Meet the Team … Liam Lewis – CAPPA Technology Gateway

Liam Lewis, Technology Gateway Manager

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

Introducing Liam Lewis, Technology Gateway Manager in CAPPA in Cork Institute of Technology. CAPPA is part of our Irish Food Tech cluster.

Tell us a bit about the CAPPA Technology Gateway?

Our Gateway uses Photonics, light and light based sensors and systems for investigative research. We have approximately 20 full time staff, all with doctorate level qualifications and 10 PhD students in our group. While the Gateway work is dedicated to applied and industry led research we also have a section of our staff that carry out fundamental research. We feel this is important as it helps generate the next phase of optical techniques and insight to allow us to solve future applied projects. We’ve worked with over 100 companies in the last 10 years, SME’s MnC’s and startups in such diverse areas as food and beverage, medical device and pharmaceutical manufacture.

Describe your role?

As Gateway manager it’s my role to engage closely with our current and new clients to ensure that they are satisfied with our collaborations. The role is very diverse and challenging but always interesting. For new clients I try to ensure that prospective companies that we might work with get a full picture of our capabilities and are made aware of the funding schemes and resources that are available to them for potential collaborators. I also have regular team meeting to discuss progress on projects and to examine new opportunity areas for the group.

What’s unique about Gateway and its presence in the Region? 

The CAPPA gateway is the only gateway that solely uses light based technologies for its research purposes. In addition photonics is cross thematic when means we can work with a diverse range of clients and personnel. Cork has a very dense and diverse range of industries in Ringaskiddy and Little Island all of which can, and many of whom have, benefited from working with CAPPA on different projects. Also CIT has a reputation of working with local industry and as such companies are very keen to stay engaged with the CIT ecosystem.

What are the main benefits for a company collaborating with CAPPA?

Any company collaborating with CAPPA first and foremost gets a very dedicated and experienced set of researchers to engage with. This means that through close co-operation we will be very well placed to propose new solutions and technologies to the client company. Having completed over 250 industrial engagements our team is also very strongly aware of the commercial and time sensitive aspects to many of the projects we engage in. This experience allows us to work efficiently with and on behalf of the client and provide a quality service to them.

How can you help a company prepare for an innovation project?

Our approach is generally the same for all our initial engagements. We ask the client company to outline is as much detail the issue that they want to investigate. This is important for us to get an overall view of the problem statement. We then work through the potential solutions with the client outlining different options that might be available as well as discussing the required resources for same. We also then indicate what possible funding mechanisms the company could utilise in order to execute the project.

What can they expect working with the Gateway? 

All of the 15 gateways are highly experienced with a wide range of skills and expertise available. Gateway teams will be dedicated and communicative throughout the project work and will strive to work efficiently and accurately to solve the issues at hand. In addition gateways have very broad range of contacts in other industrial and research spaces. This can be beneficial if looking for an additional collaborative partner for a large project or an end user to gauge usability. The gateways work primarily on a “customer first” basis which means they can generally introduce the client to an appropriate partner even when an individual set of gateway expertise may not be directly relevant. This is also indicated in the many testimonials that CAPPA and the gateway network has received in general during its operation over the years and the level of company retention that the gateways have.

What’s the one piece of advice you would give to a company considering an innovation project?

There are perhaps a few considerations that should always be addressed. Firstly be as open re the issue to be solved as possible, more detail is always better and gateway staff operate very discretely. Be open to all types of solutions initially and trust the gateway staff to have your best interests at heart. Personally I believe that collaboration is the key to solving many problems.

What do you love most about your job?

I think the diversity is the most satisfying aspect of my job. Every day presents a new challenge and you are presented with some really tricky but very absorbing issues to solve. It’s also very satisfying when we have completed a successful project with a client and they have complimented us on our work. I also get to work with an excellent group of researchers and find that we learn very regularly from one another. If there is one thing I can say is that my job is never boring.

More information

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