‘WINSS’ of €2.6 million for science careers in Ireland and Wales Job Sustainability Programme

A €2.6 million project to develop and sustain jobs in the sector at the interface between chemistry and life sciences has been announced. Funded under the Ireland Wales 2007-2013 INTERREG IVA programme and managed in Wales by Bangor University’s School of Chemistry. The “Wales Ireland Network for Scientific Skills” (WINSS) will assist companies that work across chemistry, life sciences and material sciences. The project will provide a range of specialist skills training to develop the expertise needed by the sector.

Running until December 2014, the project will assist the small but fast-growing industrial sector which creates new and innovative products and services across a range of areas, including drug delivery, medical devices, biotransformation and biosensors.  

Deputy Minister for European Programmes, Alun Davies AM, said: “Access to a strong research base and highly skilled professionals is a crucial factor in the growth and success of these companies. I am pleased this EU-backed initiative will help secure a highly quality workforce, enabling companies to drive forward R&D activities, stimulating future regional growth and attracting new investment to the cross border region.”

These are industry sectors which are developing rapidly and are is already represented by a number of small companies in the region.  A crucial factor in the growth and success of these companies is the ability to source or maintain a highly skilled workforce. This enables companies to grow and also acts as a catalyst to further investment and inward movement from other companies- who are also keen to appoint staff with the correct specialist skills and expertise.

Working with Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT)’s Pharmaceutical and Molecular Biotechnology Research Centre (PMBRC) Bangor University’s School of Chemistry will provide a range of specialist training at different levels.

Companies already in the region have welcomed the new project:

John Bostock, Director of Elysium Projects in Bangor said “As we grow, the training of our staff in the latest scientific methods will be critical for a company such as ours, working primarily in the research and development area.”  Elysium is working to develop new approaches to the control and detection of infections, and have a particular interest in MRSA.

The research project will be jointly lead by Dr. Peter McLoughlin at WIT and Dr Hongyun Tai at Bangor University. Their 30-strong WINSS research team will develop and deliver scientific and generic training programmes across the two regions.  Four of 11 new jobs created will come to Bangor University.

Dr Tai said: “We will address the demand for professionals with transferable skills and ‘real world’ experience that are essential in the job market.”

Dr Tai added that the project would also generate cross border economic activity by creating a strong applied research base in the human and animal health sectors in both regions.

“The advanced training programme combines industry experience and academic expertise to deliver scientific training courses for those working in the life sciences sector.  It provides a chance for people to enhance their current skills and broaden their career opportunities. It will be ‘industry-informed’ and adapt quickly to changing industry needs.”                          

“The programme will develop scientific skills through laboratory-based research and provide employees with valuable, hands-on experience. It will provide trainees with the experience to fill high-end positions such as R&D development scientists, process analytical technologists and drug research scientists,” she added..

Access to a strong research base and highly skilled professionals is a key consideration for all companies, from the small local company to the multinational. It is pivotal to securing current R&D activities as well as stimulating future regional growth and attracting new investment to the region.

Publication date: 14 December 2011