Meet the Team… Ciara Cooney MET Technology Gateway

Ciara Cooney, Research Assistant at MET Technology Gateway

In our ‘Meet the Team’ series, we bring you a range of staff interviews from across the Technology Gateway Network.

Today we introduce Ciara Cooney, Research Assistant – Medicinal Nutrition at MET Technology Gateway. Ciara describes her role, what makes the gateway unique and the importance of MET to the West of Ireland.

Tell us a bit about MET Technology Gateway and its offering in Medicinal Nutrition and Sport?

The Medicinal Nutrition and Sport at MET can assist companies in product design and innovation in areas such as food analysis and testing, human intervention trials and product development and optimisation. The concept of medicinal nutrition encompasses functional foods and foods for health. The unique skillset of the research team at MET offer Irish industry the ability to test and modify the impact of foods on physiological and metabolic parameters enabling food companies to develop niche foods that can target particular groups in the population. Their know-how enables companies to analyse the health effects of existing products and provides a means to develop new products to target specific health goals in individuals. Additionally, MET have expertise in Sports Science, with state-of-the-art performance testing equipment and the available knowledge and technologies required to develop foods and strategies specific to athletes and those involved in sport. Some key areas include physiology, performance nutrition, psychology, plus strength and conditioning.

Describe your role within the Gateway?

As a Research Assistant within the Medicinal Nutrition and Sport team I provide support on a range of industry projects in all aspects of novel food development and Sports and Exercise products and research. I have a particular interest in human intervention trials and testing the effects of food on human health and performance. In addition I support the delivery of health and wellbeing training, and research projects. The centre is focused on applied research with translation into industry and practice to encapsulate research, education and training in the area of nutrition, metabolic health and testing, wellbeing, functional food testing/development and sport and exercise science. At its core the goal of Medicinal Nutrition and Sport is to ‘keep healthy people healthy’ and support research and development in nutritional science for health and wellbeing purposes.

What’s unique about Gateway and its presence in Galway/West?

The MET Centre provides world-class solutions for the Medtech and general manufacturing sectors, the centre develops novel technologies relevant to both clinical research and Medtech companies operating in the design application phase. By actively engaging with clinical and industry partners, the MET Centre produces both scientific knowledge and technology outputs across a range of streams including medical imaging technologies, anatomical modelling and physiological replication, data analytics and visualisation, design engineering and verification and medicinal nutrition and sport. Its presence in Galway and the West of Ireland has positively impacted local businesses and indeed with its renowned international reputation the work of dedicated researchers has been recognised with numerous awards, attracted significant funding and continues to inspire the next generation in the West of Ireland and beyond.

What are the main benefits for a company collaborating with MET and the wider Technology Gateway network?

Collaborating with MET and the wider Technology Gateway network provides companies with an opportunity to engage in research, development and innovation through shared resources and extensive knowledge. Funding supports tailored to suit a company’s stage of development and specific needs combined with advice and expertise can significantly benefit a company’s growth plan. Collaborating with researchers in Higher Education Institutions and Research Organisations enhances the potential of innovative new products and services, and result in the commercialisation and improved competitiveness of new innovations.

What is the first step/s a company should consider when considering an innovation project?

Often the first step is to implement the design thinking process to establish the specific area a company can provide a product/service to, the intended market and target population. To learn about the supports that are available to the company’s specific needs and opportunities to engage in research to develop and validate your product get in touch with the Gateway for an initial conversation or check out the website for further information.

What do you love most about your job?

The diversity of projects I get the opportunity to contribute to is an aspect of the job I thoroughly enjoy. I liaise closely with Dr. Lisa Ryan and Maria McDonagh, both experts in their field who provide a great source of mentorship and inspiration, and along with the extended MET team, I am surrounded by extensive knowledge in an environment supportive of shared learning and personal growth. Meeting new clients, discussing ideas they are passionate about is exciting and there is a sense of satisfaction as projects progress with the team at MET. I have a particular interest in nutritional science for health and wellbeing purposes and I am grateful my role allows me to explore this exciting area of research.

For more information on MET Technology Gateway, get in touch or follow on Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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