Waterford Institute of Technology’s three Technology Gateways – SEAM (South Eastern Applied Materials), PMBRC (Pharmaceutical and Molecular Biology Research Centre) and TSSG in the Walton Institute – are among the successful applicants of the recent Capital Equipment Fund administered by Enterprise Ireland through the Technology Gateway and Technology Centre Capital programme.

32 successful projects from across the third-level sector have secured €6.4m in funding to assist them in purchasing world-leading research equipment that will serve the research and development (R&D) needs of Irish industry.

This is the second capital call of 2021. The previous call focused on equipment that has a well-establishing industrial need and is commonly used for specific applications. This latest call was expanded to include new or leading-edge equipment, enabling our third-level institutions to engage with industry on new and emerging technologies.

PMBRC has been awarded funding for three items: a dynamic vapour sorption system (DVS), a sputter coating system, and a cell culture suite consisting of a biosafety cabinet with a CO2 incubator and a fluorescence microscope. The largest of these items is the DVS system which is used to study the uptake of moisture and solvent vapours in materials. This is particularly important in the pharma and food sectors where formulations can absorb water from the atmosphere, which in turn can change material properties or cause food spoilage.

The sputter coating system will be used to apply thin films of conducting materials such as gold or graphite onto surfaces. This will allow the capture of sharper images at high magnifications during electron microscopy. The biosafety cabinet with a CO2 incubator and fluorescence microscope will be used for mammalian cell culture work in support of research with biopharmaceutical, biotechnology and drug delivery industry partners.

TSSG at Walton Institute was awarded funding for a Quantum Security Test Bed and Portable RF Spectrum Monitor. The Quantum Security Testbed, the first in Ireland, will consist of multiple banking grade security systems leveraging quantum technologies that industry can utilise and manipulate to create novel identity and data protection solutions. This will be particularly powerful for industries where trust is paramount such as those deployed for e-Health, finance, food production and energy.

The Portable RF Spectrum Monitor will enable Wireless Internet Service Providers (WISPs) to check a site or a link between sites for interference preinstallation, giving them the confidence and assurance that the link will perform as expected. WISPs, which have been scaling since the Covid-19 pandemic, are serving a wider set of the domestic remote worker and new local business parks, which in turn is showing an increased potential for interference. 

SEAM Research Centre was awarded funding for a Powder Morphology Analysis System. This versatile analysis system is capable of performing a wide range of different types of powder analysis and is an excellent match to SEAMs growing materials analysis capabilities. It will find application in a variety of research and industrial projects with diverse topics such as CFD simulation of powder flow, 3D metal printing, powders for medical applications and many more.

Speaking of the importance of the Capital Call Fund, Dr Geraldine Canny, Head of Research at WIT said, “Collaborations with industry are central to our activity. Investment in research infrastructure in WIT, the long awaited Technological University and the South East region is vital to enhance the innovative and productive capacity of the region and the country as a whole. Funding which WIT’s Technology gateways secure through this programme plays a critical role in enabling our research centres to effectively collaborate with companies on a range of R & D activities. Much of the equipment and services we provide companies access to is unique to the South East and, in some cases unique to Ireland. We would like to extend our sincere thanks to Enterprise Ireland for supporting our research and regional business.”

Since 2019 WIT’s Technology Gateways have secured over €3.6 million in funding for research equipment through the Enterprise Ireland Capital Call programme.