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600kN Universal Tensile Tester unveiled at PEM Technology Gateway

PEM Technology Gateway has recently commissioned an up to 600kN Universal Tensile Tester following a successful capital call submission to Enterprise Ireland. The installation of this capability was driven by the very limited commercial testing available in Ireland in the 400-600kN range and industry’s need to have easier access to such equipment.

The high-capacity universal tensile testing machine can perform tensile and compression testing, as well as shear, flexure, peel, tear, cyclic and bend tests. The addition of this equipment provides a unique service to Ireland’s industry in areas such as:

  • Construction equipment and machinery
  • Heavy equipment and machinery
  • Agricultural equipment and machinery
  • Marine engineering
  • Fishing
  • Automotive
  • Aerospace
  • Toolmaking

Dr Russell Macpherson, PEM Technology Gateway Manager highlighted the importance of this equipment to industry in the North-West and nationwide saying “we actively encourage businesses to use our specialised equipment and the addition of this state-of-the-art instrument enhances what we offer. We can help with one-off test pieces and for prototyping purposes, but we’re not limited to that, we are always looking for new ways to help businesses. Just give us a call.”

PEM can also help with technical, engineering and manufacturing questions and issues. For example:

  • Develop an initial design concept by taking your idea and bringing it to life using visuals such as CAD models and working drawings, or even a physical 3D print of the product
  • Advising and supporting with design for manufacture (DFM) considerations to help you get to the manufacturing phase of your product development which will save you time and money
  • Executing the physical machining or fabrication of your product resulting in either a prototype or the finished article
  • Improving or optimising existing products, utilising our onsite testing and simulation capabilities

Crucially, PEM are also available to assist companies navigate the various funding agencies and models that may be available to help fund any work they undertake for businesses.

Should you have any questions about testing capabilities or if you would like any further information contact the team at PEM.

Physical activity for good health and wellbeing

Physical activity and exercise are great ways to keep your body healthy, reduce your risk of disease and improve mood.  Physical activity refers to any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that requires your body to burn calories (expend energy)[1] such as shopping, gardening and doing housework.  Exercise is planned, structured, repetitive and intentional movement[2] such as going for a walk, participating in sport or going to the gym.

Benefits of physical activity

Research shows that regular physical activity and exercise provides a range of physical and mental health benefits[3] such as:

  • Reduces the risk of hypertension[4], coronary heart disease[5] and stroke[6]
  • Lowers the risk of diabetes[7, 8]
  • Lowers risk of dementia[9]
  • Reduces the risk of various types of cancer[10-12] (including breast cancer[13, 14] and colon cancer[15])
  • Reduces symptoms of depression and anxiety[16]
  • Improves muscular and cardiorespiratory fitness[17, 18]
  • Improves bone and functional health[19]
  • Reduces the risk of falls as well as hip or vertebral fractures[20]
  • Improves cognitive function[21]
  • Helps to maintain a healthy body weight[7]

Physical activity recommendations

For good physical and mental health, the World Health Organization recommends adults (aged 18 to 64 years) aim to be physically active for 30 minutes on 5 days per week or accumulate 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity such as a brisk walk, digging the garden or water aerobics; or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity such as running; or a combination of moderate, vigorous and very vigorous (e.g. climbing, sprinting) throughout the week[1].  Any activity is better than none, however for additional health benefits aerobic activity should be increased to 60 minutes of moderate intensity activity, 5 days per week.  Moderate intensity exercise increases breathing and heart rate while still being able to carry out a conversation while vigorous intensity activity results in breathing heavily, faster heart rate, sweating, heightened concentration, and difficultly holding a conversation.  Muscle strengthening activities such as gardening, hill walking or carrying shopping should be done at least two days a week to develop or maintain strength in the major muscle groups. Find more information on physical activity recommendations for different groups here.

The national physical activity plan for Ireland recommends that people aged 65 years and older include varied multicomponent physical activity that emphasizes functional balance and strength training at moderate or greater intensity, on 3 or more days a week, to enhance functional capacity and to prevent falls. Check out Sport Irelands older adult exercise plan here.

In addition to reducing the risk of disease, managing existing conditions, and developing and maintaining physical and mental function being active contributes to wider benefits of social health throughout the life cycle. Worldwide, around 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men do not do enough physical activity to stay healthy[1].  Finding time to exercise can be challenging, the good news is that even exercising for an average of 15 minutes per day reduces risk of all-cause mortality and increases life expectancy by 3 years[22].  Don’t worry about setting small goals at first, simply going for a walk can help lower blood pressure, decrease fat circulating in blood stream, improve your blood vessels and have a positive impact on mood.  Reduce sedentary time by taking regular breaks from sitting and find activities, locations and times that you enjoy being active.  Check out your Local Sports Partnership to discover the many initiatives to increase physical activity within your local community here.

This article was first published on the MET Medicinal Nutrition & Sport Technologies blog.

Visit the MET Technology Gateway website for more information.

