A Research, Innovation and Enterprise Culture in PESS – Professor Phil Jakeman

Research is vital to the progress, enhancement and dissemination of the work undertaken by the Department of Physical Education and Sport Sciences. The Human Science Research Group contributes in areas of human metabolism, body composition, musculoskeletal adaptation and function. In an ever increasing Enterprise culture, external interest in these subject areas attracts attention from Ireland’s leading industries who seek to capitalize on the intellectual property of the Faculty and research infrastructure of the University to gain advantage in highly competitive markets, e.g. the Sports ‘Supplement’ market is estimated @ €20bn per annum turnover worldwide, increasing at 7%pa!

Innovative research in partnership with Industry is not for everyone, but does offer distinct advantages. I list 3 for consideration;

  1. advancement of the human resource and capital facility for the conduct high quality, cutting edge, innovative research, often engaging industry’s facilities located at home and abroad;
  2. provision of a near-industry experience for the appointed researchers who engage directly in the ethos of industry-based R&D, working with research managers and potential future employers;
  3. through Patent and Licensed activity, an opportunity to engage in research that is of direct benefit to UL and Ireland’s Enterprise economy.

Within the HSRG partnership research is conducted under the auspices of Food for Health Ireland (FHI), one of a network of 15 National Technology Centres (NTCs). Working within an NTC allows for collaboration with a broader network of multidisciplinary research scientists located in Industry and Ireland’s Public Research Organisations (PROs; UL is a PRO). The NTCs lead the Priority Areas for Research developed under the National Development Plan and contribute to strategies for their implementation. Working within this framework benefits the researchers current and future research goals and, within UL, the strategy for research activity in PESS.

Over the past decade PESS has benefitted substantially from collaborative, innovative research with industry. Though direct research income has been relatively modest (~€5m), working within an NTC has leveraged indirectly state of the art laboratories and capital equipment for future use by PESS Faculty, research staff and the postgraduate and undergraduate student body. Priority access to ‘ring-fenced’ Marie Curie Fellowships for the NCTs is a further addition to the ‘core’ body of research staff, i.e. postdoctoral researchers and research assistants (averaging 10 in any one year) supported by a 5y Programme Grant. Increasing the research staff enhances the research culture and offer opportunity and high-quality mentorship to postgraduate and undergraduate research trainees. Research staff and students often opt for gainful employment within that industry upon completion of the project.

PESS should be supportive of an Enterprise-based research culture as it contributes to a diverse strategy for external support of the overall research agenda. Furthermore, the network of engagement is real, with defined metrics, exactly the platform required for partnership projects within the European Framework currently defined by H2020.

Phil J roundProfessor Phil Jakeman is a professor in Exercise Physiology in the department of Physical Education & Sport Sciences at the University of Limerick.  View Phil’s profile on Research Gate or contact Phil on  phil.jakeman@ul.ie


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