News & Events

Nano and materials science supports 14,000 jobs and half a billion euro economic impact in Ireland

An Tánaiste and Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Frances Fitzgerald TD and Minister of State for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development John Halligan TD welcome publication of AMBER Impact Assessment Report

AMBER (Advanced Materials and Bio-Engineering Research Centre), the Science Foundation Ireland-funded National Materials Science Research Centre, hosted in Trinity College Dublin, has today published its impact assessment report which details the last 10 years of nanoscience and materials science in Ireland.

This impact assessment report rigorously assesses the impact that AMBER, and its predecessor CRANN, have made to the Irish economy and wider society in the last 10 years. Working with the impact framework as defined by Science Foundation Ireland, AMBER has thoroughly interrogated research impacts across 7 key pillars – Economic and Commercial, Societal, International Engagement, Policy & Public Services, Health and Wellbeing, Environmental and Human Capacity. The report demonstrates that continued funding (under review by SFI) will allow AMBER to become one of the international centres of choice for collaborative industry research and help Ireland further its research profile in materials science and so promote Ireland as a destination for attracting hi-tec companies and inward investment. The centre has and will continue to attract leading industry and academic researchers into Ireland. AMBER’s vision is to grow and become a critical hub in the country’s innovation strategy - creating more opportunities for company spin-outs and growth.


Key Highlights of the Report include

  • Ireland ranked 1st in the world for nanoscience research and 3rd for materials science research in 2016
  • For every €1 invested, AMBER and CRANN have helped the Irish economy to grow by €5
  • AMBER and its predecessor CRANN generated over 14,000 jobs in Ireland over 10 years and during this time had a total income of €108 million generating a gross output nationwide of over €505 million
  • The institute has worked with more than 200 companies in Ireland and internationally and has received €4.4 M of industry cash in the last four years with a further €1.7M contracted
  • Over €45 million European funding has been awarded to CRANN and AMBER academics
  • Over 2,400 research papers, generating over 76,000 citations have been published by AMBER researchers– 45% of AMBER academics have taken out a patent compared to 8% of Irish academics and 6% of UK academics
  • AMBER researchers have been awarded more ERC funding than any other research centre in Ireland and Prof Valeria Nicolosi is Europe’s only 5 time ERC awardee
  • AMBER and CRANN academics are far more engaged across a broad range of knowledge exchange activities than either Irish or UK academics, including giving invited lectures, working with research consortia and engaging with industry – 79% of CRANN/AMBER academics gave invited lectures compared to 50% of Irish academics and 55% of UK academics.

Announcing the publication of the report, An Tánaiste and Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Frances Fitzgerald T.D. said: “A key part of Government’s Action Plan for Jobs is prioritising research and innovation, and ensuring that spend in this area is focused on turning good research into tangible applications, investment and jobs. The results contained in today’s report are testimony to the impressive research discoveries, significant industry collaborations, new patents and new technologies delivered by AMBER, all of which delivers real societal and economic impact, positioning Ireland as first and third internationally for nanoscience research and materials science research respectively last year. Government remains firmly committed to supporting high quality, internationally competitive research with the potential to generate jobs and support economic growth. I commend Professor Morris and all of his team on these impressive results.”

Minister of State forTraining, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development John Halligan T.D.said, “It is no exaggeration to say that a key part of Ireland’s economic recovery can be attributed to the quality of our research centres and their output. AMBER’s world-leading research has attracted and continues to attract FDI into Ireland, creating thousands of jobs and spurring growth amongst innovative domestic companies too. Leading multinationals have stated in this Impact Assessment Report that a key reason for their selecting Ireland as a base, is their work with AMBER, the quality of which is unrivalled in many areas. AMBER’s researchers are making world-first discoveries that are leading to new Irish start-ups, and helping global corporations deliver new applications in the areas of ICT, energy and medicine, among others. Government is committed to supporting centres like AMBER, through Science Foundation Ireland, and as part of our national Innovation Strategy.”

Commenting on the report, Dr Darrin Morrissey, Director of Programmes at Science Foundation Ireland said: “The report demonstrates the significant positive impact that has been made by the AMBER SFI Research Centre in Ireland over the past 10 years. AMBER, through world-leading researchers, is creating new knowledge and intellectual property. It is transferring that knowledge to industry through licensing agreements, industrial staff exchanges and spin-outs. The report highlights the impressive outputs from AMBER and demonstrates how Ireland’s research community are world-leading and making tangible impacts on our economy.”

Speaking at the launch, Professor Mick Morris, Director of AMBER, said: “We are delighted that the hard work of our researchers and staff over the last 10+ years is effectively demonstrated in this report through the significant contribution that CRANN and AMBER have made to the economic and societal wellbeing of our local, regional and national communities and through our international research. In the next decade nanoscience and materials science in Ireland will lead on the international stage and we remain committed to making a difference to the social and economic well-being of Ireland through the quality of our research and training for graduates and our engagements with businesses and communities both nationally and internationally. This report showcases the critical importance for AMBER to continue to be funded for world class research so that we can deliver, scientific, economic and societal impacts into Ireland for the benefit of the entire population.”

