The Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI), the applied research arm of the Georgia Institute of Technology, will establish a research enterprise in Athlone, Ireland to focus on industry research and development needs.
GTRI Ireland will be GTRI's first applied research facility outside the United States. Over the next five years, the Irish operation plans to build up a portfolio of research programs and collaborations with industry valued in excess of $24 million, and at full operation, it will employ 50 highly qualified researchers.
GTRI, which conducts nearly $140 million in research and development each year for industry, government and academic institutions across the world, will receive support from IDA Ireland, the agency responsible for industrial development and overseas investment in Ireland. The new institute will focus on four technology areas that mirror Ireland's research strengths — digital media, radio frequency identification (RFID), biotechnology and energy.
“Ireland is increasingly known as a world leader in innovation and for embracing technology. As Georgia Tech expands its global horizons, we seek partners who share our values and goals,” said Georgia Tech President Wayne Clough. “Thus, we are especially pleased to celebrate the formation of this forward-looking collaboration with Ireland and our Georgia Tech Research Institute. We are grateful to the government and civic leaders of Ireland who worked on this exciting initiative with us.”
The institute will work closely with Irish corporations and universities, the Georgia Tech research community and U.S. companies to provide companies on both sides of the Atlantic with industry-focused research and development that bridge the gap between academic discovery and commercial success.
Ireland's Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Micheál Martin TD, in announcing this joint initiative at a press event in Athlone, said, “Applied research institutes specialize in translational research — the integration of technologies to prove feasibility — where ideas can be proven to have commercial potential. GTRI Ireland will provide this capability and will work across multiple disciplines and in partnership with industry to bring new technological solutions to address the industry and market needs of companies in Ireland.”
Dr. Stephen E. Cross, Georgia Tech vice president and GTRI director noted, “GTRI Ireland is an integral part of GTRI's plan to develop international operations and build long-term relationships with industrial partners by providing innovative solutions through customer-focused R&D. This initiative directly supports Georgia Tech's vision to define the technological university of the 21st Century.”
To take full advantage of Ireland and GTRI's research strengths, GTRI Ireland will focus on several research areas.
The institute's digital media research will include development of a national test bed for Internet protocol television (IPTV), a fully interactive digital television service offered to subscribers via an Internet-based broadband connection. By bringing together designers and users, the institute will explore the potential applications of this emerging technology.
The research with RFID will center on authentication and identification technologies from acoustics to optics for the commercial sector. For instance, because Ireland has a thriving pharmaceutical industry, some of the institute's research will target pill-tracking accuracy, ensuring authenticity and dosage.
The institute's biotechnology research will focus primarily on medical devices for preventive and predictive medicine and manufacturing of medical devices. The institute's energy and environmental research focus will be on enabling technologies and systems models for sustainable energy alternatives, a research area of critical importance to both the United States and Ireland.
GTRI Ireland's Athlone location leaves it well situated for collaborative research with a broad range of companies and universities throughout the country. Athlone is between Dublin on the east coast and Galway on the west coast. Cork, home of the renowned Tyndall Institute, is on the southern coast. Elan Pharmaceutical and Ericsson are both headquartered in Athlone, and other major corporations have plans to come to the region.
GTRI Deputy Director Dr. David Parekh, who has been working with IDA Ireland for the past two years to bring this initiative to fruition, will have primary responsibility for developing GTRI Ireland strategy, establishing corporate alliances and selecting the right talent to ensure this endeavor is successful. He commended IDA for its commitment to innovation and effectiveness in supporting initiatives through a world-class staff of professionals in Ireland and the U.S. In describing this partnership with the country of Ireland, he remarked, “Ireland has the resources of a nation and the agility of a start-up.”
GTRI, established since 1934, has an international standing for its excellence in many areas of science and technology. It employs 1,300 people, including 600 full-time engineers and scientists, of which 73 percent hold advanced degrees.