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Collaboration between AMBER and Johnson & Johnson Services, Inc. will transform healthcare delivery for patients and consumers through 3D bioprinting

AMBER, the Science Foundation Ireland-funded materials science institute headquartered at Trinity College Dublin, today announced a new strategic collaboration with Johnson & Johnson Services, Inc. to establish a collaborative laboratory focused on 3D bioprinting. Through the collaboration, AMBER and the Johnson & Johnson 3D Printing Center of Excellence will establish a 3D bioprinting research laboratory at Trinity College Dublin affiliated with AMBER. The company will also engage in research projects focused initially in orthopaedics and in the long-term, offer its internal scientific experts as adjunct professors and engage in staff exchanges. The new Global Centre of Excellence for 3D bioprinting will transform healthcare delivery for patients and consumers and is due to be operational by the end of 2018.

The announcement was welcomed by Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys TD who stated, “Because of the fantastic success of the SFI Research Centre, AMBER, Ireland has a worldwide reputation for excellence in 3D bioprinting and is a global leader in materials science. I am delighted to welcome this new collaboration and look forward to its success moving forward.”

“Transforming healthcare delivery for patients and consumers through 3D printing technology requires collaboration with experts from around the world,” said Wim Appelo, Vice President Supply Chain, Johnson & Johnson Medical Devices Companies. “Our work with AMBER will advance opportunities to design and deliver a broad range of personalised, bioprinted healthcare solutions for the patients and consumers we serve every day.”

The focus for the new research laboratory will be 3D bioprinting, co-led by AMBER’s Professor Daniel Kelly and Joseph Ault, Senior Fellow, Lead API and Bioprinting at Johnson & Johnson. The collaborative laboratory will establish a work space for Johnson & Johnson scientists and Trinity academicians to engage in collaborative research. 3D bioprinting has emerged as a promising technology for engineering 3D ‘living’ biological tissues for promoting bone and tissue regeneration.

Professor Michael Morris, AMBER Director said, “This lab is the result of a shared vision to create a global centre of excellence for 3D bioprinting within the Centre. This has been made possible because of the calibre of our world leading academics, state of the art equipment and supporting facilities and infrastructure. Building on our long-standing collaboration with DePuy Synthes in Ireland, I am confident that this engagement will become the prototypical strategic partnership for AMBER as the Centre moves into the next funding cycle. Our intent is to identify and grow similar engagements of equivalent scale and type across the ICT and manufacturing sectors.”

Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland said, “Science Foundation Ireland invests in world-class scientific research with deep and significant enterprise engagement, excellence and impact. I very much welcome this promising collaboration between AMBER and Johnson & Johnson Services, which builds on Ireland’s international reputation for research excellence and presents us with an important opportunity to promote the sharing of knowledge and expertise between industry and academia – in material sciences and beyond.”

The laboratory will be made available to other Principal Investigators, postgraduate and undergraduate students to carry out project work outside of the direct collaborative activity with Professor Kelly. This will benefit students by providing exposure to industry and the potential to source industry-defined projects. In addition, Johnson & Johnson scientists will be available to provide training and education to students and staff.

The AMBER team has identified a 100m2 space within the Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute (TBSI) building, comprising lab area suitable for working with bioprinting and cell and tissue culture and meeting and office space for 12 people. In addition to the new lab, the investment will enable a number of individual research projects and long-term scale-up to include adjunct professorships and staff exchange.

Work on the new laboratory will begin in Q1 2018, with Trinity graduate and AMBER postdoctoral researcher Dr Gráinne Cunniffe employed by Johnson & Johnson as project manager for the lab. AMBER will provide full support to the project in terms of project management, funding diversification support, recruitment and contract support as is standard with the Centre’s operating model.

This collaboration is strongly aligned with AMBER’S vision to be a world leader in bioengineering and Trinity’s vision to establish a new Engineering, Energy and Environment (E3) Institute and a technology campus at Dublin’s Grand Canal to be an incubation site for companies to embed significant research and innovation activities at the University and engage in multi-faculty collaborations.

AMBER, the materials science centre based at Trinity College Dublin, has announced a collaboration with Irish tech company Kastus, which is fighting the battle against superbugs.

The collaboration will involve specialised research work on the further development of antimicrobial coatings, which have already been commercialised by Kastus, the antimicrobial experts.

The research programme, which is valued at €280,000, will see two academic experts in science and engineering join Kastus from AMBER, which is funded by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI).

Dr Aran Rafferty and Dr Ehsan Rezvani are both being seconded to Kastus under the Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Industry Fellowship Programme, which supports industry-academia research partnerships.
The SFI Industry Fellowship Programme aims to enhance industry-academia collaborations, and to stimulate excellence in knowledge exchange and training of engineers and scientists. The programme funds the temporary placement of academic researchers in industry, and of industry researchers in academia.

