Waterford News

TSSG Dr Michael BarrosTECHNOLOGY experts in Waterford are bidding to tackle one of the most aggressive forms of brain cancer using miniature, implantable devices.

Brain cancer survival and recovery rates could be significantly improved as telecoms experts at Waterford Institute of Technology’s Telecommunications, Software and Systems Group (TSSG) partner with universities world-wide on the potentially life-changing GLADIATOR project.

Together, they’re developing miniature devices that interface with engineered cells, bio-nanomachines, to detect as well as treat the cancer from inside the brain.  

Engineering cells into bio-nanomachines involves the use of synthetic biology to design specific functions in living cells, and in this particular case, the secretion of molecules that can be used to detect and treat the tumour.

The devices, when implanted in the brain, will be controlled from an external wireless device that will collect information, which should enable a futuristic automated theranostic (therapeutic + diagnostic) solution for treating Glioblastoma Multiforme, a type of brain cancer that can kill within weeks.

GLADIATOR is a paradigm shift in Oncology, with the introduction of "bio-nano-machine diagnostics". It will stimulate the greater use of the "Internet of Bio-Nano Things", leading to technological and clinical developments with high socioeconomic impact, Principal Investigator and Director of Research at TSSG, Dr. Sasitharan Balasubramaniam predicts.

TSSG’s specific role in GLADIATOR is to look at the molecular communications side of matters. Molecular Communications is the emerging discipline of exploring the transmission of encoded messages via engineered cells. This will allow artificial networks of bio-nanomachines to communicate, and when externally controlled, can be used to not only extract information on the status of the cancer but also manipulate it to affect its progression, Dr. Balasubramaniam said.

“The comprehensive theranostic solution for brain malignancies is set to be a significant medical breakthrough. Currently, highly complex malignancies such as brain tumours have a very grim prognosis, despite recent progress in their treatment and management,” he added.

GLADIATOR’s mission is to radically and dramatically change cancer monitoring and therapy, TSSG’s Dr. Michael Barros said. “Surgery for this form of brain cancer is very traumatic as the cancer is embedded deep within the brain. GLADIATOR aims to use wireless signals to control implanted bio-nanomachine engineered cells within the brain for sensing and treatment, and to send signals back to an external computing device that will determine the next best course of action.

 “Moreover, the innovative biological and nanotechnology-based innovations, development methods, computational and analytical tools advanced through GLADIATOR, are expected to have significant economic impact, since they can enter into particular market segments as indicated by global market projections and underlying drivers,” Dr. Barros explained.

“The project team will also examine the circuitry design, the power and communication requirements etc of these tiny implantable devices and how to interface to the bio-nanomachines that will interact with the cancer,” Dr Barros added.

The €6 million Horizon 2020-funded project will substantially improve patient prognosis and prolong their survival, the GLADIATOR partners say.

GLADIATOR is already underway and the 4 year-long project sees ICT experts at TSSG working with six other vibrant academic centres across Cyprus (University of Cyprus), Finland (University of Oulu), Norway (Norwegian University of Science and Technology), Germany (Fraunhofer Institute for Biomedical Engineering), USA (Michigan State Univerity) and Japan (Osaka University) and a nano-biotechnology SME EPOS-IASIS from Cyprus.

 It is expected that the project’s results will substantially improve patient prognosis and prolong survival by minimising recurrences and reducing drug toxicity. Extended life expectancy and productivity, shorter hospitalisations, and less personnel and caregiver involvement will also have a positive effect on the already overstrained Health Care Systems.

Specifically, GLADIATOR will provide, for the first time, a working prototype of a complete, autonomous and clinically applicable, nanonetwork-based, theranostic system based on the conceptual framework of Externally Controllable Molecular Communications (ECMC), Dr Barros revealed.

TSSG is a renowned hub of innovation in ICT and its role in molecular communications and health in particular, has been growing since 2008.

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SCHOOLS, family groups, gardening enthusiasts and lovers of nature and the great outdoors across Waterford city and county will revel in the extended programme of events as part of this year’s Bealtaine Living Earth Festival. It runs from May 18 to 26 right across the south east.

