Breakthrough inventions shine at Cork awards

Invention of the Year winners
PIctured; 2016 Invention of the Year Award winners Pleun Maaskant Tyndall Institute; Prof Richard Linger, CIT; and Prof Noel Caplice, UCC

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29 March 2016 | 0

Three inventions took home gongs at the Invention of the Year Awards held in Cork last week.

The Awards – organised by University College Cork (UCC), Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) and Teagasc, and sponsored by Purdy Lucey – recognise disruptive innovations and technologies developed in Ireland.

This year’s winners were from UCC, CIT Nimbus and Tyndall Institute with innovations that include a new king of light-emitting diode (LED) which could be used in driverless cars; a stem cell innovation that could replace open-heart surgery; as well as an advanced energy optimisation system that could revolutionise how energy is supplied, controlled and diverted.

The ICT invention of the year was won by the team of Pleun Maaskant, Brian Corbett and Mahbub Akhter of the Tyndall Institute’s Photonics Centre for their super luminescent LED device, SLED. This is a brighter and more powerful form of LED and has applications in driverless cars, communications, environmental monitoring and gesture recognition.

The team has invented a novel structure and a new, lower cost fabrication route for making these devices. Commercialisation activities are progressing, and the SLED technology is being evaluated for its potential to develop a start-up company.

Prof Noel Caplice, director of UCC’s Centre for Research in Vascular Biology, took the life sciences invention award for his stem cell invention which has developed a way to grow stem cells taken from a patient’s own blood onto a degradable scaffold (‘stent-like’ structure). The implanted device triggers new microvessels to grow around the blocked portion of the artery to restore normal blood flow, revolutionising the treatment of coronary artery disease.

A cloud-based energy management solution from Prof Richard Linger of CIT’s Nimbus Centre received the invention of the year award. SESOP (Scalable Energy Systems Optimisation Platform) is a predictive energy control optimisation system that gives customers low risk access to the electricity wholesale market, combining real-time data and advanced software algorithms to choose the timing of energy use to save up to 25% of energy costs.

SESOP has been in development since 2012 with over €1 million of R&D funding. It is currently being deployed on trial sites in commercial properties, apartments and water-related assets in Ireland to meet the challenge of managing multiple sources of energy and to supply multiple energy-consuming devices, in the most cost-effective way possible.

“Each year the Invention of the Year Awards showcase the talent of research teams working across the Cork region, in various institutions, colleges and of course at UCC,” said Prof Anita Maguire, VP research & innovation at UCC. “The calibre of inventions this year was exceptionally high and each of these winning technologies presents enormous opportunity for commercialisation, potential licensing and indeed widespread adoption in the marketplace to advance and improve the quality of all our lives.”

UCC leads the UCT consortium, which also includes CIT and Teagasc, focused on supporting the commercialisation of research. The consortium is one of eight across Ireland that are funded through the Enterprise Ireland Technology Transfer Strengthening Initiative (TTSI) programme which builds capacity and capability in this specialist area.

The funding programme is managed through Knowledge Transfer Ireland which has a national role to drive innovation in Ireland by making it simpler for companies to access state-funded technology, ideas and expertise.

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