By Frances Mulraney
Taoiseach Enda Kenny officially opened the new UCD Centre for Molecular Innovation and Drug Discovery on Friday 9th September.
The new centre is the first phase of the UCD Science Centre. Upon completion, this centre will be the country’s largest capital investment in science to date.
This first phase provides scientific research space for 300 researchers, combining three areas of science; UCD Centre for Pharmaceutical Sciences, UCD Institute of Food and Health and UCD Centre for Nano medicine. The centre, covering 6,300 square metres, was funded by the Programme for Research in Third Level Institutions (PRTLI).
The total estimated cost of the three phase project is €300 million which will be provided by the Government, funds from the university and from philanthropic donations.
At the official opening, the Taoiseach spoke of the prospect of an “exciting journey of discovery” that comes with the opening of the new centre, “it will add to Ireland’s growing reputation as a new exciting frontier of scientific discovery and activity. From this centre, pioneers in their field will solve problems we didn’t even know existed only a few short years ago”.
Phase two of the project has recently received Government approval and work is due to start in the coming weeks. The second phase will consist of both refurbishment and new building components, providing 32,000 square metres of new facilities for 2,500 undergraduate and postgraduate science students and 2,000 scientific researchers. This phase is set for completion by 2013.
Commenting on the decision to give the new phase the go ahead, the Taoiseach stated that “this is the type of close collaboration between higher education and industry that we need, turning discovery into application, into jobs…strengthening Ireland.
This centre is an example of Ireland’s prioritisation of investment in science research and development.” Enda Kenny also encouraged companies in science and technology, as well the academic and science community to highlight and promote the attractiveness of a career in science and in return, “the Government will do all it can to make science and technology education more effective and attractive.” UCD President Hugh Brady also highlighted the importance of this investment into research for job creation, “The UCD Science Centre… with more than 200 industry partnerships already in place, will contribute towards job creation and national economic recovery.” Planning on the third and final phase of the UCD