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APC receives €50 million research investment

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The Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre has been designated a national centre for food and medicine research excellence.

Mr. Sean Sherlock TD, Minister for Research and Innovation and Mr. Simon Coveney TD, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine have announced Government funding, through the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, of €36 million which will leverage a further investment of €14 million from industry, for research at the APC, Cork.

The APC spans across UCC, Teagasc (Ireland’s Agriculture & Food Development Authority) and Cork Institute of Technology. 109 researchers will be employed at the centre over the next 6 years and that talent pool will enable Ireland to leverage significant other investments, including EU funding streams and additional industry partners in the years ahead.

The exchequer funding is through Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Research Centres programme and supports world-class research into how bacteria in the human gut impacts on population health, leading to the development of future foods and medicines.

Announcing the funding, Minister Sherlock stated: “The importance of continued investment in research cannot be underestimated both in terms of job creation and its overall impact on society. A central part of the Government’s Action Plan for Jobs is to ensure that research is better targeted at turning the good ideas of our top-class researchers into good products and high quality jobs. Through the SFI Research Centres Programme this year we are establishing seven research centres of international scale and excellence. These cutting-edge research centres, which includes the APC here in Cork, will further enhance Ireland’s economic recovery process and be a magnet of attraction for industry.”

Minister Sherlock added “The APC centre has already established itself as one of the premier probiotics research facilities in the world and this funding will ensure that the APC and its talented personnel will lead not just in probiotics but also in pharmabiotics.”

Mr. Simon Coveney TD, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, added: “The agriculture sector is one of Ireland’s largest and most successful industries in Ireland. Food for Health products are expected to have a global value of $176.7 billion in 2013 and Ireland is uniquely positioned to capitalise on this growing sector.”

Minister Coveney added “I am delighted that institutions such as University College Cork, Teagasc, the Irish Agriculture and Food Development Authority, and Cork Institute of Technology are collaborating in ensuring the success of this national centre for food and medicine research. The continued and on-going commitment of private enterprise is also critical for long-term success and I congratulate and applaud companies such as Kerry Group, Wyeth Nutrition, Alimentary Health, Second Genome, Trino Therapeutics and Sigmoid Pharma for investing in the success of the APC.”

The commercial significance of the APC’s research is highlighted by the participation of 12 companies from the national and international food, pharmaceutical, diagnostic and veterinary sectors, which include Kerry, Wyeth Nutrition, Alimentary Health, Second Genome, Trino Therapeutics, Sigmoid Pharma.

Speaking at the announcement, Prof. Mark Ferguson, Director General of SFI said: “The SFI Research Centres Programme is the largest ever state and industry co-funded research investment of its kind in Ireland. The potential to deliver tangible economic benefits through research excellence was critical in the selection of the initial seven centres. The APC is a world leader in the area of probiotics research and we are confident of its continued success. We expect that APC will expand and further leverage this initial investment through successful applications to the EU and by developing additional academic and industry partners in Ireland and internationally.”

Prof. Fergus Shanahan, Director of the APC stated: “Ten years ago we predicted that the microbes within the gut would be a source of new antibiotics, a source of biomarkers for risk of certain diseases, a regulator of immunity and even an influence on the brain and behaviour. We also predicted that this field would become one of the most relevant to human biology and to society. All of this has proven to be correct. ”

Prof. Shanahan continued: “As marvellous as the discovery of the human genetic code has been, the genetic messages contained within our microbes (microbiome) promise even greater advances for human health, veterinary medicine and for both the food and pharmaceutical industries in Ireland. The APC is particularly well suited to explore and exploit the mysteries of the human microbiome and can make this science deliver for our society and for our economy.”

Professor Gerry Boyle, Director of Teagasc, said "as a founding partner, Teagasc is extremely pleased that a new round of funding has been approved for APC. This will help ensure that the scientific knowledge and human capacity already developed will be directed towards increased economic benefit for the Irish food industry, and in this respect Teagasc welcomes the enhanced involvement by industrial partners, including some of our major food companies".

Highlighting the importance of the research carried out by the APC Centre to the future food industry, Stan McCarthy, CEO of Kerry Group, one of the participating companies, said: “The Kerry Group is pleased to be partnering with APC. This research collaboration is consistent with our mission statement, and our emphasis on technology, which is critical for our global business in the long term. This partnership is hugely important as we build our Technology Centre in Naas, Co Kildare both in developing and nurturing high quality researchers to staff that facility and in further enhancing Kerry’s ability to provide technical solutions for our customers around the world.”

21 June 2013



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