Author: Ciara Cooney, MET Technology Gateway

References

  1. Organization, W.H. Physical activity. 2020 26 November 2020 [cited 2021 06 December]; Available from: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/physical-activity.
  2. Caspersen, C.J., K.E. Powell, and G.M. Christenson, Physical activity, exercise, and physical fitness: definitions and distinctions for health-related research. Public health reports (Washington, D.C. : 1974), 1985. 100(2): p. 126-131.
  3. Warburton, D.E. and S.S. Bredin, Health benefits of physical activity: a systematic review of current systematic reviews. Current opinion in cardiology, 2017. 32(5): p. 541-556.
  4. Diaz, K.M. and D. Shimbo, Physical Activity and the Prevention of Hypertension. Current Hypertension Reports, 2013. 15(6): p. 659-668.
  5. Cleven, L., et al., The association between physical activity with incident obesity, coronary heart disease, diabetes and hypertension in adults: a systematic review of longitudinal studies published after 2012. BMC public health, 2020. 20: p. 1-15.
  6. Hung, S.H., et al., Pre-stroke physical activity and admission stroke severity: A systematic review. International Journal of Stroke, 2021: p. 1747493021995271.
  7. Swift, D.L., et al., The Role of Exercise and Physical Activity in Weight Loss and Maintenance. Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases, 2014. 56(4): p. 441-447.
  8. Wake, A.D., Antidiabetic Effects of Physical Activity: How It Helps to Control Type 2 Diabetes. Diabetes, metabolic syndrome and obesity : targets and therapy, 2020. 13: p. 2909-2923.
  9. Lee, J., The relationship between physical activity and dementia: a systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. Journal of gerontological nursing, 2018. 44(10): p. 22-29.
  10. McTiernan, A., et al., Physical Activity in Cancer Prevention and Survival: A Systematic Review. Med Sci Sports Exerc, 2019. 51(6): p. 1252-1261.
  11. Rezende, L.F.M., et al., Physical activity and cancer: an umbrella review of the literature including 22 major anatomical sites and 770 000 cancer cases. Br J Sports Med, 2018. 52(13): p. 826-833.
  12. Patel, A.V., et al., American College of Sports Medicine Roundtable Report on Physical Activity, Sedentary Behavior, and Cancer Prevention and Control. Med Sci Sports Exerc, 2019. 51(11): p. 2391-2402.
  13. Pizot, C., et al., Physical activity, hormone replacement therapy and breast cancer risk: A meta-analysis of prospective studies. Eur J Cancer, 2016. 52: p. 138-54.
  14. Hardefeldt, P.J., et al., Physical Activity and Weight Loss Reduce the Risk of Breast Cancer: A Meta-analysis of 139 Prospective and Retrospective Studies. Clin Breast Cancer, 2018. 18(4): p. e601-e612.
  15. Liu, L., et al., Leisure time physical activity and cancer risk: evaluation of the WHO’s recommendation based on 126 high-quality epidemiological studies. Br J Sports Med, 2016. 50(6): p. 372-8.
  16. Stubbs, B., et al., EPA guidance on physical activity as a treatment for severe mental illness: a meta-review of the evidence and Position Statement from the European Psychiatric Association (EPA), supported by the International Organization of Physical Therapists in Mental Health (IOPTMH). Eur Psychiatry, 2018. 54: p. 124-144.
  17. Myers, J., et al., The impact of moving more, physical activity, and cardiorespiratory fitness: Why we should strive to measure and improve fitness. Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases, 2021. 64: p. 77-82.
  18. Mehta, A., et al., Running away from cardiovascular disease at the right speed: The impact of aerobic physical activity and cardiorespiratory fitness on cardiovascular disease risk and associated subclinical phenotypes. Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases, 2020. 63(6): p. 762-774.
  19. Faienza, M.F., et al., How Physical Activity across the Lifespan Can Reduce the Impact of Bone Ageing: A Literature Review. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 2020. 17(6): p. 1862.
  20. Cauley, J.A. and L. Giangregorio, Physical activity and skeletal health in adults. The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, 2020. 8(2): p. 150-162.
  21. Biazus-Sehn, L.F., et al., Effects of physical exercise on cognitive function of older adults with mild cognitive impairment: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics, 2020. 89: p. 104048.
  22. Wen, C.P., et al., Minimum amount of physical activity for reduced mortality and extended life expectancy: a prospective cohort study. Lancet, 2011. 378(9798): p. 1244-53.

 

Food Waste

Food production is a resource intensive process. Conventional agriculture requires large land areas and significant volumes of water; two resources that are already at risk. Exploiting land leads to soil degradation and water pollution, while an increase in overfishing has put several species at risk. It is estimated that one third of global food produced is lost or wasted somewhere along the food supply chain. While many people would be familiar with food waste at the retailer or consumer end, a significant amount of waste can also happen at the start of the food chain – with the primary producer.

For this reason, Dr Jennifer Attard and Dr Tracey O’Connor, from the CircBio Research Group (Shannon ABC, MTU Kerry) have, in collaboration with UCD, quantified food loss and waste from all of primary production in Ireland. This data has been used to help understand where these food losses occur, in the agriculture, fishing and aquaculture sectors. This work was part of the EPA-funded project, Efficient Food. The team found that significant food loss was especially common in the horticulture sector. The reasons for this were quite varied but can be boiled down to two major issues – environmental pressures and supply chain pressures.

Environmental pressures can impact waste through the production of food that came to be inedible due to pests and diseases or severe weather conditions that destroy the produce. The latter can sometimes occur when there is not enough time or enough workers available to harvest the produce before a storm arrived. These issues are inherent to farming and therefore cannot be completely avoided. However, the issues can be somewhat mitigated by more holistic farming methods that might naturally control pests and diseases (to some extent), or by having smaller farms that are more manageable.

Supply chain pressures can also provide for significant impact in the production of food waste in horticulture. Supermarkets have the ability to control what size or shape the produce must be to be deemed saleable, leading to significant wastage of over/under specification produce that is perfectly edible. Prices can also be decided by supermarkets,  which sometimes means that they can put certain produce, such as broccoli, on offer, resulting in other similar produce, such as cauliflower not being sold as much. If cauliflower is not selling, they may cancel their orders from farmers, leaving them with large amounts of edible produce and no market for it.

