UL hosts €25million Dairy Processing Technology Centre

The University of Limerick has been announced as the host for the new Dairy Processing Technology Centre (DPTC) as the Irish dairy processing sector continues to ramp up its preparations for the end of milk quotas. The DPTC is a collaboration of 8 companies and 9 Research Performing Organisations (RPO’s) creating 52 new jobs for highly-skilled researchers over the 5 year term of the centre. The €25 million investment by Government and industry will position Ireland as a  world leader in dairy innovation, and help to maximise the long term growth opportunities created by anticipated increase  of 50% in the Irish milk pool by 2020.

The DPTC was announced as part of an overall €35 million investment in the dairy sector made by Richard Bruton T.D. Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation and Simon Coveney T.D. Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine. The announcement was made at Arrabawn Co-Op in Co. Tipperary and includes a €10 million investment by Teagasc in their Moorepark Technology Ltd pilot plant facility, Co. Cork.

Dr Mary Shire, Vice President Research, University of Limerick said: “the DPTC is a collaboration which brings together a spectrum of companies working collaboratively with academics drawn from a wide variety of disciplines. The challenges faced by the Dairy industry require an interdisciplinary approach if they are to be solved. The University of Limerick has experience of successfully leading multi partner interdisciplinary research centres and is delighted to be hosting the DPTC”.

Launching the Dairy Processing Technology Centre Minister Bruton said: “The food sector is a key area that we have targeted as part of our Action Plan for Jobs. This is a sector which offers massive potential for regional employment, which is a major focus of our 2015 plan, and clearly the removal of milk quotas offers huge opportunities that we must exploit in a planned and strategic way in order to support jobs growth. That is why Minister Coveney and I have decided, through our agencies Enterprise Ireland and Teagasc, to make this significant investment in innovation in the dairy industry. This market focused technology centre supported by my Department will bring industry, the education system and Government together to develop commercial new technologies which will support the growth of the dairy industry here in the coming years. In this way, we can crucially create more jobs across the regions, and ultimately improve communities’ right across the country”.

The recently appointed CEO of the DPTC, Padraig McPhillips explained that the DPTC is a collaborative model in which the best research talent in Ireland relevant to industry needs is brought together with the dairy sector to solve strategic research and innovation needs articulated by the sector. “The two key outputs of the DPTC will be knowledge and people - both will be absorbed by the industry and used to deliver more efficient processes and better products and ingredients. The DPTC is like adding a new software engine to the dairy sector”, said McPhillips.

Enterprise Ireland funded the DPTC according to Dr. Keith O’Neill, Director of Lifesciences and Food Commercialisation, Enterprise Ireland because “with the anticipated increase of 50% to 2020 in the Irish milk pool, dairy processors need to be supported to deal with the challenges presented including technological capabilities and human resources capacities to develop a product mix that can increase dairy exports while maximising the efficiencies of processing operations. Enterprise Ireland’s focus is on increasing exports to create economic growth and the dairy sector, having been underinvested in recent years, will use the knowledge, technologies and skills developed through the DPTC to take on competitors worldwide in the coming years. The future is very bright for the Irish dairy industry” concluded Dr. O’Neill.

Welcoming the launch of the DPTC, Dan MacSweeney, Chief Executive of Carbery Group and Chairman of the Irish Dairy Industries Association said “The Dairy Processing Technology Centre will be a critical agent in realising the opportunity presented by the abolition of the milk quotas by providing a dedicated public-private partnership investment in a world class dairy processing research and capability centre. The Irish dairy industry recognises the importance of investing in sophisticated, collaborative research and innovation and this is reflected by the involvement of 8 of our primary processors. Cumulatively, the companies who are partners in the DPTC process 85% of Ireland’s milk pool, produce €2.35 billion of Ireland’s annual dairy exports and provide over 25,000 direct and indirect jobs. It is also reflected in the significant industry contribution of €9 million to the total cost of the initiative – we are serious about making this technology centre work for the Irish dairy industry.  We also welcome the complimentary investment in MTL, almost €4million of which is being provided by industry” said Mr. MacSweeney.

The Dairy Processing Technology Centre consortium includes 8 companies:  Arrabawn Co-op, Aurivo, Carbery, Dairygold, Glanbia, Kerry, Lakeland Dairies and Tipperary Co-Op and 9 Research Performing Organisations: University of Limerick (Host), Teagasc, UCC, UCD, TCBB at NUIG, DCU, TCD, DIT, & ITT Dublin.