UCD and UC Davis Announce New Innovator Fellowship Opportunity for PhD Students

14th December 2021

Posted In: FYI

University College Dublin (UCD) and the University of California, Davis (UC Davis) recently announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) establishing a new International Innovator Fellowship programme at the UC Davis Innovation Institute for Food and Health (IIFH).

IIFH is a premier innovation institute focused on working with academic and industry partners to incorporate metabolic design into the foods and beverages that consumers enjoy every day allowing them to live happier, healthier, longer lives.

The International Innovator Fellowship will enable UCD graduate students to experience the food and health innovation taking place at UC Davis along with the entrepreneurship ecosystem in San Francisco through an immersive residency programme as part of their PhD studies.

Professor Dolores O’Riordan, Vice-President for Global Engagement, UCD, said, “The development of the International Innovator Fellowship demonstrates the value of our existing links to strengthen connections with California-based research and investors for future collaboration. This initiative is timely with the current heightened awareness of diet, health and pandemic recovery that has led to innovations to address today’s societal challenges.”

This year’s pilot International Innovator Fellowship will provide a part-funded opportunity for a UCD PhD student to travel to California, for a 6-month period, during which they will have the opportunity to carry out research in a UC Davis laboratory and complete a 3-month residency at a venture capital (VC) firm in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The successful student is Róisín O’Sullivan (pictured) who is pursuing her PhD in the UCD School of Agriculture and Food Science. Róisín is originally from County Kilkenny and her research focuses on the authentication of milk and dairy ingredients using stable isotope ratio analysis. The Fellowship programme will provide Róisín with an opportunity for experiential learning in food-ag-health-tech and an immersive VC opportunity. This experience will develop the business potential of strong research programmes, in readiness for transitioning ideas out of the lab and into the marketplace.

Professor Orla Feely, Vice-President for Research, Innovation, and Impact, UCD, said, “The agreement represents a very exciting extension of the lasting partnership between UC Davis and UCD. We already have well-established connections and collaborations, particularly in the areas of agriculture, food, and health, which both universities spearhead globally. Innovation is a priority for UC Davis and UCD, as it is for Ireland and the US in general. Today’s agreement reflects this and will provide the fellow with an outstanding insight into the role of venture funding in one of the most innovative regions of the world.”

The long-standing partnership between the two global academic institutions provides industry exposure and expert insights to leading food and health graduate researchers. It also provides potential for Principal Investigators (PIs) to develop stronger links and collaborative relationships between labs at UC Davis and UCD, while investors gain deeper technical insights into new portfolio directions.