When unsold produce is edible, there is still the possibility to make sure that it ends up on someone’s plate. The CircBio Research Group has therefore teamed up with FoodCloud to pilot and investigate an idea where farmers’ costs are covered, allowing them to donate this food to FoodCloud, who will then redistribute it to those suffering from food poverty across Ireland. This 10month project is funded by The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

The CircBio team is also looking at solutions that can address the redistribution of power in the food supply chain. The Horizon 2020 funded agroBRIDGES project is a 3year European project looking to empower farmers by supporting Short Food Supply Chains (SFSCs). SFSCs are those where there is as a maximum of one intermediary between the food producer and the food consumer, or where there is a short geographical distance between where the food is produced and where it is consumed.

Examples of SFSCs include farmers markets, farm shops, vegetable box schemes and community supported agriculture. Increasing the number of SFSCs in Ireland requires a strong educational drive for all of producers, consumers, retailers and policy makers, as well as skills training for producers in marketing and other digital skills. It will lead to more communication between producers and consumers as the two come facetoface at the point of sale. This will naturally lead to further learning for consumers about sustainable food production directly from the producer; the producers will also learn about marketing, pricing and consumers’ needs, through their own experience with direct sales to consumers.

Whether through a shortterm, relatively quick to implement solution such as surplus food donations, or a longterm, total value chain approach such as shortening food supply chains, or a combination of these and other approaches, change is definitely on the way. Food waste is not only an environmental issue, but also a social and public health issue. It has been encouraging to see a significant increase in funding in this area, and it is expected that the resulting data will lead to effective food waste prevention policies in Ireland.

Author: Dr Jennifer Attard

This article was first published on the Shannon ABC website.

Nutrition for Healthy Ageing

Summary

  • Good nutrition and a healthful diet are particularly important for maintaining health as we age
  • Consume a moderate amount (20 – 30g) of high-quality protein with each meal to help make new cells, keep your muscles healthy, support mood and cognitive function
  • Keep your bones healthy by having 3 servings of calcium-rich food such as milk, yoghurt, or cheese each day
  • Daily sunlight exposure or a 15µg vitamin D supplement each day
  • High fish and omega-3 fatty acid intake is linked with improved cognitive health in older age
  • Improved B vitamin status is associated with better health outcomes in older adults

Introduction

Globally people are living longer lives, with the world population aged over 60 years expected to increase to 1.4 billion by 2030 [1].  In Ireland (ROI) it is projected that there will be 1.6 million people aged 65 years and over by 2051 [2].  Women live longer than men with life expectancy at birth 84.5 years compared to 80.8 years for men [3].  At the biological level, ageing results from the gradual accumulation of a wide variety of molecular and cellular damage throughout the life-course and is associated with an increased risk of age-related disorders [4]. Nutritional needs change throughout the life cycle and certain nutrients become especially important for good health as we age.

Diet evolves over time and is impacted by social, economic and environmental factors such as income, affordability and availability of food, personal preferences, beliefs, cultural traditions, geographical environment and climate change.  Older adults can improve their diets to help slow the progression of diseases of ageing.  A healthful diet contains adequate energy, protein, vitamins and minerals, obtained from a variety of foods.  Energy requirements (calorie needs) decrease with age as a consequence of decreased energy expenditure for physical activity and age-related decline in resting metabolic rate (the number of calories required to keep your body functioning at rest) [5]. While fewer calories are needed as we age nutrient needs remain high.  The Food Pyramid can help guide you in planning your meals to achieve a healthy, balanced diet.

Protein

Why protein is important

After the age of 30 years, adults lose 3–8% of their muscle mass per decade. As we grow older, the preservation of muscle is particularly important to prevent sarcopenia, which is the loss of muscles mass, strength and function [6]. Dietary protein (found in foods like milk, yogurt, fish, eggs, meat, poultry, beans, nuts) helps to make new cells, keep your muscles healthy and supports mood and cognitive function.  Furthermore maintaining muscle mass and strength helps to maintain functional capacity, mobility and thus quality of life.

How much protein do you need?

Protein intake greater than the currently recommended daily allowance (RDA) is suggested to improve physical functioning and well-being in older adults [7]. Healthy older adults require 1.0 – 1.2 grams (g) of protein per kilogram (kg) of body mass (bm) per day [7, 8]. For a 70 kg person that equates to 70 – 84g of protein per day. Intake should be spread equally throughout the day for optimal protein synthesis (the process in which cells make proteins) [9].  For older adults with acute or chronic illness 1.2 – 1.5 g/kg/bm per day is recommended [8].  A protein intake of 2.0 g/kg/bm per day or higher may be required for adults with serious illness, injury or marked malnutrition [8].

How to include more protein in your diet

Our bodies work best when we distribute our protein intake evenly throughout the day. For most older adults this means consuming a moderate amount (20 – 30g) of high-quality dietary protein with each meal (example below).  Dietary protein can be found in foods like milk, yogurt, fish, eggs, meat, poultry, beans and nuts.

Calcium and vitamin D

Why Calcium and vitamin D are important

Calcium and vitamin D help to maintain bone health. Almost every cell in the body uses calcium in some way, including the nervous system, muscles, and heart.  While age-related bone loss is a natural process, it can result in fragile bones which are at an increased risk of fracture and osteoporosis.

How much calcium and vitamin D do you need?

