Irish Bioeconomy Foundation | Sustainability through innovation

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Funding secured for Bioeconomy Innovation and Piloting Facility

11th December 2017

Lisheen Mine Task Force and Irish Bioeconomy Foundation (IBF) welcome announcement by the Minister for Business, Enterprise, and Innovation, Ms. Heather Humphreys TD, of funding to substantially support the Irish Bioeconomy Foundation CLG to develop a Bioeconomy Innovation and Piloting Facility at the Lisheen site in Co. Tipperary.

Announcement represents a very significant milestone in the development of a Bioeconomy Campus at Lisheen, Co. Tipperary and a huge step forward for Ireland’s ambitions to be a world leader in the sustainable use of our natural resources.

The Lisheen Task Force and the Irish Bioeconomy Foundation (IBF) welcomed the announcement today by Minister Heather Humphreys on financial support through Enterprise Irelands` Regional Economic Development Fund for the establishment of a Bioeconomy innovation and piloting facility at Lisheen Co. Tipperary. The facility will enable industry, entrepreneurs and researchers to scale technologies that convert Ireland’s natural resources to products of high value for use in a wide variety of sectors including food ingredients, feed ingredients, pharmaceuticals, natural chemicals, biodegradable plastics and more.

The global chemicals market is worth €2.5 trillion and is set to double in value by 2030. The OECD predicts that 22% of all chemicals will be natural by 2025. Pharmaceuticals are worth €1 trillion p.a. and predicted to reach €1.5 trillion by 2021. Increasingly Nutrition and Pharma are interfacing through natural heath promoting molecules (nutraceuticals). Biotechnology and chemistry have the tools to produce nutraceuticals and pharmaceuticals from our natural resources and feed into multibillion Euro global markets.

This National Bioeconomy innovation and piloting facility is part of the strategies of the Lisheen taskforce strategy and Tipperary County Council strategy to establish a world leading Bioeconomy campus at Lisheen Co. Tipperary and a wider national strategy to drive innovation in rural Ireland through the use of Ireland’s natural resources. The Lisheen site is the hub of a “Model demonstration region” for the Bioeconomy in Ireland which received funding from the European Commission. The Irish government Rural Economic Development Zones (REDZ) scheme matched with funds from the Irish Bioeconomy foundation membership (IBF) funded a feasibility study for the development of a National Bioeconomy Innovation & Piloting Facility for scale-up of processes to convert biobased resources to high value products as part of the Bioeconomy campus and the model demonstration region.

The (IBF) is a not for profit organisation set up in 2016 by Tipperary County Council, Commercial Mushroom Producers (CMP), Glanbia, University College Dublin (UCD), Trinity College Dublin (TCD), and Limerick Institute of Technology (LIT) to promote the conversion of Ireland’s natural land & sea resources to high value products for the development of a globally competitive sustainable bioeconomy. The IBF represents the formal output of a series of initiatives which began in 2013 with the establishment of a taskforce fully supported by Tipperary County council and Vedanta resources. The taskforce, originally chaired by former Minister and TD Liz O’Donnell and now chaired by Alan Buckley (former general manager at Lisheen mine) sought alternative uses for the Lisheen mine site in Tipperary which closed in November 2015. The taskforce, together with Prof Kevin O’Connor (UCD) who brought his European leadership position in the bioeconomy recommended redevelopment of the site as a National Bioeconomy Campus with the aim of creating significant employment opportunities presented by the bioeconomy.

The announcement today of grant-aid of €x through Enterprise Irelands Regional Economic Development Fund will support the development of a bioeconomy facility within the existing administration building at Lisheen with a further addition of 8,000 sq.ft. of space for pilot processing facilities. The Facility can be the location of choice for companies to scale up their technologies and produce prototype products for market testing in a location with state of the art infrastructure which is home to one of the largest wind farms in the country operated by Brookfield Energy.

Mr. Alan Buckley, Chairperson of the Lisheen Task Force extended his “warmest congratulations to all the members of the Irish Bioeconomy Foundation who put the successful grant application together and acknowledged the vision and hard work of the Lisheen Task Force. The Task Force recognises the valuable support that has been shown by Vedanta around the redevelopment of the site”. Mr. Buckley expressed his appreciation to Minister Humphreys and Enterprise Ireland for their vision in supporting this extremely important project for the reindustrialisation of the Lisheen site and the development of the Bioeconomy sector in Ireland.

Mr Joe Gorman of Commercial Mushroom Producers (CMP) and chairperson of the IBF, said his organization was “delighted by the news and eager to progress the project in 2018 to address critical challenges for the scale up and commercialisation of new technologies and natural products which will support existing jobs, create new jobs, help the biobased industries to diversify and it will be a key facility nationally to drive innovation in rural Ireland”

Dr Liam Brown (LIT) Vice-President for Research, Development and Innovation is “excited about the new facility and how it will leverage existing national research infrastructure such as Shannon Applied Biotechnology, an Enterprise Ireland funded Technology Gateway and deliver training and further research projects for a new generation of bioeconomy workers. This facility will drive innovation and competitiveness in the Irish bioeconomy.”

Ms Deshnee Naidoo, chief executive, Vedanta Zinc International welcomed the announcement and “Wishes the IBF every success with the project. Ms. Naidoo also reaffirmed Vedanta’s commitment to seek to attract replacement industry for the site with a particular focus in the Bioeconomy and green energy sectors. This award from Enterprise Ireland for the innovation facility in the Bioeconomy is a major milestone in our implementation plan for the World Class Mine Closure of the Lisheen mine”.

Professor Kevin O Connor UCD said “The announcement by Minister Humphreys of Enterprise Ireland funding to establish the National Bioeconomy innovation and pilot facility is a huge step forward for Ireland’s ambitions to be a world leader in the sustainable use of our natural resources and rural redevelopment through innovation. This investment complements that made by the Irish government through Science foundation Ireland (SFI) in BEACON Bioeconomy research centre led by UCD. We are very excited and look forward to bringing projects from BEACON on to the next stage of development at Lisheen.”