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Ensuring Galway stays to the forefront of MedTech sector

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More than one in ten of Galway’s population is employed by the MedTech sector – and the recent launch of CÚRAM, the Centre for Research in Medical Devices in NUI Galway, has bolstered Ireland’s position as one of the top MedTech clusters in the world.

The establishment of CÚRAM in Galway will strengthen the sustainability of the MedTech sector by enabling industries to expand their research and development focus, while also increasing employment opportunities, according to Professor Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director of CÚRAM.

“The impact of a centre like CÚRAM will also increase the number of spin-out companies forming in the region from the centre’s research thrusts in the coming years,” he said.

“CÚRAM will also have an impact on the University in Galway, attracting new talent and top level researchers to the region, which will again build on its attractiveness as a location for new industry, both indigenous and international.”

CÚRAM represents investment of €49 million over six years from the Science Foundation of Ireland. In just over 18 months, this support has already been used to leverage a further €19 million in funding from the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme, over €4.3 million of which has been awarded directly to indigenous Irish industry.

“The MedTech sector is hugely important to the Irish economy; with over 400 companies based here, it accounts for over 29,000 jobs and is responsible for €12.6 billion worth of exports,” said Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Mary Mitchell O’Connor TD, as she officially launched CÚRAM last month.

“I am delighted to launch CÚRAM, a world class research centre, which will be very significant for our society and our economy. CÚRAM will also play a key role in ensuring that world class skills will be available to companies in Ireland as it is here, to futureproof the MedTech industry by providing access to unparalleled scientific expertise and innovation.”

While CÚRAM will provide huge benefits for Galway as a whole, Professor Pandit, who heads up a team of 280 people at the facility, says that Galway is also an ideal location for the research centre.

“Galway is an ideal base for CÚRAM because of the expertise and facilities provided by NUI Galway, the Clinical Research Facility and the hospitals, but also because of the entrepreneurial ethos that exists in the region,” he said.

“The existence of such a strong hub of MedTech industry in the region enhances that network of industry contacts and increases the capabilities of our industry partners of CÚRAM. Galway also produces high calibre, high quality graduates required to carry out cutting edge research in the medical devices sector and these come from across all the sciences and engineering.”

According to NUI Galway President, Dr Jim Browne, CÚRAM is already attracting new research talent to Ireland, and will train the next generation of scientists, employees and entrepreneurs in this sector.

“The calibre of our graduates in this field is extremely high, and they are inspired by the exciting potential of the sector. One example of CÚRAM’s direct co-operation with industry is through MedTrain, a new industry academic fellowship programme which will see 31 researchers enrol with CÚRAM’s Investigators as fellows in the next four years with support from EU’s Horizon 2020 programme,” he said.

MedTrain will roll out over the next four and a half years and will offer 31 prestigious two-year postdoctoral fellowships to experienced researchers in the area of medical device research and development, including tissue engineering and regenerative medicine, biomaterials and drug delivery, glycol and protein engineering and neuromodulation and medical device design.

“The MedTrain programme will provide a chance for researchers to enhance their creative, entrepreneurial and innovative potential. For anyone wishing to diversify their skill set, through advanced training, international and inter-sectoral mobility, in the area of medical device research and development, this will be a really valuable opportunity,” Professor Pandit explained.

“CÚRAM works closely with academics, industry and clinicians and this programme will further enhance those networks across Europe and internationally which are critical for driving medical device research and development. Participants will have access to state-of-the-art infrastructure and teams of multi-disciplinary experts in the broad area of medical device research and development.

“It will deliver high quality tailor-made training for fellows that will equip them with skills and experience required to meet their career goals as well as facilitating their engagement with industry through non-academic secondment partnerships,” he said.

Global demographic shifts mean we are living longer, but with chronic illnesses such as diabetes, Parkinson’s and heart disease. The research approach at CÚRAM is collaborative, multidisciplinary and informed from all perspectives so that it translates from basic research to clinical application as efficiently and quickly as possible.

“Years of strategic planning and investment have made Ireland a global hub for medical technology. CÚRAM is the next chapter in our MedTech success story. To ensure that the industry stays here and grows here, CÚRAM researchers are developing partnerships with Ireland’s 300-strong MedTech company base to discover new technologies for global use,” said Professor Pandit.

“We are all getting older and chronic diseases are increasing in populations. We at CÚRAM understand that both clinical and economic needs to be met and our goal is to come up with affordable solutions.

“Research into medical technologies has been going on in Irish Universities for at least two decades. Ireland is now the highest per capita exporter of medical technologies in Europe. It is a sector that needs to be nurtured and these factors have led to the establishment of CÚRAM.”