The European Food Safety Authority recommended calcium average requirement for older adults is 750mg/day [10]. One in eight Irish adults over 50 years of age are deficient in vitamin D, increasing to one in four during the winter months [11].  The dietary vitamin D requirement to maintain serum 25(OH) D ≥30nmol/L during winter in healthy older adults in Ireland living independently is 15µg per day, for housebound older adults with limited or no sunlight exposure this increases to 20µg per day [12].  Although adequate levels can be generated in the body by the action of sunlight on the skin without any dietary intake, most people in northern latitudes do not receive enough sunlight exposure to achieve this and a daily 15µg vitamin D supplement is now recommended by the Department of Health for all older adults in Ireland [12]. Most supplemental calcium products also usually contain vitamin D.

How to include more calcium and vitamin D in your diet

Keep your bones healthy by having 3 servings of calcium-rich food such as milk, yoghurt, or cheese each day.  It is estimated that the average intake in those who avoid dairy products is about 250mg daily [13]. Calcium is also available from fish and plant sources such as wholegrain cereals, pulses, nuts, seeds and dark-green leaves.  Fortified foods (most often milk and breakfast cereals) are another good source of vitamin D.

n–3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), B vitamins

Why polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) and B vitamins are important

High fish and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) intake are linked with improved cognitive health in older age, with a 10-30% reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease and death, brain atrophy, and cognitive decline [14]. A low status of B vitamins (i.e. vitamin B12, vitamin B6 and riboflavin) in older adults is associated with a higher risk of diseases of ageing (including CVD, cognitive dysfunction, osteoporosis, atrophic gastritis and/or use of proton pump inhibitor (PPI) drugs) [15].

How much polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) and B vitamins do you need?

Older adults should be encouraged to increase their dietary intake of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), and in particular, the long chain n-3 PUFAs EPA and DHA, in order to achieve benefits to immune function and the amelioration of chronic inflammatory diseases [12]. Eating fish (including one portion of oily fish per week) as part of a balanced diet can help protect against heart disease and other inflammatory-related conditions.

How to include more PUFA and B vitamins in your diet

Oily fish, which includes salmon, mackerel, trout, herring, fresh tuna, and sardines are good dietary sources of the long chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), namely, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and DHA [14]. Plant oils, such as flaxseed (linseed), soybean, and canola oils contain alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Chia seeds and walnuts also contain ALA. Fish is also a source of multiple nutrients needed by the brain, including vitamin B12, selenium, and vitamin D, which may contribute to cognitive benefits [14]. Fortified foods are a good source of B vitamins (B12, folate, B6 and riboflavin) and vitamin D.

This article was first published on the MET Medicinal Nutrition & Sport Technologies blog.

Visit the MET Technology Gateway website for more information.

Author: Ciara Cooney, MET Technology Gateway

References

  1. United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, P.D., World Population Ageing 2020 Highlights: Living arrangements of older persons. 2020.
  2. Central Statistics Office, Population and Labour Force Projections 2017 – 2051. 2021.
  3. Eurostat. Projected life expectancy by age (in completed years), sex and type of projection. 2021  [cited 2021 7 October]; Available from: https://appsso.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/nui/submitViewTableAction.do.
  4. World Health Organization. Ageing and Health. Ageing Explained 2021  [cited 2021 6 October]; Available from: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/ageing-and-health.
  5. Rezuş, E., et al., Inactivity and Skeletal Muscle Metabolism: A Vicious Cycle in Old Age. International journal of molecular sciences, 2020. 21(2): p. 592.
  6. English, K.L. and D. Paddon-Jones, Protecting muscle mass and function in older adults during bed rest. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care, 2010. 13(1): p. 34-9.
  7. Grasso, A.C., et al., Protein for a Healthy Future: How to Increase Protein Intake in an Environmentally Sustainable Way in Older Adults in the Netherlands. The Journal of Nutrition, 2020. 151(1): p. 109-119.
  8. Deutz, N.E.P., et al., Protein intake and exercise for optimal muscle function with aging: Recommendations from the ESPEN Expert Group. Clinical Nutrition, 2014. 33(6): p. 929-936.
  9. Moore, D.R., et al., Protein Ingestion to Stimulate Myofibrillar Protein Synthesis Requires Greater Relative Protein Intakes in Healthy Older Versus Younger Men. The Journals of Gerontology: Series A, 2014. 70(1): p. 57-62.
  10. EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products Nutrition and Allergies (NDA), Scientific Opinion on Dietary Reference Values for calcium. EFSA Journal, 2015. 13(4101).
  11. Laird, E., et al., The Prevalence of Vitamin D Deficiency and the Determinants of 25(OH)D Concentration in Older Irish Adults: Data From The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA). The Journals of Gerontology: Series A, 2017. 73(4): p. 519-525.
  12. Report of the Scientific Committee of the Food Safety Authority of Ireland, Scientific recommendations for food-based dietary guidelines for older adults in Ireland. 2021: Dublin.
  13. Cosman, F., et al., Clinician’s guide to prevention and treatment of osteoporosis. Osteoporosis international, 2014. 25(10): p. 2359-2381.
  14. Jennings, A., S.C. Cunnane, and A.M. Minihane, Can nutrition support healthy cognitive ageing and reduce dementia risk? BMJ, 2020. 369: p. m2269.
  15. Porter, K., et al., Causes, Consequences and Public Health Implications of Low B-Vitamin Status in Ageing. Nutrients, 2016. 8(11): p. 725.
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CAPPA Receives €140,000 worth of Funding for New Equipment

The Centre for Advanced Photonics and Process Analysis (CAPPA) is delighted to announce the centre has received over €140,000 worth of funding for new equipment through the Enterprise Ireland Capital Equipment Fund. The Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar TD, announced the 32 successful applicants of the Capital Equipment Fund administered by Enterprise Ireland through the Technology Gateway and Technology Centre Capital. CAPPA will purchase a scientific grade InfraRed (IR) thermography camera. The purpose of this fund is to increase interaction between the Technology Gateways and Technology Centres with industry in Ireland. The Capital Equipment Fund will enable more companies to engage in research and development and enhance the service offering to industry for each of the centres.