Domhnaill Hernon, Head of Innovation Incubation and Experiments in Arts and Technology, Nokia Bell Labs, said: “AMBER is considered as an exemplar academic collaborator across Bells Labs globally and for good reason. They stand out for their ability to engage with industry while delivering world leading scientific research. In my opinion they are a dream partner and acting as the executive sponsor I plan on growing this collaboration substantially.”

Gerardo Bertero, Senior Director at Western Digital, said: “We partner with the best expertise we can find around the globe. As such, we are proud of our association with AMBER. We have found the exchanges to be open, highly intellectual, mutually respectful and of excellent technical and scientific content.”




Notes to Editor:


Images of some of the key research highlights for AMBER are available upon request. A selection of these are listed below.


About The AMBER Impact Assessment Report

In order to develop the AMBER impact assessment report, AMBER commissioned Professor Brian Lucey, leading economist at Trinity to undertake an evaluation of the economic impacts that CRANN and AMBER have had in the last 10 years and to measure the linkages between academics and business and community. Professor Lucey used the Input-Output approach to analyse the economic and employment impacts in Ireland. His team also empirically measured the linkages between academics based at CRANN and AMBER and business and community, using a field-tested survey instrument.


For further information please contact:

Aoife Van Wolvelaere/ Claire Keane


01 678 9333 / 086 303 6161


Selection of AMBER’s Research Highlights:

  • World’s Smallest Oscar: AMBER, the Science Foundation Ireland funded materials science centre based at Trinity College Dublin, created the world’s smallest nano statuette in celebration of all the great Irish talent nominated for the Oscars. The statuette was milled using the Zeiss Orion Nanofab at AMBER. The width of the nano statuette’s head is approximately 25 nanometres or 20,000 times smaller than the width of a full stop.


  • Breakthrough Iron Supplement: Professor Anne Marie Healy, Head of the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Trinity College Dublin and Investigator with AMBER, partnered with Solvotrin Therapeutics to launch a breakthrough iron supplement Active Iron. Active Iron’s formulation doubles the amount of iron absorbed compared to normal supplements, while being so gentle on the digestive system that it can be taken on an empty stomach.


  • 22 New Magnets: An international collaboration led by Prof Stefano Sanvito, Principal Investigator at AMBER, identified 22 new magnets in a year, a rate of discovery 20 times faster than that achieved in the last 2,000 years.


  • The Building Blocks of Matter: A team of researchers from AMBER, led by Professor John Boland, Principal Investigator at AMBER, announced a breakthrough in material design – one that challenges the commonly held view on how the fundamental building blocks of matter come together to form materials. The team demonstrated that the granular building blocks in copper can never fit together perfectly, but are rotated causing an unexpected level of misalignment and surface roughness.


  • Increasing the Shelf-Life of Beer: Researchers at AMBER, partnered with world-leading brewing company SABMiller on a world-first project to increase the shelf life of bottled beer. Professor Jonathan Coleman, Principal Investigator at AMBER, and his team used nanoscience research methods to develop a new material that will prolong the shelf-life of beer in plastic bottles.


  • Launching the NION UltraSTEM 200: Professor Valeria Nicolosi, Principal Investigator at AMBER, launched the NION UltraSTEM 200. This world class tool can analyse single atoms and objects a million times smaller than a human hair using scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM), helping scientists push boundaries in fields like materials science, ICT, energy storage, pharmaceuticals, medical devices and diagnostics.


  • A New Biomaterial to Repair Damaged Knee Cartilage: New research from AMBER and RCSI found that a novel biomaterial, called ChondroColl, can repair damaged knee cartilage. This discovery led to an injured thoroughbred filly, Beyoncé, returning to competitive show jumping following implantation of this biomaterial. Pictured is Dr Tanya Levingstone, Lecturer in the School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering in DCU.


  • Ireland’s Most Powerful Microscope: The Advanced Microscopy Laboratory (AML) at AMBER, features some of the world’s most advanced microscopes allowing material to be viewed at atomic scale. Photographed is Professor Michael Morris, AMBER Director, with the NION UltraSTEM 200 - Ireland’s most powerful microscope.


  • DRIVE (Diabetes Reversing Implants with enhanced Viability and long-term Efficacy): Major EU funding for research into diabetes was announced by a group led by AMBER and RCSI. The DRIVE (Diabetes Reversing Implants with enhanced Viability and long-term Efficacy) consortium involves fourteen partners from seven European countries and received €8.9 million funding as part of Horizon 2020 – it is co-ordinated by Dr. Garry Duffy, AMBER Investigator.


  • SmartSplint: Dr. Ramesh Babu and Dr. James Doyle, researchers from AMBER, and Dr. Padraig McAuliffe and Prof. Brian O’Connell in the Dublin Dental Hospital, announced a new spin‐out company, SelfSense Technologies Ltd. The company has unveiled a novel intelligent mouth guard device called SmartSplint, which accurately records and monitors teeth grinding (bruxism) of patients and allows their dentists to help them manage the condition more effectively.



AMBER (Advanced Materials and BioEngineering Research) is a world-leading Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre, which provides a partnership between leading researchers in materials science and industry to develop new materials and devices for a range of sectors, particularly the ICT, medical devices and industrial technology sectors. The centre is hosted in Trinity College Dublin, working in collaboration with CRANN (Centre for Research on Adaptive Nanostructures and Nanodevices), the Trinity Centre for Bioengineering and with University College Cork and the Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland.