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The training network hosted events showcasing Waterford and SETU as leaders in pharmaceutical research and development, and also a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions Open Day

On March 14 – 16 2023 the ORBITAL project, a European innovative training network, coordinated by the Ocular Therapeutics Research Group of the PMBRC in the South East Technological University (SETU), brought together a cohort of academic and industry representatives to celebrate three years of ocular therapeutics research.

The ORBITAL project, which was granted over €4 million in 2019, seeks to develop novel treatment options for people suffering from age related ocular diseases, including diabetic retinopathy and age related macular degeneration.

Building relationships with pharmaceutical industry

The conference spanned three days, with members from 11 countries traveling to the sunny south east to share the latest research in ocular drug delivery technology and to build further relationships with pharmaceutical industry members in the local area.

“The purpose of this conference was two-fold. First, it was to celebrate the incredible work of our research cohort, the students and their successes. Second, it was to showcase Waterford and SETU as global leaders in access to pharmaceutical industry partners, like Bausch+Lomb, TEVA, and Sanofi, among others,” said Project Manager, Tess Ames.

“Overall, ORBITAL as a training network has a responsibility to connect our researchers to industry and academic partners that can continue to advance this critical research,” added Dr Laurence Fitzhenry, Project Coordinator. “There is no better place than Waterford to host such an event, as our long standing global and local relationships have established this region and city as leaders in this area.”

Commenting on the importance of such collaboration, Prof Peter McLoughlin, Head of Science and Computing at SETU in Waterford said, “This event once again demonstrates that SETU is the connecting force between research activity and industry. We are always working to develop stronger, more robust relationships locally and internationally, and this event exemplifies that.”

Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions Open Day

In addition, the ORBITAL project also hosted a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) Open Day. This included various presentations on funding schemes within Horizon Europe and the MSCAs, giving researchers of all levels training on subjects such as: how to find funding sources; what makes a successful application; and how to manage projects once they are successfully funded.

As one participant explained: “I didn’t think a post-doc was where I wanted to go next, but after hearing Dr Rebecca Power discuss her MSCA Global Fellowship, I think perhaps it’s an opportunity I need to look further into.”

This event was funded in part by the Growth Hub at SETU. Housed in the School of Business in Waterford and led by Dr Margaret Tynan, Growth Hub aims to motivate, support and develop student entrepreneurial potential. Growth Hub facilitates a range of entrepreneurial activities such as student mentoring, guest speaker talks, and interactive workshops while also supporting entrepreneurial projects through a range of entrepreneurship education bursaries. Growth Hub is a HCI, pillar 3 funded collaborative project between TU Dublin and SETU in Waterford, which commenced in 2021 with funding for 4 years.

Overall, 160 people attended the various events across the three days, hosted at SETU, WorkLab, Mount Congreve, and online.

This project also received funding from the Research Office at SETU, and the School of Science and Computing. Thank to all of our funders for their continued support.