CAPPA received this funding under the second stream of the capital equipment call, which focuses on new and emerging technologies that are of interest to industry. The successful applications were selected by a rigorous evaluation process based on the eligibility criteria for the call, which included a strong track record of industry engagement and all applications, were reviewed by a panel that included external independent experts.

CAPPA acquired equipment funding for a scientific grade InfraRed (IR) thermography camera. The camera is capable of capturing images of the temperature of object surfaces from afar, creating what are known as thermogram images. The camera will have a resolution of below 0.02 °C and will measure temperatures between – 30 °C to 1500 °C. Sample industries which regularly employ thermal cameras for non-destructive diagnostics are; Electronic/Electrical (e.g. imaging hotspots in integrated circuits), Chemical (e.g. imaging heat flow in reactions), Plastics (e.g. imaging injection moulding), Automotive (e.g. assessing joints and welds), Energy (e.g. testing solar cells), Steel (e.g. steel and slag monitoring), safety (e.g. early fire detection) and Health (e.g. body temperature anomalies).

CAPPA plan to create more applications for the camera, by pairing it with MIR laser and LED sources, creating MIR chemical sensors. The strong interaction of MIR light with molecules has resulted in the MIR to be known as the molecular fingerprint region, as slight changes in molecular structure can result in significant changes in the fingerprint, and subsequently, the region is a powerful tool for determining the chemical composition of samples. The MIR is a fast-evolving market, with light sources covering far more of the IR, with decreasing cost, coming available habitually. While the evolution in the sensing market has mainly been in gas sensing, we believe the same evolution is expected in the chemical imaging sector. CAPPA will provide MIR chemical imaging capabilities, not yet available in the commercial market, to Irish industry, shaping companies for the near future chemical imagining systems.

This new piece of equipment will extend the existing service offering at CAPPA. The new equipment will enable CAPPA to increase its engagement with companies in the pharmaceutical, medical device, photonics, and food and beverage sectors and will provide a modernized offering to their current industry partners. It will also allow for the development and execution of fundamental research on which future applied and industrially led projects will be built.

This was the second Capital Equipment Call awarded in 2021. The previous call, the outcome of which was announced in July 2021, focused on equipment that has a well-establishing industrial need and is commonly used for specific applications. CAPPA received funding for a benchtop UV Raman and a benchtop nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectrometer in the previous call. You can learn more about previous capital equipment calls here and more about the research and facilities available at CAPPA here.

This article was first published on the CAPPA website.

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MET Gateway offers free online €5K Innovation Voucher consultations

Have an idea for a new product or service? Need support to develop it? The Medical and Engineering Technology Gateway (MET), based in Galway Mayo Institute of Technology, are here to advise and support you in developing your idea.

On Wednesday 24th and Thursday 25th November, MET Technology Gateway are offering FREE online one-to-one consultations on the Enterprise Ireland €5k Innovation Voucher. The consultation will take you through the process from start to finish.

Who should attend?

If you are an entrepreneur or company with an innovative idea, product or process that requires assistance with making it market ready, this 1-to-1 consultation will greatly assist you in this process. The team at the Medical and Engineering Technology Gateway, Galway are here to advise and support you in developing your idea. MET Gateway are part of a nationwide network of technology gateways, each with their own set of expertise and can help you find the right partner to support your needs.

MET Technology Gateway

Located in Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology’s Galway campus, the Enterprise Ireland Medical and Engineering Technologies (MET) Gateway is an interdisciplinary applied research centre, dedicated to supporting Research, Development and Innovation activities in the MedTech, LifeSciences and Engineering sectors across five technology themes:

  • Medical Imaging Technologies that allow for prototype devices to be tested and evaluated under clinically relevant simulated use conditions.
  • Anatomical Modelling and Physiological Replication that translate medical data into engineering data and then into clinically relevant anatomical models with accompanying simulation systems.
  • Data Analytics and Visualisation: MET has expertise in data analytics and the visualisation of clinical data that inform the design of next generation medical device prototypes.
  • Design Engineering and Verification: offering services in prototyping and resign verification technologies such as CAD design; rapid prototyping, technical reviews and materials and product characterisation.
  • Medicinal Nutrition and Sport: with expertise in Nutrition and Sports Science, the research team assist the food industry in all aspects of novel food development including food analysis and testing, human intervention trials, product innovation, development and optimisation.

To learn more about our capabilities and how we can help you, see www.metcentre.ie or contact Sharon White at sharon.white@gmit.ie or 091 742329.

Date: 24th/25th November 2021

Time: 11am – 4pm

Registration

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CREDIT Gateway secures funding to support R&D needs of industry in Mobile – Waste Heat Recovery.

In the latest Enterprise Ireland Capital Call for Equipment, the CREDIT Technology Gateway at DkIT  has secured funding to support the research and development needs of Irish industry in the Mobile – Waste Heat Recovery (M-WHR) sector.

Mobile – Waste Heat Recovery unit

Recovery of the industrial waste heat is a cost-effective and environmentally sustainable approach for energy supply across industry and business. Using the waste heat from industrial processes to heat buildings or create electricity can dramatically reduce the amount of energy consumed by industry generally.

Mobile energy storage systems transported by vehicular means may bridge the gap between heat source and demand site in cases where a pipeline-bound connection cannot be realised cost effectively. For the transportable heat storage unit, phase change materials (PCMs) or sorption materials have shown strong potential due to their high energy storage capacity.

