes hyperactive.stage drug discovery where there is many bodily processes and involved in It requires a solution that willfocused knowledge of a specific target organs and tissues such as the bladder, the facilitate quietening of this muscleand capacity for greater risk, creativity lungs, blood vessels, nerves and the gut.) and subsequent relaxation of theand innovation. bladder leading to alleviation BK channels vary in their structure and of the sensation of needing toAn Applied Research Enhancement function, depending on the tissue in which urinate, despite a zero or limitedCentre, funded by Enterprise Ireland at they are found, and therefore drugs affect volume of urine in the bladder.Dundalk Institute of Technology, has these structures and tissues differently.been working on an exciting project that The condition is not well treatedhas taken a multidisciplinary approach The goal of the team at the ICBC is to medically and as such requiresto creating intellectual property that generate a drug candidate that is specific intervention using a new classshows all the signs of being commercially for BK channels found in smooth muscle of drugs, such as those beingvaluable. of the bladder in order to develop a developed at the ICBC. drug that can be effective and “first in
Dundalk research Research Undergraduate repository goes live Summer An online research bank which can store thousands of academic papers, published showcases the research being produced here. Finally, journals are becoming more School articles, book chapters, patents, PhD and more expensive every year and the dissertations and many other types of more research that’s on open access This summer, Dundalk IT is research output has been unveiled by DkIT. the less we’re reliant on these journals running a Research Summer and the Institute can save money [on Placement Programme aimed Dundalk Repository (http://eprints.dkit.ie) subscriptions] as a result.” at giving students exposure to a allows researchers to upload their academic wide range of research projects work and share it free of charge with She adds that the trend towards online taking place within the college. the national and international research repositories has been embraced by community as well as members of academic journals, the vast majority of The different research groups/ the public. which (92%) allow researchers to upload centres within the college devise a pre-print version of their article to the projects; students then apply Commenting on the repository, DkIT a repository. to ones they are most interested President Denis Cummins said, “The in. There are 20 projects in establishment of Dundalk Repository is Dundalk Repository is powered by an all, falling into the following an extremely important milestone in the archiving system called ePrints, developed categories: Institute’s overall research strategy. While by the University of Southampton, but the benefits of research for learning and the user interface has been substantially • Health and Ageing teaching and the impacts on society modified for the benefit of local users by • Energy and Environment are well understood, these impacts can Andrew Clarke of Computer Services. • Music and Creative Media be only be realised through the public • Entrepreneurship dissemination of research. Since it has only recently been completed, the Repository contains To view current projects on “This repository greatly enhances the only a small number of items but this offer please visit dissemination process and will, in time, is expected to grow significantly as www.dkit.ie/research/ build to be one of the most important researchers learn about the system and undergraduateresearch2011. resources for researchers, not just in DkIT start to use it. The library is running but also nationally and internationally.” workshops throughout June to explain The paid placements will element design how the system works and show include an official welcome and Nicola Hanlon, assistant librarian at DkIT, researchers how to upload their work. induction on research at DkIT. In says the repository is in keeping with a addition, experienced research global trend among third-level institutes Once it has been populated with a critical supervisors will talk about the to open their research output to a wide mass of content, the Research Repository research that’s under way, while [t] 042 9327943 audience and reap the associated benefits. will be integrated with the national current research students will research repository, Rian (rian.ie), which relate their experiences. There “Developing a repository has a number of already contains thousands of research will also be workshops on areas benefits. Ease of access is one: by having papers from across the university sector. such as ethics and intellectual all your research in one place you can find Dundalk will be only the second institute property. Students will actively [e] email@example.com what you need very quickly. Secondly, of technology (after DIT) to have its participate in a research team and be invited to showcase theirRESEARCH because the repository is open access, research output available on Rian. ie, visible to the world wide web, there work at a special event is a higher chance of your paper being For more information about Dundalk to mark the end of the cited – in fact a survey last year showed a Repository contact Nicola Hanlon, DkIT placement scheme. 60% increase in citations for papers that librarian (firstname.lastname@example.org). were on open access. Thirdly, it’s a source http://eprints.dkit.ie. of prestige for the Institute because it