The workforce in the medical devices industry is very highly skilled, according to the professor, and the impact of the sector on the wider economy is also very large.

“It is estimated that for every one direct job in the industry, a further 3.75 are supported indirectly. This means that the industry is responsible for over 100,000 jobs within Ireland. When you walk down Shop Street in Galway, it is very unlikely that you will meet someone who is not connected in some way to the medical device industry. Being established in Ireland, CÚRAM is destined to have a global impact on healthcare,” said Professor Pandit.

“We are delighted to have the Centre launched so effectively, and we have raised some awareness of the huge potential of CÚRAM and the MedTech sector. What we need to do now is ensure that we maintain the level of energy, investment and collaboration that we have built to this point and nurture these partnerships so that we are in a position to continue our work and maintain and strengthen Ireland’s position as a global hub for medical device research.

■ For more information on CÚRAM, see www.curamdevices.ie

CITY TRIBUNE

Car enthusiasts say they have “every right” to use Salthill as event confirmed

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Galway Bay fm newsroom – Car enthusiasts say they have “every right” to use Salthill this weekend as an event has been announced for Sunday.

It’s been confirmed by organisers on social media – who say they’re being unfairly portrayed in a negative light.

In a statement, the Galway Car Scene group say they pay road tax like all other road users – and they have “every right” to be in Salthill this weekend.

It comes as they’ve confirmed the event will be taking place there on Sunday as originally planned.

They add it’s unfair to accuse them of blocking up Salthill and other parts of the city given the chronic traffic issues every day of the week.

They’ve also created an online petition calling for a designated place for car enthusiasts to go – which has so far gathered almost 250 signatures.

It claims the car enthusiast community in Galway has been unfairly painted as a negative and anti-social group.

The group say they’re happy to go elsewhere, but say any time they try to find a venue they’re shut out.

The event planned for Sunday has encountered significant opposition, much of which is based on a previous “Salthill Sundays” event held in May.

Those opposed say they’re not against an event of this kind in principle – but they strongly feel that Salthill just isn’t the right venue.

It’s also argued that if the organisers want to be taken seriously, they have to engage with stakeholders like Galway City Council and Gardaí to ensure a well-planned and safe event.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Cars down to one-way system on Salthill Promenade

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A one-way system of traffic may be introduced along the Promenade in Salthill to facilitate the introduction of temporary cycle lanes.

The suggestion appeared to come as a shock to some City Council members who supported the cycle lane in a vote last month – one has called for a “full discussion again” on what exactly they had actually approved.

Councillors had voted 17-1 in favour of the principle of providing a cycleway that will stretch from Grattan Road all along the Prom.

The motion that passed at the September meeting proposed that the Council “shall urgently seek” to create a two-way segregated cycle track on a temporary basis along the coastal side of the Prom.

It was agreed that from the Blackrock Tower junction to the Barna Road would be a one-way cycle track.

The motion was voted on without debate, which meant Council officials did not have an opportunity to question the proposal.

At a meeting on Monday, the debate was revisited when Uinsinn Finn, Director of Services for Transportation, indicated that a one-way traffic system would be introduced in Salthill to facilitate a two-way cycle lane from Grattan Road to Blackrock.

This could mean that the outbound lane of traffic, closest to the sea, could be closed to all traffic bar bikes.

Mr Finn said that he would have sought clarity at the previous meeting – if debate were allowed – about what was meant by ‘temporary’.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Galway Christmas Market gets go-ahead for next month

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – It’s the first real sign of a restoration of normality in terms of the retail and hospitality sectors in the city – the return of the Christmas Market next month to Eyre Square.

This week, the City Council’s planning department gave the go-ahead for the outdoor retail and gourmet food ‘spread’ that has been part of the festive season in Galway since 2010.

The exception was last year when, like so many other public gatherings since the Covid crisis broke in March 2020, the event had to be cancelled because of public health concerns.

Christmas Market Organiser, Maria Moynihan Lee, Managing Director of Milestone Inventive, confirmed to the Galway City Tribune, that she had received official confirmation on Thursday from the City Council of the go-ahead being given for the event.

“This is really wonderful news for the city and especially so in terms of the retail and hospitality sectors. For every €1 spent at the market another €3 will be spent on the high street – this will be a real boost for Galway,” she said.

Maria Moynihan Lee confirmed that the market would have an earlier than usual start of Friday, November 12 and would run through until the Wednesday evening of December 22.

(Photo: Declan Colohan)

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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