NUI Galway Research on Yeast Supplements for Pig Nutrition Makes it to Finals of SFI TIDA Pitch Off Contest

The eight finalists in the Science Foundation Ireland TIDA Pitch Off at the Science Gallery Dublin. Also included in photo are Minister Damian English TD (Centre), Professor Mark Ferguson SFI (Left) and keynote guest speaker Ben Lang (Right) a serial entrepreneur and founder of Mapme. Photo: SFI.
Oct 23 2015 Posted: 15:12 IST

Commercialisation of research outputs supports further development of
novel yeast-based feed supplements for improved pig nutrition at NUI Galway

Postdoctoral research scientist, Dr Sandesh Swamidatta from the Plant and AgriBiosciences Research Centre (PABC) at NUI Galway, was one of the eight finalists that made it through to the SFI TIDA Pitch Off Final as part of Startup Gathering 2015.

The Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Technology Innovation Development Award (TIDA) Programme, competitively selected eight researchers to compete against each other as finalists in the SFI TIDA Pitch Off competition. The process involved pitching their technology and commercialisation ideas for further development support from SFI.

Dr Swamidatta’s pitch related to the development of ‘Yeast-based feed supplements for Pig Nutrition’, which he has been developing in the SFI-funded research lab of Professor Charles Spillane at NUI Galway. Funded by the SFI TIDA Programme, Dr Swamidatta and Professor Spillane are developing novel yeast-based feed supplements for improved pig nutrition.

Pig production is big business in Ireland and globally. Feed and nutrition costs are critical for profits in the pig industry with Irish pig production ranking third after beef and dairy in terms of economic value. Ireland’s pig meat export in 2014 was worth an estimated €570 million. The cost of production of pig meat at the moment is estimated at €1.60/kg of meat. The major cost of production in producing pig meat relates to feed, which accounts for approximately two third of the total production cost. Improving feed efficiency, improved mineral absorption and mineral nutrient supplementation are key areas of livestock nutrition research.

Dr Swamidatta said: “The SFI TIDA Programme was an exhilarating experience which provided an insight into the commercialisation aspect of research outputs. The SFI TIDA Pitch Off event gave an excellent platform to showcase our lab’s research and to get first-hand experience of how investors evaluate the commercial potential of a research idea.”

Professor Spillane added: “The SFI TIDA Programme is invaluable for providing the necessary support to determine whether commercially promising research findings can be further built upon to be translated into commercial products or services.”

Science Foundation Ireland provides funding for research that has the potential to improve the competitiveness of industry and enterprise in Ireland. Amongst its funding programmes, the SFI TIDA Programme provides funding for research groups to focus on an applied research project with commercial potential and provides entrepreneurship training for the researchers.

Speaking at the event, Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland said: “For over a decade Science Foundation Ireland has been investing in world-leading research. This investment is yielding results, not only in our rising global scientific rankings, but also in terms of commercialisation outputs; patents, licencing, start-ups and spin-outs. Our involvement in the Startup Gathering is allowing us to bring together researchers we have funded over the last 10 years along with some of the great national and international entrepreneurial minds. It is a great platform to foster and encourage collaborative thinking and networking.”

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