BEACON, Bioeconomy SFI Research Centre

The modern world is dependent upon fossil resources to produce everyday items that we consume.  Since these resources are finite and depleting, it is essential to develop alternative technologies based on renewable biological resources.  The future economy must use biological resources sustainably to produce valuable goods, such as bioactive molecules, chemical building blocks, plastics, fuels, and energy.  This future economic activity is referred to as the bioeconomy.   In Ireland, the agri-food and marine sectors produce high volumes of residues during food production.  The conversion of these residues to higher value products will create new business opportunities.  New value chains will allow these industries to diversify and add value to the sector, increase resource efficiency and complementing food production activities.  80% of agri-food companies are in rural Ireland; thus, the bioeconomy will be a key driver to stimulate rural and agricultural redevelopment.   The BEACON SFI Research Centre addresses multiple scientific, technological and social challenges to convert this vision into reality.  

Lead Institution:  University College Dublin

Director: Prof Kevin O’Connor, University College Dublin

Prof Kevin O’Connor is shaping the European Bioeconomy Strategy through his chairmanship of the Scientific Committee for the €3.7bn PPP (Bio Based Industries). He has been at the forefront of national developments and was instrumental in securing EU Model Demonstrator Region (MDR) status for the Southeast, drawing together stakeholders from industry, academia and policy-makers from Tipperary County Council. He is a champion for the step-change a bioeconomy can deliver to the Irish economy and society.  He is a PI on EU projects researching synthetic biology (P4SB) and biobased products (SYNPOL). Consequently, he is very strongly networked with leading industries, academic institutions and policy makers in the bioeconomy.  He is the recipient of Nova UCD Innovation award 2016.   

Academic Partner Institutions: Trinity College Dublin, University of Limerick, NUI Galway, Teagasc

Co-PIs:

Prof Eoin Casey, University College Dublin

Prof Nicholas Holden, University College Dublin

Prof Torres Sweeney, University College Dublin

Prof Pat Guiry, University College Dublin

Prof John O’Doherty, University College Dublin

Prof Iouri Gun’ko, Trinity College Dublin