The mobile energy storage vehicle which utilises innovative Phase Change Materials (PCMs) is more flexible in matching the supply and demand and has no geographical or major infrastructural constraints. It also has various form to release the stored energy and can avoid the potential issues caused by the energy inhomogeneity.

M-WHR technology can significantly reduce the initial investment in the distribution network and recovery infrastructure. Also, the distribution becomes more flexible and adaptive to the dynamic needs of clients. The waste heat can be collected from wastewater, waste steam, waste flue gas, and other industrial residuals. The recovered waste heat is usually regarded as clean, sustainable and renewable energy as it does not require additional resources and cause negligible effect on the environment. Therefore, the reuse, recycling, and final disposal cost of the whole life cycle of recovery, storage, transportation, and distribution of industrial waste heat are optimised using M-WHR to achieve the effect of energy conservation and emission reduction from the perspective of supply chain optimisation.

A dedicated location for storage calibration has been identified within the CREDIT Technology Gateway DkIT campus where the proposed M-WHR testbed can be parked while awaiting deployment off site to customer industrial premises. It is envisaged that the storage testbed will spend most of its time on industrial partner sites and so short periods should be spent on campus.

To access this equipment outlined above contact info@creditgateway.ie for more information.

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New Extension to GMIT iHUB and MET Medical Imaging Suite Formally Opened

An Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar visited GMIT Galway on Friday, 5 November 2021 to formally open the new extension to GMIT’s Enterprise Ireland funded Innovation Hub (iHub) and new MET Medical Imaging Suite at the Galway (Dublin Road) campus.

Mr Varadkar was welcomed to the campus by GMIT President Dr Orla Flynn, the Mayor of Galway City Councillor Colette Connolly, and GMIT VP Research & Innovation Dr Rick Officer, together with invited guests from the business community and MedTech industry.

GMIT’s iHub has doubled in size to 2,400 m2, accommodating hi-tech incubation space for eleven dedicated MedTech R&D units; seven incubation units for start-ups in the Software, Digital Tech, Connected Health sectors; a co-working space; an events space; social hubs and breakout meeting and networking areas. It provides a dedicated entrepreneur hub space for GMIT researchers, staff, undergraduate and postgraduate students and industry to work collaboratively on the creation and development of innovative ideas for new products and services that can compete on a global scale. It supports Enterprise Ireland’s New Frontiers programme and the dedicated women’s entrepreneurship EMPOWER programme implemented in collaboration with CUA partners IT Sligo and Letterkenny IT and funded by the European Social Fund as part of the Programme for Employability, Inclusion and Learning.

Inside the building is GMIT’s new Medical Imaging Suite operated by the Enterprise Ireland Medical and Engineering Technology Gateway (MET). Representing a significant investment by Enterprise Ireland, and supported by GMIT, the new Philips Azurion 7 M20 fluoroscope provides state of the art imaging capabilities to industry, research and academic partners. This facility, providing 3D augmented digital fluoroscopy, can be used for device demonstration, evaluation and testing and will also be used to provide training on new technologies and devices for clinicians and staff.

Commenting on the new iHub and Medical Imaging Suite, Minister Leo Varadkar says: “This expansion is a real boost for both current and future entrepreneurs in Galway and the surrounding area. This new space will provide start-ups with the space and network to develop new ideas and collaborate with industry and their peers. I think it’s a really exciting opportunity and I look forward to hearing about the success of companies who originated from here in the future.”

“These last two years have highlighted the importance and value of having such a thriving MedTech sector in Ireland. We want to grow the industry further here and are providing the investment and infrastructure to make it happen. This new Medical Imaging Suite is a state of the art piece of equipment and will be a great resource for researchers and industry alike.”

“I wish GMIT the very best of luck with this expansion and to any entrepreneurs with an idea in the MedTech space, this facility and the expert network around it is here for you. Take a chance on your idea and the Government will back you.”

Dr Rick Officer, GMIT VP Research and Innovation, says: “The official opening of GMIT’s stunning iHub extension and the Medical Imaging Suite is a really proud day for GMIT. It culminates years of hard work by many staff in GMIT, which has been well recognised by Enterprise Ireland’s generous support. These superb new facilities demonstrate GMIT’s ongoing commitment to our institutional mission of education, research, and innovation. The impact of these investments for the people and enterprises we support will be phenomenal.”

Stephen Creaner, Executive Director, Enterprise Ireland, says: “Surrounded by the formidable multinational medical device sector in Galway, the GMIT iHub plays a key role in supporting the increasing number of Irish-owned MedTech companies set up by local MedTech professionals and by third-level researchers funded under the Enterprise Ireland Commercialisation Fund and BioInnovate Programmes.”

George McCourt, Head of Innovation & Enterprise, GMIT, says: “This new extension provides additional expertise & capability for start-ups in the west region to drive regional job creation with a particular focus on export markets. I would like to thank Enterprise Ireland for their iHub extension funding and critical support programmes for our client companies.”

Manager of the Medical Imaging Suite Sharon White says: “MET is an applied research centre, dedicated to supporting Research, Development and Innovation activities in the MedTech, Life Sciences and Engineering sectors. This new facility perfectly complements our existing expertise in medical imaging, anatomical modelling and physiological replication. Additionally, it provides our industry partners with access to facilities not readily available outside of the clinical environment and will serve to drive innovation in the development of new medical devices and technologies.” 

