Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar TD has announced significant new investment in the University of Limerick hosted Dairy Processing Technology Centre.
The Tánaiste visited the Bernal Institute in UL on Friday where he announced the second phase of funding for research in the Dairy Processing Technology Centre (DPTC).
This next phase will see an additional €14m investment through Enterprise Ireland in new research looking at sustainability and competitiveness in the dairy industry.
The first phase saw the DPTC, founded in 2014, established as a centre of excellence for dairy processing research and innovation.
The Tánaiste said: “With our climate law, Ireland is now one of the most ambitious countries in the world on climate. At the same time, agriculture is one of our largest and most important indigenous industries. We make enough food to feed our population nine times over. That is something we should be proud of and we want it to continue.
“This research is crucial as we move to a low carbon society, to ensure our food industry can thrive, modernise and continue to compete globally,” he added.
The DPTC brings together Teagasc and leading researchers from the university sector to work with Ireland’s largest dairy processors. Backed by Enterprise Ireland, the Centre focuses on driving future growth and sustainability in the Irish dairy processing sector, through advances in processing and sustainable manufacturing.
The €14m investment will see, over the next five years, the DPTC focus on key challenges for the sector, including the production of high-value quality products that are cost-effective and sustainable as set out by international commitments such as the EU 2030 Climate Energy Policy Framework.
“The establishment of the Dairy Processing Technology Centre anticipated the significant market disruption that would occur with the removal of milk quotas in 2015,” said Enterprise Ireland CEO Leo Clancy.
“Anticipating disruption is now an essential part of business planning, and the DPTC was ahead of its time. Since then it has proved how effective collaboration between industry leaders and our research community can be and I am delighted that Enterprise Ireland will provide €14m to back its next phase of research.
“There are now eight Technology Centres operating across Ireland, focused on critical areas such as advanced manufacturing, Artificial Intelligence, microelectronics, pharmaceuticals and food. Companies working with Technology Centres have higher domestic and international sales, more employees and a greater return on their R&D spend.
“The collaborative model deployed by the Technology Centre network will become increasingly important as our entire economy adapts to a low-carbon future and embeds sustainability at every stage of the production process and I would encourage companies to engage now with these engines of innovation,” he added.
Newly appointed Centre Director Dr Anne Marie Henihan said DPTC was “looking forward to delivering on the full potential of this investment and building on the successes and achievements of phase one.
“Over the next five years our industry partners will encounter many opportunities and challenges as they progress their growth ambitions and we will support and facilitate them in their pursuit of innovation and operational efficiencies that are grounded in sustainability.
“Our strength in delivering innovative solutions is based on the great level of co-operation and collaboration among our industry and academic partners. We look forward to broadening and deepening these existing relationships as well as expanding the number of industry partners we serve.
“We will be relentless in our drive to provide world class innovative research that provides game-changing advances for the future of Irish Dairy Processing,” she added.
The Centre also recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with dairy research centre VistaMilk to exploit synergies and collaborative opportunities for the benefit of future dairy research.