New €52m science centre in the pipeline for UL

Anne Sheridan

Reporter:

Anne Sheridan

A MAJOR investment in a €52m centre for science and engineering in the University of Limerick is set to be announced.

A MAJOR investment in a €52m centre for science and engineering in the University of Limerick is set to be announced.

The campus has now lodged a planning application with Limerick County Council to build a new four storey academic building in the university’s “science zone.”

The new building is to be the centre for the €52m Bernal project, which will enhance research in UL in applied sciences and engineering.

The building will include a 200 seat lecture theatre and will connect with the nearby Material and Surface Science Building via a two storey pedestrian link bridge.

The project will see the creation of 10 new professorships in UL, which will be filled through a “competitive process guided by a worldwide professionally directed search”.

The ten new professors will be recruited on a phased basis with four recruited this year, a further three by September 2013 and the final three by September 2014.

UL is currently advertising vacancies for four chairs under the Bernal project - in biomedical engineering, fluid mechanics, biopharmaceutical engineering, and microsopy and engineering.

Each of the positions carries a salary of up to €146,000 per annum. The closing date for the positions is this November and December.

“The objective is to generate for UL a world-wide reputation in applied sciences and engineering,” states a report from UL, which they say will contribute “to the develop-ment of industry and wealth in Ireland and the Shannon region.”

Incubation units will facilitate the development of high potential start-up companies based on the products and processes developed in the Bernal facility.

The building itself will be designed and built as a working prototype in energy efficiency.

The university will make available to each appointee a start up package to the value of €500,000.

The Bernal Project is named in honour of John Desmond Bernal, a native of Tipperary, whose legacy was the development of crystallography as a central tool across the sciences. He died in London 
in 1973.

A decision is due from the council on the application by this December 2.

This March a three-storey extension was granted for the MSSI building, while an expansion to the UL Arena has also been scheduled.