€30m Irish photonics centre opens

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On the 24 January, Ireland's minister for research and innovation, Sean Sherlock, launched a €30 million Irish Photonic Integration Centre (IPIC) led by Tyndall National Institute in collaboration with University College Cork (UCC), Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) and Dublin City University (DCU). The centre in Cork will be used to develop and commercialise new light-enabled technologies, and is expected to create 200 jobs in the process.

The new Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Research Centre brings together over 100 researchers from the institutes and will work with 18 industry partners including multinationals, Irish SMEs and high-tech start-ups.

Targeting the ICT and medical devices sectors, IPIC will work with industry to develop the next generation of highly-compact and miniaturised photonics technologies. Over the next six years, the centre has ambitious plans to create 200 new jobs through 30 research projects and the commercialisation of new photonic technologies. The centre’s work will focus on revolutionising the speed of data transfer, creating more energy efficient devices and delivering new smart medical devices for improved diagnosis and treatment of disease.

An investment of €20 million will be awarded to the centre from the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation through SFI’s Research Centres Programme, with an additional €10 million generated from industry. It will also act as a high-tech start-up base, with new high-tech company, X-Celeprint already committed to base its headquarters in Tyndall and to create up to 20 jobs in the next two years.

Speaking at the IPIC launch, minister Sherlock said: ‘This investment of €20 million of taxpayers' money, with an additional €10 million from industry, is further proof of the Government's commitment to Irish research. IPIC represents one of the strongest research teams in Europe. ‘

Outlining the vision for IPIC, Paul Townsend, IPIC director, said: ‘The launch of IPIC represents an exciting new chapter in photonic research in Ireland, which aims to achieve both measurable economic impact and global scientific recognition for Ireland in this sector. The centre brings together a full research ‘value chain’ with expertise that spans from semiconductor and bio-materials, through integrated photonic and microelectronic circuits, to fully-packaged photonic systems. As a result, IPIC will be uniquely placed to drive new advances in photonic science and technology.’

Professor Mark Ferguson, director deneral of SFI and chief scientific adviser to the Government added: ‘This is an excellent example of the kind of collaboration between industry and academia that we will continue to encourage. IPIC’s collaboration with X-Celeprint demonstrates the importance of continuing to strengthen the links between academia and industry in a way that supports innovation and the creation of important new jobs and enterprise. I am confident that IPIC will contribute to future growth in jobs and prosperity.’