 The massive free schedule includes over 50 events for adults, schools and all the family and celebrates biodiversity in the region, Calmast’s Dr Cordula Weiss said.

 Calmast, Waterford Institute of Technology’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths Engagement Centre, is proud to have even more events in Carlow and Wexford this year as the event grows in popularity, she said. She commended Waterford City and County Council for its invaluable support.

 The Waterford programme kicks off on May 18 at 11am and again at 1pm with Gardening for Pollinators: All things Buzzing and Beautiful, an event at the WIT West Campus at Carriganore run by Horticulture at WIT to celebrate Fascination of Plants Day. Sea Gardener, Marie Power, will lead a biodiversity walk at Garrarus Strand the same day between 11am and 12 noon.

On May 19, Dr Weiss presents Science on the Farm, an event at Copper Coast Mini Farm from 2pm. It is already fully booked. The same afternoon, the Lafcadio Hearn Japanese Gardens in Tramore are open for a free event from 3pm to 4pm.

The Dusk Chorus – the Songs of Nightfall at Curraghmore Estate from 7pm to 9pm is set to be a massive hit. Eric Dempsey, Bird Expert, Birds Ireland, and Author will bring enthusiasts on a dusk walk. It was one of the most keenly supported events on last year’s programme.

Met Eireann’s Head of Forecasting, Evelyn Cusask, will be a big draw. She is part of the Climate Change debate at City Hall from 3pm to 5pm on May 21. She will also be at The Munster Bar later that evening from 8pm for Ireland’s Weather – A journey through Time.

Stunning Mount Congreve is the venue on May 22, International Day of Biological Diversity, for Mount Congreve Unseen with Paddy Dwan, naturalist, author and photographer. It runs from 6.30pm to 8pm.

Bunmahon is the place to be earlier that day as the Copper Coast Geopark Centre hosts an open day with a talk about the changing landscape of Waterford from 11am to 12.30.

Other events on the programme for Waterford include Treasures of Earth workshop at Garter Lane Gallery on May 23 at 6pm with gemmologist, Tina Keating. The Secret of the Gardens at Mount Congreve runs from 6pm on May 24 and Robbie Galvin, Geologist will be at the Copper Coast Geological Walk from 7pm for a walk that takes attendees through hundreds of millions of years of the earth’s history.

One of the final Waterford events is at Annestown Beach on the coast road between Tramore and Dungarvan on May 26 from 2pm to 4.30pm. It is with geologist, Tina Keating and will be a great medium through which to learn about the geological history of the area.   

For more, log on to www.livingearth.ie and check out Facebook for the events: @BealtaineBiodiversity

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Local Enterprise Office Waterford is inviting clients in the craft and design sector to apply for a subsidised place at next year’s Showcase Creative Expo in the RDS.

Running for over forty years, Showcase has an impressive track record in attracting Ireland’s most talented makers and designers, along with buyers from over twenty countries.

Working in partnership with the Design and Crafts Council of Ireland, the 31 Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) around the country set up a dedicated area within Showcase every year - the Local Enterprise Showcase - enabling up to 100 designers, manufacturers and craftspeople to sell directly to international buyers.

A Waterford business with experience of Showcase is Monkey Cups, an Irish-designed barista standard reusable coffee cup. Established by Mailo Power and debuted at Showcase 2019, Monkey Cups is an advocate of reducing single-use plastic waste in creating a fun, reusable alternative.

Mailo said the experience was hugely beneficial to her company as it afforded her the opportunity to meet with national and international buyers.

“As we were a new brand it was hugely important to have face-to-face discussions with customers, build relationships and get feedback on our product, pricing and our packaging. Showcase Ireland 2019 helped us meet lots of interesting retailers face-to-face rather than by email or over the phone.”

“The advantage of attending Showcase Ireland is you get really focused on getting your product ready for market. The mentoring we received by LEO Waterford prior to the show was invaluable. We hit the ground running and were able to comfortably and confidently talk to people knowing what information decision-makers required in advance. We were fully supported every step of the way by LEO and we’ll certainly be back for 2020!”

