Plans for €52m science centre at University of Limerick

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.

Amid a number of developments coming onstream, 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 Institute building via a two storey pedestrian link bridge. The Bernal 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 10 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 carry 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 development 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, whose legacy was the development of crystallography as a central tool across the sciences. Born in Tipperary in 1901, he died in London in 1973.

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

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