Kastus made world headlines after its development of ground-breaking technology to prevent the spread of superbugs. The chemical solution was developed by scientists after more than a decade of research. It can be used to protect a range of high-touch everyday surfaces —including ceramic and glass tiles, smartphones, glass, door handles and metals— from harmful bacteria and micro-organisms, such as MRSA and E. coli.
The UK Government estimates that by 2050, drug-resistant infections will kill more than 10 million people a year worldwide and will be a bigger killer than cancer. It will also cost more than three per cent of Global GDP. Using nanotechnology, Kastus’ novel and patented technology can be applied during the production process, rendering the surface 99.9 per cent resistant to superbugs like MRSA, E. coli and other fungi.

It is the first that can be practically factory applied on everyday hard surfaces such as ceramic wall and floor tiles using no toxic bi-products. Previous antimicrobial solutions needed UV light or biocide chemical leaching to be activated but Kastus’ products are activated by indoor light and environmental moisture.

Last October, Kastus won the overall prize at the Irish Times innovation awards and also picked up the life science and healthcare category. The company also won the Knowledge Transfer Ireland (KTI) Spin-Out Company Impact Award which recognised the “successful and significant” work the company has done over the past year in the fight against the spread of superbugs.

Kastus received a €1.5m investment led by Atlantic Bridge University Fund, which invests in companies built from world-class research. Chris Horn, Partner with Atlantic Bridge, has joined the board of Kastus.

Dr James Kennedy, Kastus Director of Innovation and Operations, said:“The collaboration with Science Foundation Ireland through AMBER is an exciting move for Kastus and demonstrates the links that we are continuing to forge with academia. We are already working with Crest (Centre for Research in Engineering Surface Technology) at Dublin Institute of Technology and believe that collaboration between academic research and industry is key to major breakthroughs in technology.

“World-class research is extremely important to Kastus and with two highly-qualified and respected researchers joining the Kastus team, this can only propel the company even further. As Kastus is already an Enterprise Ireland client, it is very exciting to have a start-up join forces with both Enterprise Ireland and SFI.”

Prof. Michael Morris, AMBER Director, said: “Our collaboration with Kastus has the potential to significantly impact how MRSA and other superbugs are controlled and prevented in hospital and community settings. Our researchers in AMBER are globally renowned for the quality of our materials science and we have a unique set of state-of-the-art infrastructure which will benefit this engagement.

“I am delighted that Aran and Ehsan will have the opportunity to work with Kastus through Science Foundation Ireland’s Industry Fellowship Programme, which has already funded 20 AMBER fellowships to date.”

Dr Aran Rafferty, researcher in AMBER, is an expert in materials R&D and problem-solving, with specialist knowledge of technical glass and ceramic development. Dr Rafferty has contributed to materials textbooks, authored 20+ peer-reviewed papers, and has presented lectures in fundamental glass science to industry. His work with Kastus will focus on the development of optimised coating formulations and processes.

Dr Ehsan Rezvani, a post-doctoral researcher working in Trinity’s School of Physics, gained a PhD in materials under the supervision of Prof. Georg Duesberg from AMBER, and has worked for the last three years in Sharif University of Technology in Tehran.

Dr Parvaneh Mokarian, Senior Research Fellow at AMBER, the Science Foundation Ireland funded materials science centre based at Trinity College Dublin, will coordinate a major European project valued at €8.2m to pioneer the mass production of anti-reflective, scratch and abrasion resistant surfaces. The team’s new generation surfaces will offer enhanced functionalities to a range of products including anti-reflective surfaces for eyewear, video glasses, image sensors, electronics displays such as mobile phones and tablets and anti-fingerprint and soft-touch plastic parts for the automotive industry. Industry partners that are involved have committed to piloting the technology upon completion of the research project.

The 4-year SUN-PILOT (Piloting of Innovative Subwavelength Nanostructure Technology for Optical and Injection Moulding Applications) collaborative project has been awarded €7.1 million through Europe’s Horizon 2020 programme, with the remainder of the €1.1 million coming from industry. The technologies developed by SUN-PILOT will focus on solutions for the Optics and Automotive industries, where these nano-patterned surfaces will have a significant impact. SUN-PILOT involves 13 partners from 6 European countries – 5 multinationals, including Coherent (Scotland - the world’s leading suppliers of laser solutions) and Grupo Antolin (Spain - one of the largest players in the car interiors market); 4 SMEs including Irish Precision Optics; 2 universities; and 2 research institutes. AMBER will receive €2.1m of the total research funding sum, which is the largest amount Trinity has ever been awarded for a collaborative Horizon 2020 project. The composition of this consortium will allow a full research-development-innovation cycle with the scale-up of part production on active pilot lines, including injection moulding for production of car parts and the scale-up of nanomaterials.