Richie Walsh, Head of Enterprise at LEO Waterford said that Showcase is an invaluable stepping stone to any craft-maker or designer getting an audience with potential clients. “With buyers from Ireland, Europe, the USA and Asia, Showcase is truly established as the must-see trade event. For any one in the fashion, jewellery, home or giftware business the four-day event offers exposure to new international markets.”

“Not only will their place be subsidised by the LEO, in advance of the expo the successful applicant will also avail of training and briefing days in October in order to help them perfect their pitch and give them the tools, advice and insights to take full advantage of this fantastic opportunity.”

In addition, LEO Waterford is looking to map the craft sector in Waterford in order to gauge the future development needs of craft businesses in Waterford. A short questionnaire is available on line and all responses will contribute to the development of further support services to the craft industry.

LEO Waterford is now inviting any clients interested in availing of one of three stands to complete an Expression of Interest form and return to LEO Waterford by 12pm, Tuesday, May 22nd. Forms are available online at www.localenterprise.ie/Waterford/ or from LEO Waterford offices at 35, The Mall, Waterford or the Civic Offices in Dungarvan.

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Daniel Connolly, Abby Wood and Conor Walsh named as Waterford’s best young entrepreneurs

As part of a nationwide search launched by Minister Heather Humphreys and Minister Pat Breen to find Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneurs (IBYE) for 2019, the winners and runners-up were announced at an awards ceremony in Dooley’s Hotel, hosted by Local Enterprise Office Waterford on Friday, April 26th.

Chosen from 18 local finalists the winners and runners-up share a €50,000 investment fund and will go on to represent Waterford at the Regional Finals in June.

MC for the evening’s proceedings was WLRfm’s Damien Tiernan.

The ‘Best New Idea’ category, with a €7,000 investment fund, was won by WIT student Daniel Connolly, founder of Defynd. Defynd is an online platform which will allow students to search words and terms and receive a list of academic definitions from published literature. The runner-up award and €3,000 investment fund went to Bryan Hurley of Needy Insights.

Abby Wood was the winner of the ‘Best Start-Up Business’ category and a €15,000 investment fund. Abby’s business, The Content Lab, works with digital agencies to create innovative content strategies. Ivan Kiersey of Freezin’ Friesian was runner-up and received a €5,000 investment fund.

Meanwhile, the title of ‘Best Established Business’, with an investment fund of €15,000, went to Conor Walsh of Encon. For over ten years in the retrofit market, Encon has been delivering retrofit homes, making them energy efficient and affordable to run. The runner-up in this category, scooping a €5,000 investment fund was Stephen Lynch of Momentum Events.

Conor was also awarded the title of Waterford’s ‘Best Young Entrepreneur’.

Richie Walsh, Head of Enterprise with Local Enterprise Office Waterford said, “Waterford boasts a wealth of young, innovative entrepreneurs. The Waterford IBYE competition highlighted the drive these finalists have, and they are destined to make a huge positive impact in their respective industries.”

“IBYE is about discovering local potential and nurturing that talent through financial supports, mentoring, training and networking opportunities. What stood out for LEO Waterford throughout the whole process, was the determination and unyielding belief that these young entrepreneurs have in themselves and their businesses. It’s heartening to see, as these are the individuals who will contribute significantly to the local economy.”

In the lead up to the county final, each finalist received targeted business supports through Local Enterprise Office Waterford. They attended an intensive Business Boot Camp, receiving mentoring and support on their business plans, pitch training as well as getting the opportunity to connect with other young entrepreneurs from the city and country.

IBYE, now in its fifth year, is a nationwide youth enterprise initiative to help 18-to-35 year olds with an innovative business idea, new start-up or established business. In 2019, 1,644 young entrepreneurs entered IBYE, which is an initiative of the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation and supported by Enterprise Ireland and local authorities.

The county winners from Waterford will now progress to the regional finals. In all, 24 national finalists will be selected at regional finals across the country to compete for the overall title of “Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur.”

At the IBYE national final on Sunday 15th September, which takes place at Google’s European Headquarters in Dublin, a €100,000 investment fund will be awarded to winners.

Further details on the competition and supports available to young entrepreneurs are available through www.localenterprise.ie and www.ibye.ie .

Pieta House Darkness Into Light

This May, hundreds of thousands of people around the world will get together to walk from the darkness of night into the light of morning to help us in the global fight against suicide and self-harm.   

