Science Foundation Ireland

Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) - Supporting excellence in alimentary pharmabiotics

Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) is Ireland’s national foundation for investment in scientific and engineering research, focused on supporting outstanding research talent. Over the last decade, it has built a community of almost 3,000 world-leading researchers in Ireland’s higher education institutes, and its researchers are engaged in approximately 1,800 academic collaborations spanning 68 countries.

Working with industry

SFI strongly encourages research collaboration between SFI-funded scientists and engineers and industry. Currently, over 30% of SFI funded researchers have established collaborations with industry and research groups are working in over 1,000 industry-academic collaborations with multinational companies (MNCs) and with small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) based in Ireland and abroad

SFI assists these industry partnerships through access to government-funded industry-focused academic researchers and infrastructure, flexible funding schemes for collaborative research projects  and matched-research funding programmes. Its seven major collaborative research centres for excellence specialise in topics ranging from nanotechnology to immunology.  New companies can join an SFI-supported research centre at any time.


A partner for the food industry: The Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre

The SFI-funded Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre (APC) is recognised as a world leader in research centred on novel antimicrobials & antiinflammatories, relating food and microbial diversity with health, and templates for future foods.

Its research is relevant to many different industries, including  food, pharma, biotechnology, infant nutrition, medical foods, diagnostics and sports nutrition as well as animal health.  Its principal investigators are leading global experts in their field, and its teams bring clinicians, clinician-scientists and basic scientists from diverse background together in a lively trans-disciplinary environment.

The APC’s research agenda includes identifying health-promoting bacteria and food constituents for incorporation into functional foods; gut microbiota and health status; novel bioactives to treat intestinal and infectious diseases and the role of alimentary pharmabiotics in disease prevention, improved cognition and healthy ageing.

Working with the APC

Based at University College Cork, the APC has over a decade’s experience managing industry interactions across a broad range of areas.  It welcomes new strategic industry partners from Ireland and globally, through a variety of flexible mechanisms, including industry-academia placements  and research partnerships, which can include anything from small proof-of-concept projects right to large scale collaborations.

The benefits of partnership include the ability to undertake collaborative research with a reduced overhead cost, access to APC technology platforms and extensive APC databases, and the reservoir of knowledge held by the APC investigators.

Case study

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world.  In its Irish operations, GSK is developing a ground-breaking research project into gastrointestinal diseases, in collaboration with the Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre. This project is jointly supported by IDA Ireland and Science Foundation Ireland (SFI).

Speaking about its work with APC, Dr Kevin Lee, Head of Immuno Inflammation Virtual, Vice-President, GSK  said:“In a lengthy worldwide search of gastrointestinal industrial and academic institutions conducted by GSK in an attempt to identify the most appropriate body for partnership, the APC emerged as the clear leader, based on scientific expertise, complementary technology, track record of successful industrial collaboration, access to clinical populations, productivity and availability of critical mass.”