Since Cellix's inception in March 2006, we have been fortunate enough to collaborate with some of the best scientific researchers around Europe. We couldn't have done this without the support of funding from the European Commission - namely their FP7 and Horizon 2020 programmes.
It was a great honour to be invited to a dinner celebrating the work of the President of the European Commission, H.E. Mr. Jean-Claude Juncker, to speak about the impact of the EU on Irish biotech.
The European Commission and Irish Biotech: the Cellix case
When Cellix first started selling microfluidic pumps and biochip consumables for cell-based assays in drug discovery our efforts were focused on the further development, validation and enhancement of our activities in this area. However, we recognised that in order to grow, we needed to expand our capabilities. On reflection, I think the most important outcome of our participation in these European funded programmes has been the transfer of knowledge. Through this, we acquired technical expertise in areas complementary to our existing skill-set. This enabled us to target markets outside our original scope, and thus expand our business to its current global reach.
Building on our microfluidic foundations, we have collaborated with world-class academic and industrial researchers on hugely ambitious projects with implications for the future of public health. Our collaboration with BD Biosciences worked on integrating magnetic sensors on-chip for cancer biomarkers detection. Our collaboration with Siemens for the development of a SmartPhone add-on for the detection of disease in exhaled breath.
In particular, the 'DIMID' FP7 project in which we collaborated in 2011, has added enormously to Cellix's offering. This project led to the development of our Inish Analyser Technology, a label-free cell analysis tool which is applicable across a broad number of industries: agri-biotech, food & beverage and health and personalised medicine.
The participation in this project enabled our innovative R&D team to build on our microfluidic foundations, adding an analytical measurement capability to our tool-kit which has led to a host of new ground-breaking patent applications in multiple industries.
I’m excited about where this technology can take us, including such breakthrough areas as improving gene transfection for a host of different applications.
Location, location, location
The dinner on Thursday the 21st June took place in St. Patrick's Hall in Dublin Castle, one of Ireland's greatest ceremonial rooms. It was developed in the mid-18th century as the Castle’s ballroom and remains an imposing space. In 1788, the Italian artist Vincenzo Waldré began work on the painted ceiling that survives today as the most important scheme of its type in Ireland. The hall was for many years the meeting place of the Knights of St Patrick, Ireland’s chivalric order of knights whose flags still adorn its walls.
Over the years its significant history has been added to, as it has been used to entertain some of Ireland’s most prominent State visitors; including John F. Kennedy, Princess Grace of Monaco and Queen Elizabeth II. Since 1938 it has been the setting for the State’s most significant ceremonial occasion, the inauguration of the President of Ireland.
Opening Speeches - Research Funding & Brexit
The speeches were given by Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and President Juncker.
Notably, Mr. Varadkar in his speech offered a special welcome to those, like myself, whose organisations had received the support of the European Commission in the form of Horizon 2020 grants. He praised those who were 'searching for new forms of knowledge' and said he was encouraged by the Commissions' proposal to increase spending on R&D in the next 5 years - as am I.
Before the dinner itself, the Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar gave a speech; briefly, he gave a background on the history of the building, welcomed President Juncker. He spoke about the unity of the European Union and reflected on the role of the European Commission in Ireland. Brexit remained a headline topic and Mr. Varadkar spoke about the challenges this posed.
President Juncker, in his speech, spoke about his relationship with Ireland and his own professional life. During his speech, he said that Ireland was 'more engaged' then some of the founding members of the European Union... A bold statement indeed!
Overall it was an engaging night, and a great opportunity to meet those involved in grants which support early R&D innovations in Cellix.
A video of the speeches from The Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar T.D. and H.E Mr. Jean-Claude Juncker may be viewed here.