The Innovation Partnership is a tailored programme designed and operated by Enterprise Ireland to support collaborative projects between a company and a higher education research team. Companies can use the Innovation Partnership scheme to support the development of new and improved products, processes, services or to generate new knowledge and know-how.
The programme is open to manufacturing or internationally traded services company with an operating base in the Republic of Ireland that wish to collaborate with one or more research institutes also based in the Republic of Ireland.
Through Enterprise Ireland, the Innovation Partnership programme provides grants of up to 80% towards the eligible costs of a research project, normally up a grant ceiling of €200,000.
For further details, visit The Innovation Partnership Programme.
Developing a scaled-up process for the sustainable production of nutraceuticals from microalgae
Algae Health, based in Galway, is a young start-up company with high-growth prospects. Focused on the production of health and nutritional compounds from marine sources, it has identified a microalgae source for carotenoids with potential health benefits.
Following three years of intensive R&D, Algae Health approached the Shannon Applied Biotechnology Centre (Shannon ABC) to develop a scaled-up process for the sustainable, environmentally friendly production of these nutraceuticals. The project was supported through Enterprise Ireland’s Innovation Partnership fund.
Shannon ABC helped identify the best micro-algal strains for the production of the carotenoid Astaxanthin, and, as part of the transition from lab-scale reaction conditions to large-scale industrial reactors, Shannon ABC assisted Algae Health in the operation of the company’s pilot-scale (1,000 litre), enclosed cultivation reactors for a period of over 18 months. This involved addressing technical processing issues and optimising the tank conditions, resulting in improved bio-active yields as well as improving the cost-effectiveness of the production system. In addition, the research team developed a scalable, supercritical fluid extraction process for the extraction, purification and enrichment of bioactive components, addressing one of the key issues associated with the environmentally sustainable commercial production of nutraceuticals from microalgae.
“Working with Shannon ABC has been vital to the commercialisation of our company,” commented Algae Health’s founder Edward McHugh. “Their laboratory cultivation skills enabled us to develop the technical knowledge to scale-up to pilot tanks. Throughout the project, they always kept a commercial focus on the research, which resulted in the very positive completion of this project. On the back of the results from the refinement of our technology, Algae Health has been able to secure €950,000 commercialisation funding, and we now employ five people, with plans for 23 employees within the next three years.”
Algae Health and Shannon ABC continue to collaborate and are both currently involved in a pan-European research project, called BAMMBO, with the objective of developing alternative ways to produce target bio-active compounds from marine sources, balancing environmental, health and economic concerns through a holistic, cradle-to-grave approach.