In September 2017 a €8.7m project was launched by Catalyst Inc. The North West Centre for Advanced Manufacturing (NW CAM) was awarded by the EU under INTERREG VA 1.1 for research and innovation, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB) to support the establishment of this virtual cluster which brings together industry and academia on leading edge research projects.
Catalyst Inc are the lead partner in a collaboration with four research partners: Ulster University; University of Glasgow; Institute of Technology Sligo and Letterkenny Institute of Technology, working alongside eight industry partners to deliver 15 innovative research projects.
The 15 individual R&I projects are classified under one of four Advanced Manufacturing Thematic Areas: Nano-manufacturing; Additive Manufacturing; Advanced Polymer Products; and Sustainable Manufacturing.
The project aims to support the development of a more prosperous economy by increasing the commercialisation of new products and processes within the Health and Life Sciences sector. This innovation will be achieved by increasing the level of cross border collaboration, increasing the number of regional Health and Life Sciences companies engaged in research to develop new products and processes and to increase the awareness of the potential of Advanced Manufacturing as an enabling technology.
The EU INTERREG funding ends in December 2021 but the sustainability of the project and continuation of innovative activity is a key success factor to the delivery of the project.
Catalyst Inc’s vision is for Northern Ireland to be one of the most entrepreneurial Knowledge Economies in Europe by 2030 and the NW CAM project will act as a catalyst to help create a more entrepreneurial culture in Northern Ireland by facilitating collaboration amongst Academia, Government and industry.
As outlined in the annual Knowledge Economy report commissioned by Catalyst Inc, the number of PhD’s completed in Northern Ireland were in decline in 2016. The NW CAM project offers the opportunity to increase the level of PhD completion and to maximise the economic benefit of this learning, development and innovative activity through the delivery of the work packages and sharing of the knowledge across the Health and Life Sciences sector.
NW CAM through the Catalyst Inc campuses, offers the ideal physical infrastructure for start-ups, scaling-up, global corporations and research institutes and to house innovators that may spin off from the EU project funding.
Catalyst Inc is also home to a range of successful programmes that will support early innovators with business success approached from every angle, offering a variety of starting points and pathways. Examples of the programmes include Springboard (an intensive, in-business process that challenges, supports and expedites robust go-to-market strategies) and Co-Founders (offering the opportunity to meet a co-founder, create a great product and embark on an exciting startup journey). Each programme leverages the collective knowledge of a unique network of experienced entrepreneurs and business leaders in an open, nurturing environment.
Industry has voiced a need for research and development to address business demand in terms of product and process improvement. The outcomes of the NWCAM research will be published and commercialised through the research partners so the entire market can be stimulated by the project outputs.
One such example is a collaboration between Nuprint Technologies (Derry~Londonderry) and the James Watt Nanofabrication Centre (Glasgow University) that will focus on Painted Conductive Ink Technology. This involves printing electronic circuitry on flexible labels to provide interactive labelling - this technology will be especially useful in a hospital environment. Patient wrist labels could contain information on medication that can be checked to ensure the correct medicine is being prescribed and taken by the patient. Another possible application is within the food sector where sensors could be incorporated into packaging to ensure food has been kept at the right temperatures during transportation.
"This has the potential to transform the scope of conductive labelling and ensure that NuPrint Technologies are in the vanguard in this technical development and application to create more innovative products and solutions"Gavin Killeen, Managing Director of NuPrint Technologies
If you would like any further information on NWCAM, please contact Chris McAfee, NW CAM Project Administrator on firstname.lastname@example.org
The views expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of the EU or the SEUPB