Dr Mike Mason, Director of Engineering, Coherent Scotland (the world’s leading supplier of laser solutions) said, “As a leading supplier of lasers and photonics-based solutions for industry and science, Coherent is always keenly interested in exploring ways to extend both the reliability and performance of our products. We’re no strangers to cutting-edge coating technology, as it is certainly one of the aspects of laser engineering that helps deliver those highly-desired characteristics. SUN-PILOT has some very intriguing aspects that we’re enthusiastic about testing in several particularly demanding applications. We are pleased to be able to participate in endeavours such as this that seek to advance the state-of-the-art.”

Mr Pablo Soto, Head of the Materials Research Department from Grupo Antolin (one of the largest players in the car interiors market internationally) said, “This project will deliver significant value for us as a business, allowing us to strengthen our position as market leaders in the car interiors and manufacturers industry. Through the implementation of these innovative surfaces in our products, we will be able to provide solutions to the issues associated with the current mobility trends, such as autonomous and electric vehicles.”

Dr Parvaneh Mokarian, Senior Research Fellow at AMBER and Trinity’s School of Chemistry said, “For many devices, unwanted reflections of light can seriously compromise system performance and effectiveness, particularly with lasers and other optical systems. Current anti-reflection solutions typically rely on thin-film coatings comprising multiple layers of materials deposited onto each and every reflecting surface along the optical path. These coatings require careful design and engineering of the thicknesses and refractive index of the thin-films, and batch processes that involve relatively high temperatures. This is not commercially viable with plastic screens used, for example, in tablet and mobile phone screens. SUN-PILOT will look to reduce the cost of anti-reflective precision optics manufacture by at least 75% by replacing complex and demanding anti-reflective multilayer coatings with a single nano-patterned surface. We are confident that our research will have a major impact for both the optics industry and in the automotive industry.

We are delighted to have been chosen to lead on this major multi-million-euro European project and look forward to working with all of the relevant partners over the following 4 years. The preparation of this consortium was lengthy, and the team is incredibly grateful to Enterprise Ireland for their support, particularly through the Coordinator Support grant and their National Contact Points.”

SUN-PILOT will develop the new anti-reflection and scratch resistant technologies using the “Zeroptica” surface nano-patterning process developed and patented by Dr Mokarian in AMBER and which can be applied across a range of materials. The surfaces will also provide superior wear resistant properties compared to current coated solutions and will offer new self-cleaning and anti-microbial properties. Dr Mokarian developed the technology with support from Enterprise Ireland’s Commercialisation funding.

Dr Parvaneh Mokarian continued, “AMBER’s Zeroptica technology is based on block copolymers (structured molecular units) that deliver self-assembled nano-patterned masks onto any substrate. The advantage of this technique compared to other existing patterning methods is that it is solution based which means it can be applied on curved surfaces (camera lenses) and large areas such as solar cells. It is also cheap and doesn’t require any expensive equipment. Other available techniques used today either use harsh chemicals for patterning which are not environmentally friendly or require expensive equipment or can only be applied on flat surfaces (lithography).”

The global market for antireflection coatings is projected to be worth more than US$6.1 billion per annum by 2021 . Antireflection coatings are used in multiple markets including technical optics, eyewear, electronics, architectural, solar, automobile, video glasses, image sensors. Despite the demand and the large market opportunity, these coatings are not common on electronic displays due to the high cost of the current technology and the lack of durability of the coatings in challenging environments.

SUN-PILOT will also benefit the automotive industry, which is a huge user of injected plastic parts e.g. for instrument panels, door panels, lighting consoles. The global injection moulded plastic market is expected to reach US$296 billion by 2022. SUN-PILOT will develop nano-patterning moulds for injection moulding of plastic parts for the automotive industry to achieve functionality such as soft touch or enhanced colour. The most demanded finishing in interior parts are either highly bright (like Piano-Black) or soft-touch surfaces. SUN-PILOT will provide anti-fingerprint bright parts and soft-touch parts in the injection moulding process in one step, compared to the multi-step process currently required.

At the recent Trinity Innovation Awards 2017 (27th November), Dr Parvaneh Mokarian was awarded a prize by Provost, Dr Patrick Prendergast in the “One-2-watch”category for her innovation research and entrepreneurship.

AMBER (Advanced Materials and Bio-Engineering Research Centre), the Science Foundation Ireland-funded National Materials Science Research Centre, hosted in Trinity College Dublin, has today published its impact assessment report which details the last 10 years of nanoscience and materials science in Ireland.