Symbolically the walk represents the therapeutic counselling journey. It sparks conversation about the importance of mental health and wellbeing in all our lives. The entry fees raised around the world allow Pieta House and our international charity partners to continue to deliver our vital services.

Join us on May 11. Let’s walk together for a brighter future.

For 2019 we’ve streamlined registration, created a suite of registration how-to videos, and participants have the option of a wearing a complimentary 2019 DIL t-shirt or re-wearing tee’s from other years they may have tucked away in the wardrobe.

Every participant and donation makes a huge difference to Pieta House services.

€13 = Keeps the lights on for a day at one of our 15 centres.

€31 = Three calls into our 24/7 nationwide helpline.

€53 = An initial assessment to set a person in crisis on the road to recovery.

€102 = The first session of a dedicated therapy programme.

€251 = Starts off our Resilience Academy programme for a class of students.

€500 = A Suicide Bereavement Liaison Officer supporting a family in their home.

Register online today for Darkness Into Light 11 May 2019 www.darknessintolight.ie

WIT SciFestPost primary students from schools across the south east and beyond will be showing off their scientific knowledge at the regional SciFest STEM fair which will be taking place at Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) on Wednesday, 1st May 2019.

Scifest is a regional science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) competition for secondary schools that takes place across Ireland every year. Scifest is an all-inclusive, all-island science initiative which fosters active, collaborative and inquiry-based learning among second-level students. Scifest@WIT is one of the many initiatives run by Calmast, WIT's STEM Outreach centre.

About 90 projects have been entered with more than 200 participants coming from 20 different post-primary schools in counties Waterford, Wexford, Kilkenny, Tipperary, Wicklow and Cork have entered the competition.

There are 26 projects from County Waterford: Ard Scoil na Mara Tramore (6), C.B.S. Mount Sion Waterford (10), Gael Colaiste Waterford (5), Our Lady of Mercy Secondary School Waterford (1), Scoil na mBraithre Dungarvan (3), St Augustine’s College Dungarvan (1). An example of what Waterford has to offer includes:

  • Cervical Check and the HPV Vaccine - Information, Opinion and Fake News
  • Does the blue light emitted from mobile phones have harmful effects?
  • Is out of date make-up harmful?
  • Pollinator alternative
  • Virtual Reality Technology and its Impact on Future Learning
  • Coffee Addiction
  • How long does UV light take to react under different kinds of sunscreen

Martin ShanahanA firm favourite on the culinary calendar, the West Waterford Festival of Food takes place from Friday, April 26th to Sunday, April 28th.

With an impressive line up of workshops, markets and demos, Local Enterprise Office Waterford in its continuing support of food producers, is delighted to sponsor two exciting events throughout the weekend.

On Friday, April 26th, renowned seafood chef and owner of the award-winning Fishy Fishy Restaurant & Cafe in Kinsale, Martin Shanahan, will prepare lunch using the finest fresh local seafood, showcasing the bounty of the area.

On Sunday, from 11am to 4pm Food the Waterford Way will give visitors to the festival the chance to not only meet with a whole host of food producers, but to chat with them about their amazing food experiences. There will be a series of free food demonstrations as producers and restaurateurs showcase the best of local produce.

Richie Walsh, Head of Enterprise Local Enterprise Office Waterford emphasised the importance of supporting local food producers. “Food producers are the backbone of our community and it is crucial that we continue to back them.”

“Waterford has a wealth of daring and passionate people working day in, day out to keep the spotlight on good quality, fresh, and tasty food. From beer brewers and blaa bakers to coffee roasters and artisan producers, events such as the West Waterford Festival of Food are a great platform to showcase their wares to the region and further afield.”

“In supporting these two great events we are delighted to lend our support the local producers who have put Waterford on the national and international food map.”

Local Enterprise Office Waterford provides access to a full range of business supports for start-up and established businesses within the food industry and programmes such as the Enterprising Food series and the Food Academy are an integral part of LEO’s business support services.

If your food business in pre-start, start-up or established business phase and would like to find out more about what business support services are available from LEO Waterford visit www.localenterprise.ie/Waterford/

 

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