Athlone Institute of Technology's APT and COMAND are Enterprise Ireland's most successful centres of R&D excellence working with industry
Athlone Insitute of Technology has been awarded €1,137,940 million in Enterprise Ireland funding to purchase highly specialist equipment for its two technology gateways – Applied Polymer Technologies (APT) and Connected Media Application Design and Delivery (COMAND).
APT, which provides polymer technology solutions for companies in the medical, composite, recycling and pharmaceutical sectors and is housed within the institute’s Materials Research Institute, has been awarded the bulk of the funding, €973,189, for seven pieces of highly specialised equipment, among them a 3D scanner, micro moulder and a free former machine – the first of its kind in the Republic of Ireland.
The equipment approved for funding is intended for extremely advanced applications, and will enable Athlone Institute of Technology to better serve the needs of Ireland’s €2 billion plastics industry, particularly in regard to upskilling, research and development techniques, and providing world-class consultancy to companies and helping them execute their technological road maps.
“Receiving this funding is a huge endorsement of the work that we’re doing and will enable us to support companies interested in trying out new technologies and techniques, all of which will enable their own innovation agendas,” Dr Noel Gately, APT Technology Gateway Manager, explained.
“Our fully trained staff have decades of experience in R&D for the polymer industry and are there to help companies promote their research agendas. On top of that, this positions Athlone Institute of Technology to help upskill companies whether that be through short term training courses, master’s degrees or PhD level where they feel there is a need or a gap in their knowledge.”
COMAND, which is located in Athlone Institute of Technology’s Software Research Institute and works as an open access point for industry and a portal to develop and deliver engineering in the connected media space, will receive €164,751 in capital funding to facilitate the purchase of a distributed machine learning and analytics tool.
Welcoming the news, Anthony Cunningham, COMAND Technology Gateway Manager, said: “This specialist equipment will enable our industry partners to develop and verify artificial intelligence and data analytics solutions across the edge and cloud.”
Athlone Institute of Techology is one of ten higher education institutes to have secured capital funding under the €6 million Technology Gateway Network fund which aims to increase the levels of interactions between the technological higher education sector and industry.
The goal of the programme is to encourage more companies engaging in R&D, pilot manufacturing capability for new product/process development, enhanced technology validation and testing capabilities, test bed generation and enhanced training potential for key industry staff on emerging technologies.
Announcing the funding, Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys TD said: “Our aim is to build on our strong enterprise ecosystem from across the wide spectrum of academia, research and business communities. This fund directly supports projects that are emerging from the ground up.
“The successful applicants announced today are housing research projects and initiatives that are at the cutting edge of innovation and I am confident that they have the potential to make a real and lasting impact on enterprise development at both a regional and national level.”
The awardees of the Enterprise Ireland capital funding were selected through a rigorous evaluation process based on eligibility criteria for the call which included, but was not limited to, a strong track record of industry engagement, a significant industrial need for the new equipment, and space to service and maintain the equipment according to international standards.