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THEA and BEACON SFI Bioeconomy Research Centre enter into collaboration

Posted on: 17 Oct 2019

THEA and BEACON SFI Bioeconomy Research Centre enter into collaboration

Ireland’s national bioeconomy research centre to work with technological higher education sector to unlock commercial potential of the country’s bioeconomy and proactively tackle climate change.

BEACON SFI Bioeconomy Research Centre signed an agreement today (17 October 2019) with the Technological Higher Education Association (THEA) to create partnerships and opportunities for collaboration across the technological higher education sector.

THEA and BEACON have come together to create collaborative mechanisms to further develop Ireland’s bioeconomy through partnerships in research, development, innovation, education and training opportunities, with a particular focus on regional development.  This is the first time that THEA has signed an MOU with an SFI Research Centre and creates opportunities for BEACON to collaborate with all of THEA’s higher education institutions across Ireland.  The agreement is signed as part of Bioeconomy Ireland Week 2019.

Ireland’s bioeconomy supports economic development and employment in rural Ireland through promotion of a sustainable use of renewable biological resources while unlocking the commercial potential of bioeconomic activities. The footprint of the technological higher education sector is particularly efficient in this respect, reaching from Donegal to Tralee, Connemara to Waterford, Dundalk through the midlands.

Dr Jennifer Brennan, Director of Research Development & Innovation with THEA stated “This agreement allows the BEACON centre to create opportunities for collaboration with all of our members. Two of our members, IT Tralee and LIT are already developing ideas for joint initiatives with BEACON and we look forward to working with the centre to extend that partnership across the regions.”

“Key to developing a vibrant, sustainable circular bioeconomy in Ireland is the need  to work together collaboratively.  BEACON brings together expertise in this way.  Our aim is to grow the size of our centre and breadth of our research portfolio through collaboration with investigators, institutions and industry as partners and increasing our access to European funding”, stated Professor Kevin O’Connor, Director, BEACON SFI Bioeconomy Research Centre.

“Signing this MoU with THEA allows for interaction and dialogue with the technological higher education sector as a whole and creates opportunities for us to make valuable connections between researchers right across the country. It is particularly significant that we are signing this agreement during Bioeconomy Ireland Week 2019, where bioeconomy events and activities are taking place right across the country, shining a spotlight on new and exciting opportunities, particularly in rural areas”. 

“The bioeconomy provides a tangible opportunity to proactively address the climate challenges we are facing in Ireland and globally through the use of our natural resources.  The bioeconomy is a fundamental shift in how we produce and consume as a society and as an economy.  Working together and collaborating is key to achieving this change and our agreement with THEA today is a significant step in that direction”.


For further information please contact:

Róisín O’Connell, head of communications, THEA: (087) 9193333



BEACON SFI Bioecononomy Research Centre is Ireland’s national Bioeconomy Research Centre, funded by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) and co-funded under the European Regional Development Fund. The Centre was formally launched by Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, TD on 19 October 2018. Researcher-led ‘platform’ projects and industry partnered ‘targeted’ projects work to develop a sustainable Irish bioeconomy that seeks to increase resource efficiency by using food processing and marine residues and side streams, and produce value-added materials and products that can be used in chemicals, materials, and nutrition. BEACON’s science and technology expertise complements its research on bioeconomy policy and societal and commercial perspectives. BEACON is funded under the Science Foundation Ireland Research Centres Programme and is co-funded under the European Regional Development Fund.


About THEA

The Technological Higher Education Association (THEA) is the representative advocacy body for the technological higher education institutions in Ireland.


About Science Foundation Ireland  

Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) is the national foundation for investment in scientific and engineering research. It funds oriented basic and applied research in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) which promotes and assists the development and competitiveness of industry, enterprise and employment in Ireland. The Foundation also promotes and supports the study of, and engagement with STEM, and promotes an awareness and understanding of the value of STEM to society and to the growth of the economy. See www.sfi.ie.


The bioeconomy uses renewable biological resources sourced sustainably from land and sea such as crops, forestry, fisheries, aquaculture, micro-organisms and animals and converts these resources and their processing by-products into value added biobased products including proteins, feed, fertilizers, plastics and energy. The bioeconomy has the potential to create new sustainable opportunities for farmers and lead to the creation of high quality green jobs in rural and coastal areas.


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