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University of Limerick to Host Irish Centre for Composites Research

17 March 2010

It will also co-host Competence Centres for BioEnergy, Microelectronics and IT innovation. Enterprise Ireland has already ring-fenced €32 million in funding for the initial centres and it anticipates investing a further €24 million over the next five years across nine centres.

University of Limerick President, Professor Don Barry welcomed the announcement saying; ""The University of Limerick has an excellent track record in research in the key areas of composites, energy, ICT and microelectronics and our significant involvement in four of the five centres of excellence announced today is testament to the quality of our researchers in these fields. We welcome UL's leading role in the Irish Centre for Composites Research and look forward to continuing partnerships in the three other competence centres of bioenergy, microelectronics and IT innovation.""

Dr Trevor Young, UL composites research, Professor Brian Fitzgerald, Vice President Research and University of Limerick President, Professor Don Barry celebrate the award of €5 million for the Irish Centre for Composites Materials to UL.

Professor Brian Fitzgerald, Vice President Research at the University of Limerick said; ""The Competence Centres build on the strengths of each institution and will support our focus on research which has a direct impact on industry. The Irish Centre for Composites Research at UL is a major step in furthering Ireland's leading role in advanced research and innovation in an area that has far-reaching impacts while building on our success in a translational approach to research.""

The Irish Centre for Composites Research will provide a national focal point for world-class composites research, innovation and technology transfer, with a research agenda set by Irish industry partners including ÉireComposites, Henkel Ireland, Bombardier Aerospace, Element Six, Tyco Electronics, AMPAC and Cavanagh Foundry.

Dr Trevor Young of the University of Limerick led the proposal to host the Centre at UL said; ""The world's largest aircraft manufacturers, Airbus, Boeing and Bombardier have committed to significantly increase the use of advanced composites on the next generation of aircraft. This revolutionary decision is having a massive impact on the composites industry, increasing demand for research and development of future composites and cheaper manufacturing techniques.""

The new centre will assist Irish industry to undertake the R&D needed to compete in this high-tech industry.

Dr. Conchur O Bradaigh, Joint Managing Director of Eire Composites and industry lead with the Irish Centre for Composites Research said; ""the advantage to companies of being involved in a Competence Centre is that they get access to industrially-focussed research at an earlier stage than they otherwise would have, this then gives these companies a competitive edge internationally"".

Composite materials have been a major focus of research at UL for nearly two decades and a key aspect of the research conducted in the Materials and Surface Science Institute (MSSI) based at UL. UL has worked with almost every major aerospace company in Europe on more than 35 funded research projects, including 14 funded by the EU. The reputation built up through these projects has led to directly funded contracts from Airbus, EADS and Bombardier Aerospace.

Michael Ryan, Vice-President and General Manager, Bombardier Aerospace, Belfast, said: ""We are delighted to be able to build on our existing relationship with the University of Limerick through this new centre for composites research. Research and development is the backbone of competitiveness, and collaborative research such as this into advanced composites technologies will enable companies to develop their processes and capabilities, and ultimately improve their competitiveness in an extremely challenging global market place. Within the aerospace industry, this research will also provide an important opportunity to take further steps towards developing more environmentally friendly aircraft of the future."" The composites research group at UL has built an enviable record of high quality fundamental and applied research through its publications and participation in large European projects like the current Airbus-led, €67million MAAXIMUS project. In MAAXIMUS, the next generation of design and manufacturing techniques are being developed for future composite aircraft fuselage structures.

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