AIT Host the Leaders of Business & Industry in their Inaugural Dinner & Research Showcase

On Tuesday 30th January, AIT hosted its inaugural Business & Industry dinner to celebrate regional industry and business leaders, to acknowledge AIT as a centre of excellence and showcase its future research strategy. Since its foundation almost 50 years ago, Athlone Institute of Technology has developed strong links with industry throughout the midland region and nationally and It has worked with and supported both regional and national industry through the provision of highly skilled graduates in a number of core areas.

Professor Ciarán Ó Catháin in his opening address gave the audience an overview of the constant investment in the Institutes innovation infrastructure in recent years including;

  • The HEA co funded €2.5 million purpose built research hub in 2010.
  • €36m Engineering and Informatics Building opened in 2011
  • 250m2 expansion of APT building in 2018.
  • 1,100m2 expansion of MIRC in 2018 –funded by Enterprise Ireland.
  • Midlands Manufacturing & Polymer Technologies Campus – focus on Advanced/Additive Manufacturing technologies, Industrial/Product Design and ‘Smart Factories.
  • Funding for a new STEM building for AIT which was announced October as part of the Department of Education and Skills €200 million investment in Institutes of Technology. It will create additional capacity for up to 1,000 additional STEM students, enabling AIT to provide for increase student demand on STEM programmes to feed the region and drive the life science and biopharma / medtech agenda.

President of AIT Professor Ciarán Ó Catháin, when speaking of AITs research strategy said that “AIT has been building its research profile over recent decades and has in place the conduits to transfer knowledge and technologies in a manner that supports regional and national industry-based partners such as our ongoing joint activity with Ericsson. Its growing number of industry projects and consistently strong performance in innovation vouchers demonstrate that the institute is already a considerable distance on the journey to meeting the relevant TU criterion and indeed exceeding it.”

Professor Ó Catháin added that “The Institute has developed strong links with industry throughout the Midland Region. This is a key to ensuring that the Midland Region gains from the economic recovery and that this will help to bring investment to the Region and help spread the economic recovery.”

In terms of industry engagement, AIT works with its national, international and regional partners to drive two key objectives, firstly to increase the competitive advantage of Irish-based companies through collaborative knowledge, skills and innovation and secondly to increase the number of high-growth knowledge-based start-ups and FDI companies in the region. As the sole higher education provider in a large region with a declared goal of playing a catalytic role in the social, economic and cultural development of its catchment, AIT has cultivated a range of valued partnerships and the event acknowledged the ready input of so many regional and national enterprises and agencies.

The event showcased the institutes focus on three strategic areas based on core competencies built up over many years; namely materials, biosciences and software and it showcased the work of the three research institutes.

The MRI is the home of polymer and materials research at AIT - its core areas of expertise include Polymer Processing, Additive Manufacturing, Smart Manufacturing, Composites and Upscaling, Biomedical Materials and Controlled Release. The MRI hosts the Applied Polymer Technologies Technology Gateway. The SRI conducts applied research in Digital Media Communications and Applications, Network and Infrastructure Management, Cloud Security and Smart Manufacturing. SRI hosts the COMAND Technology Gateway. The BRI’s areas of expertise include Microbiology, Toxicology, Chemical Synthesis and Analysis, Cell and Molecular Biology, Immunology, Parasitology, Biotechnology and Food Science. AIT also host two Enterprise Ireland funded Technology Gateways in APT - Applied Polymer Technologies and COMAND - Connected Media Application Design and Delivery.

The Midlands Innovation and Research Centre is AIT’s campus business incubator provides incubation facilities and business development support for knowledge-based start-ups. The MRIC delivers the AIT-Maynooth University New Frontiers enterprise programme in partnership with Enterprise Ireland and is a location of ESA Space Solutions Centre Ireland which supports entrepreneurs and companies with innovative ideas for using space technology to develop new products and services in a non-space environment

AIT is also part of the recently launched SFI-funded CONFIRM Centre for Smart Manufacturing led by UL-Tyndall which aims to transform and grow Irish manufacturing by integrating intelligence within products, machines, production systems and supply chains. AIT is involved in or leading a significant number of the Centre’s planned Work Packages and Targeted Projects.

Professor Ó Catháin concluded by adding, “Our vision as the HEI in the region is not only to educate students but to continue to work with industry and other stakeholders to ensure that the region continues to grow and prosper so that our students can stay and work in the region, live in the region, raise families and continue the cycle forward for the betterment of the region. We want to be your partner of choice for enterprise, focusing our applied research, innovation and enterprise support activities on addressing the needs of regional and national industry by proactively collaborating with startups and established companies and by providing a comprehensive range of knowledge intensive services, with a focus on SMEs.”

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