Ireland invests millions in new Photonics Centre

Ireland’s Minister for Enterprise Trade and Employment, Micheal Martin, has officially opened a new Photonics Systems Research and Development Centre at the Tyndall National Institute in University College Cork (UCC), Cork.

CORK, IRELAND - Ireland’s Minister for Enterprise Trade and Employment, Micheal Martin, has officially opened a new Photonics Systems Research and Development Centre at the Tyndall National Institute in University College Cork (UCC), Cork. It’s reported that the new center, which cost 9 million Euro (US$11 million), was completed by Tyndall and UCC with substantial support from the Science Foundation Ireland.

The Tyndall National Institute was established in 2004, with funding from the SFI, and is named after the 19th century Irish scientist John Tyndall, whose “light-pipe” eventually led to the development of fiber optics. The Institute, which initially comprised NMRC (National Microelectronics Research Centre) along with the Photonics research communities of UCC and the Cork Institute of Technology, aims to be a national focal point for excellence in research in microelectronics, photonics and related technologies.

Head of Tyndall’s Photonics Systems Group (PSG) is Professor David Cotter. Cotter was previously Head of Optical Systems Research at Corning Research Centre, UK (2000-2003), and before that Head of the Photonic Systems Group, British Telecom (BT) Laboratories. He was at BT, Adastral Park, near Ipswich, Suffolk, from 1980-2000, and during 1992-2000 he was project manager of BT’s research on high-speed optical networks, optical switching, and signal processing. The PSG has R&D links with companies including Ericsson, Siemens, Alcatel, BT, France Telecom, Lucent, Intel, Xilinx, Corning, and Sumitomo.

Professor Roger Whatmore, Tyndall’s CEO, said the new lab would play a critical role in positioning Ireland at the forefront of emerging ICT technology. The Irish Examiner quoted him as saying: “Our intention is to build upon Tyndall’s internationally-recognised excellence in research and bring this to the market place to encourage the development of high technology industries within Ireland.”

Turning Ireland into a key player in the global knowledge economy is the prime focus of a seven-year government plan. Minister Martin announced in February, “Through the new Strategy on Science, Technology & Innovation for 2006-2013, the Government wants to accelerate Ireland’s progress towards being a key player in the knowledge economy.”

SFI has been allocated 149.43 million Euros (US$189 million) for 2006, which represents a 22.2% increase on its 2005 allocation of 122.2 million Euros (US$154 million). - Bridget K. Marx

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