European Innovation Convention - December 2011

Irish antibacterial tiles selected as star EU-funded research and innovation project at Innovation Convention Expo

Irish technology that kills MRSA and other disease-causing microbes played a star role at the first European Innovation Convention which took place in Brussels on 5th & 6th December 2011. The light-activated antibacterial surface coating has been developed by a team at the Centre for Research in Engineering Surface Technology in Dublin Institute of Technology, working with ceramic manufacturer VitrA Ireland with funding from Enterprise Ireland. It was one of 50 star projects selected from over 450 entries to participate in Europe’s premier innovation event. The Innovation Convention 2011 was led by the President of the European Commission, Mr. José Manuel Barroso and Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, EU Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science. The Irish exhibit featured tiles manufactured by VitrA Ireland with an antibacterial coating that kills pathogens when exposed to light.  The technology was converted from a research project into a commercial product when Robert Hickson, MD of VitrA Ireland, wanted to develop the photocatalytic technology for use on ceramics.

Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn meets Crest Centre Director at the first EU Innovation Convention.

Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn meets Crest Centre Director at the first EU Innovation Convention.

Through the Enterprise Ireland funded Innovation Partnership programme, the CREST team overcame the challenges of using indoor light to activate the coating, and ensuring the coating could be fired in the kiln and maintain its sterilising properties.  VitrA is now licensing the technology from DIT on an exclusive basis for use on its products worldwide. Tests carried out by DIT and by the accredited lab Airmid Health Group in Dublin have found the technology is 99.99 per cent efficient at killing the hospital ‘superbug’ MRSA, E. coli and the fungus that causes athlete’s foot. “We believe it will also be active against other bacteria and micro-organisms,” says Dr. Suresh Pillai, Senior R&D Manager at CREST.  He described how the technology could have applications in the healthcare setting, swimming pools, schools and gyms. “VitrA is known for excellence in design and technology, and we are very active in commercial projects such as airports and hotels, leisure centres and hospitals around the world,” says Hickson. “This global reach gives us an excellent platform to launch new products and technologies.”   According to Dr. Martin Lyes, Enterprise Ireland, “this partnership between VitrA Ireland and the research team at CREST DIT shows how EU funding for networking in science brought together leading companies, research centres and universities, enhancing Europe’s innovation and creating jobs”. The photocatalytic technology was exhibited at stand number 14 under the banner PHONASUM at the Innovation Convention in the meeting square, Brussels on December 5th and 6th 2011.