For further information please contact George McCourt at GMIT’s Innovation Hub, email:  george.mccourt@gmit.ie or see www.gmitihubs.ie or Sharon White at the MET Technology Gateway, Sharon.white@gmit.ie or see www.metcentre.ie

At the official opening of the GMIT iHub extension and medical imaging suite on Friday (5 November 2021), L to R: Dr Orla Flynn, President of GMIT, An Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar, Sharon White, Manager Medical Imaging Suite, MET Gateway, GMIT iHub, George McCourt, GMIT Head of Innovation & Enterprise, Stephen Creaner, Executive Director, Enterprise Ireland. [Photo Mike Shaughnessy].
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Quantum Security Testbed & Spectrum Analyser the latest additions at TSSG

In the latest Enterprise Ireland Capital Call for Equipment, the TSSG Technology Gateway at Walton Institute acquired funding to assist with research and development and will provide industry access to two new exciting areas.

One new testbed, a ‘Quantum Security Testbed’ and a Portable RF Spectrum Monitor will be housed at the Walton Institute data centre and will be fully accessible to industry for whatever their need.

Quantum Security Testbed:

Currently, up until now, no Quantum Security Testbed has existed in Ireland. This new Quantum Security testbed will provide a security model in mission critical industries where trust is paramount, particularly in  applications such as those deployed for e-Health, finance, food production and energy.

The ability to download now and decrypt later means that, even if they are only available in several years, quantum computers pose a genuine threat to data security today. This is especially true for the archiving and long-term storage of digital assets, such as Intellectual Property, blockchain/crypto-assets – such as non-fungible tokens (NFTs), financial or medical records; essentially anything that might traditionally be stored in a vault. The Quantum Security Testbed creates an environment where technology solutions providers can develop innovative solutions for their clients.

The Quantum Security Testbed 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. These include:

  • Quantum Random Number Generators (QRNGs),
  • Firewalls with VPN capabilities (encryptors),
  • Hardware Security Modules (HSMs),
  • Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) systems.

The QRNGs lay the first building blocks to providing high quality, truly random entropy to generate encryption keys. The keys (or crypto-assets) will then be stored in HSMs, providing a tamper proof, reliable, and highly secure repository for the keys that end devices will use. The keys will never be stored on the end devices and therefore cannot be lost or leaked through theft or remote access. The encryptors will use the keys stored in the HSMs to create site-to-site VPNs. Lastly, a QKD system when deployed between two sites (data centres) ensures non-refutably secure transmission of keys or other crypto-assets between two locations, for backup or digital asset custody.

The main strength of this testbed lies in the strict separation between the three elements: key and asset generation, asset storage, and access to assets. By combining several cryptosystems (QRNG, HSM, and QKD) with cryptoprotocols (one time pad, secret sharing schemes), it ensures that the safe storage of private keys (the proof of a digital asset’s ownership) is “Information-Theoretically Secure” (ITS), meaning that such a system cannot be hacked by an external adversary even with unlimited computing power.

Many financial institutions and cyber security companies already use ‘Commodity components’ but using QKD’s will allow these companies to add a new quantum security layer to their existing systems. Furthermore the innovation process can be de-risked by bringing quantum communications and algorithms expertise to the testbed users. This will become a new offering by Walton Institute and collaborative linkage with MTU, which will bring Quantum Communications to the Space Cluster / Industry.

We are bound to see more future emerging applications as “Information Theoretically Secure” data services becomes more mainstream with this new equipment, and Ireland can lead the way with research and innovation using QKD’s and an extra layer of quantum-safe security on top of existing bank-grade custody solutions. This will also contribute to push tokenized finance and blockchain technologies forward. The equipment will be used to provide training and upskilling workshops in the areas of quantum communications systems and cybersecurity applications, helping to address the cybersecurity shortage and skills gap previously identified by Cyber Ireland.

Portable RF Spectrum Monitoring Receiver:

The second service offering provided by the Enterprise Capital Equipment is a Portable RF Spectrum Monitoring Receiver:

As is commonly known, wirelesss communications and increasingly with the emergence of more IoT applications, a mixture of licenced and unlicenced spectrums are becoming more and more crowded and subject to noise and interference as more radio links are polluting the networks being sought out.

While there is some protection offered to licenced links, being able to provide the communications Regulator (ComReg) with detailed information on interference to licenced links will reduce the time it takes to resolve interference issues (which could be causing an outage for one or many customers). Being able to find the source of interference to unlicenced links will in most cases help in finding a path towards a resolution, or at the very least identify where the issue is coming from so alternative arrangements can quickly be put in place.

Wireless Internet Service Providers (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. For tech support, symptoms can range from low data throughput, customers being forced to re-login, pixelation of digital video signals, dropped audio on messaging platforms (Teams/Zoom etc.) This creates extra pressure on WISPs as more people are using the networks in new areas outdoors where the demand was not previously required. Also, there is new demand in the Tourism Sector for immersive technology and this adds extra pressure to the networks to provide seamless consistent services, especially in remote areas where 4/5G is not readily available. These new services require high speed, low-latency and no interference. There is also a crucial need to service new housing estates and apartments where Fibre Broadband is not available.

Wireless networks are set up to the nearest access point (Fibre or otherwise) and a monitoring receiver, designed for interference hunting, allows for the provision of internet services to these areas readily and quickly allowing networks to be assigned. By using this equipment, pre-installation, to check a site or a link between sites for interference this will give the WISP assurance at installation time that the link will perform as expected.

Having a portable monitoring receiver on the first site visit decreases the number of times a site needs to be revisited and dealt with by the technical support teams. Without the extra pressure on the customer service side, WISPs can focus more on expanding their networks and cater for new clients. Very often WISPs utilise fibre networks, paying for new fibre connections and creating wireless links to stretch the service to new customers providing there are licenced frequencies available which should be interference free.