This impact assessment report rigorously assesses the impact that AMBER, and its predecessor CRANN, have made to the Irish economy and wider society in the last 10 years. Working with the impact framework as defined by Science Foundation Ireland, AMBER has thoroughly interrogated research impacts across 7 key pillars – Economic and Commercial, Societal, International Engagement, Policy & Public Services, Health and Wellbeing, Environmental and Human Capacity. The report demonstrates that continued funding (under review by SFI) will allow AMBER to become one of the international centres of choice for collaborative industry research and help Ireland further its research profile in materials science and so promote Ireland as a destination for attracting hi-tec companies and inward investment. The centre has and will continue to attract leading industry and academic researchers into Ireland. AMBER’s vision is to grow and become a critical hub in the country’s innovation strategy - creating more opportunities for company spin-outs and growth.

Key Highlights of the Report include
• Ireland ranked 1st in the world for nanoscience research and 3rd for materials science research in 2016
• For every €1 invested, AMBER and CRANN have helped the Irish economy to grow by €5
• AMBER and its predecessor CRANN generated over 14,000 jobs in Ireland over 10 years and during this time had a total income of €108 million generating a gross output nationwide of over €505 million
• The institute has worked with more than 200 companies in Ireland and internationally and has received €4.4 M of industry cash in the last four years with a further €1.7M contracted
• Over €45 million European funding has been awarded to CRANN and AMBER academics
• Over 2,400 research papers, generating over 76,000 citations have been published by AMBER researchers– 45% of AMBER academics have taken out a patent compared to 8% of Irish academics and 6% of UK academics
• AMBER researchers have been awarded more ERC funding than any other research centre in Ireland and Prof Valeria Nicolosi is Europe’s only 5 time ERC awardee
• AMBER and CRANN academics are far more engaged across a broad range of knowledge exchange activities than either Irish or UK academics, including giving invited lectures, working with research consortia and engaging with industry – 79% of CRANN/AMBER academics gave invited lectures compared to 50% of Irish academics and 55% of UK academics.

Announcing the publication of the report, An Tánaiste and Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Frances Fitzgerald T.D. said: “A key part of Government’s Action Plan for Jobs is prioritising research and innovation, and ensuring that spend in this area is focused on turning good research into tangible applications, investment and jobs. The results contained in today’s report are testimony to the impressive research discoveries, significant industry collaborations, new patents and new technologies delivered by AMBER, all of which delivers real societal and economic impact, positioning Ireland as first and third internationally for nanoscience research and materials science research respectively last year. Government remains firmly committed to supporting high quality, internationally competitive research with the potential to generate jobs and support economic growth. I commend Professor Morris and all of his team on these impressive results.”

Minister of State for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development John Halligan T.D.said, “It is no exaggeration to say that a key part of Ireland’s economic recovery can be attributed to the quality of our research centres and their output. AMBER’s world-leading research has attracted and continues to attract FDI into Ireland, creating thousands of jobs and spurring growth amongst innovative domestic companies too. Leading multinationals have stated in this Impact Assessment Report that a key reason for their selecting Ireland as a base, is their work with AMBER, the quality of which is unrivalled in many areas. AMBER’s researchers are making world-first discoveries that are leading to new Irish start-ups, and helping global corporations deliver new applications in the areas of ICT, energy and medicine, among others. Government is committed to supporting centres like AMBER, through Science Foundation Ireland, and as part of our national Innovation Strategy.”

Commenting on the report, Dr Darrin Morrissey, Director of Programmes at Science Foundation Ireland said: “The report demonstrates the significant positive impact that has been made by the AMBER SFI Research Centre in Ireland over the past 10 years. AMBER, through world-leading researchers, is creating new knowledge and intellectual property. It is transferring that knowledge to industry through licensing agreements, industrial staff exchanges and spin-outs. The report highlights the impressive outputs from AMBER and demonstrates how Ireland’s research community are world-leading and making tangible impacts on our economy.”

Speaking at the launch, Professor Mick Morris, Director of AMBER, said: “We are delighted that the hard work of our researchers and staff over the last 10+ years is effectively demonstrated in this report through the significant contribution that CRANN and AMBER have made to the economic and societal wellbeing of our local, regional and national communities and through our international research. In the next decade nanoscience and materials science in Ireland will lead on the international stage and we remain committed to making a difference to the social and economic well-being of Ireland through the quality of our research and training for graduates and our engagements with businesses and communities both nationally and internationally. This report showcases the critical importance for AMBER to continue to be funded for world class research so that we can deliver, scientific, economic and societal impacts into Ireland for the benefit of the entire population.”

Domhnaill Hernon, Head of Innovation Incubation and Experiments in Arts and Technology, Nokia Bell Labs, said: “AMBER is considered as an exemplar academic collaborator across Bells Labs globally and for good reason. They stand out for their ability to engage with industry while delivering world leading scientific research. In my opinion they are a dream partner and acting as the executive sponsor I plan on growing this collaboration substantially.”

Gerardo Bertero, Senior Director at Western Digital, said: “We partner with the best expertise we can find around the globe. As such, we are proud of our association with AMBER. We have found the exchanges to be open, highly intellectual, mutually respectful and of excellent technical and scientific content.”