In this way WISPs have been instrumental in facilitating the growth of the Fibre Broadband network in Ireland and helping more people to access the Internet.  This is where the portable monitoring receiver is serving this sector, and within the Space industry where the channel width may be anything from 100KHz through to 100-200MHZ. These surveys would be in ITU satellite bands from VHF up to Ka-Band (26.5 – 40Ghz) and possibly Q/V in the future.

To access any of the equipment outlined above contact the TSSGTechGateway@WaltonInstitute.ie for more information.

This article was first published on the Walton Institute website.

Tánaiste announces €6.4m capital investment in equipment for industry research

Funding will support 32 equipment purchases in Technology Gateways and Technology Centres

Brings to more than €12m the amount invested this year in equipment

‘Leading-edge’ technologies included in successful projects in this funding round

The Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar TD, has announced the successful applicants of the 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.

The funding will provide companies with access to both established and leading-edge equipment hosted by the research expertise available in the Technology Gateways and Technology Centres across Ireland.

The awardees 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.

This was the second Capital Equipment Call awarded in 2021. The previous call, the outcome of which was announced in July 2021, 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 that have a future inherent industrial need.

An example of the type of ‘leading-edge’ equipment funded in this call is the Quantum Security Test Bed at the Telecommunications and Software Systems Group (TSSG) Gateway in Waterford Institute of Technology. This platform will prepare companies for the arrival of quantum security technologies and upskill their teams. This testbed will unlock new commercial opportunities for industry in this dynamic sector.

Since 2019 the Capital Equipment Fund administered by Enterprise Ireland has funded 157 equipment purchases with a total value of €27.6million.

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar TD, said:

“This funding invests in some really exciting new technologies, which have the potential to solve some of industry’s, and indeed society’s, biggest challenges. This is the second round of the Scheme this year, we will invest in 61 projects in total over the course of 2021.

“There’s a big focus on sustainability, with research into new, more easily recyclable plastics for example and using biomass for the creation of new products by the brewing industry. We must back industry and our research teams to take chances and try out different things. There are immense challenges ahead, which require new approaches and fresh thinking. The very best of luck to all those who have been successful in this round.”

Gearoid Mooney, Divisional Manager, Research & Innovation at Enterprise Ireland said:

“Research and development is vital to the continued success of Irish enterprise and this funding will make another important contribution to our research infrastructure available through Technology Gateways and Technology Centres. The fund will provide industry with access to established research equipment along with more cutting-edge tools. This capital investment, blended with the expertise available in Gateways and Centres, will ensure that Irish industry can explore and seize opportunities in rapidly evolving sectors, where innovation is key.”

About the Capital Equipment call

Of 46 eligible applications reviewed, 32 have been approved for funding totaling €6.4m. Funding was based on an extensive review process which looked at the number of companies that will benefit and the criticality of the equipment to servicing their R&D needs, how access to the equipment can be shared across the technology gateway and technology centres network and current capability gaps within the collaborative research system that can be alleviated by making this equipment available.

The R&D activities supported by this funding include pilot manufacturing capability for new products and process development, enhanced technology validation and testing capabilities, test bed generation and enhanced training for key industry staff on emerging technologies in collaboration.

Successful applicants

Gateway / Centre / Description

  • PMBRC Waterford IT – Dynamic Vapor Sorption System
  • PMBRC Waterford IT – Sputter Coater
  • PMTC UL – Multimodal Hybrid Raman System
  • MiCRA TU Dublin Tallaght – Automated Diagnostic Strip Unit for Prototyping
  • Shannon ABC MTU Tralee – Bioethanol Suite
  • MiCRA TU Dublin Tallaght – Benchtop Scanning Electron Microscope
  • MiCRA TU Dublin Tallaght – Fourier Transfer InfraRed Spectroscopy Instrumentation Suite
  • Shannon ABC TUS- Limerick – Benchtop Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectrometer
  • MET GMIT – Endovascular Simulator / Pulsatile Replicator & Live Broadcast system
  • DESIGN+ IT Carlow – RSPLAS PR 450 Stereolithography 3D printer
  • IMaR MTU Tralee – Dual Arm Robotic Test Bed
  • COMAND TUS- Athlone – Autonomous Mobile Robots -Test before Invest Lab
  • CeADAR UCD – High Performance Computer extension
  • TSSG Waterford IT – Portable RF Spectrum Monitor
  • COMAND TUS- Athlone – Industry 4.0 Lab
  • DESIGN+ IT Carlow – FEG Scanning Electron Microscope
  • MET GMIT – Bio- fabrication System
  • PMBRC Waterford IT – Inverted Fluorescence Microscope
  • SEAM Waterford IT – Powder Morphology Analysis System
  • Irish Manufacturing Research – Robotic Cell
  • Irish Manufacturing Research – Abrasive Flow Machining Suite
  • Irish Manufacturing Research – Multi robot intralogistics demonstrator
  • CREDIT Dundalk IT – Mobile Thermal Energy Storage Trialling unit
  • TSSG Waterford IT – Quantum Security Test Bed
  • WiSAR Letterkenny IT – Data Ingestion Accelerated Artificial Intelligence Computer
  • CAPPA MTU Cork – InfraRed thermography camera
  • APT TUS- Athlone – Scanning Electron Microscope with Katana Microtome
  • CREST TU Dublin – Surface Energy Characterisation Suite
  • MCCI IT Carlow – Electronic R&D Testbench Suite
  • MCCI Tyndall – High End Vector Signal Generator
  • APT TUS- Athlone – Circular Plastics Suite
  • APT TUS- Athlone -Crystallography suite