An architectural impression of how the new €5m research building will look.

An architectural impression of how the new €5m research building will look.

The first sod on a new 1,056m² four-storey research building at Waterford Institute of Technology’s West Campus at Carriganore was turned by Minister Martin Cullen last Friday.

The €5million development designed by Devereux Architects is being built by BAM Construction and represents the next phase of expansion at the site where much of the Institute’s fourth-level research, development and innovation activity is now concentrated.

Funded by the Higher Education Authority (HEA), the building is set for completion in 2011. It will be clearly visible from the Waterford City Bypass and is being developed to the northwest of the ArcLabs Research and Innovation Centre.

With a maritime design, it will overlook the nearby River Suir and accommodate offices and meeting rooms for postgraduate and postdoctoral researchers as well as general office and laboratory space.

Mr Cullen said such projects are crucial to the Government’s “‘smart economy’ agenda”, adding: “Going back to my own time as Minister of State at the Department of Finance a decade ago when the land-bank here at Carriganore was acquired for Waterford Institute of Technology, I had always been convinced that the Institute would have – as it now does – one of the finest higher education campuses in the country.”

He said that, following on from the refurbishment of Carriganore House, the development of ArcLabs and the National Biodiversity Data Centre, this marked “another milestone in the rollout of the terrific vision that exists for this location where excellent sports facilities are also nearing completion.”

WIT chairman Redmond O’Donoghue said that in this the Institute’s 40th year the additional space to be provided by this latest campus expansion will allow further growth of its Telecommunications Software Systems Group (TSSG) which has won €40m in national and international research funding for 85 projects over the last five years alone.

Specifically, the building will facilitate TSSG work on globally significant HEA-funded research where they are partnering with NUI Maynooth and University of Limerick on the ‘Future Internet’.

Dr Willie Donnelly, WIT’s Head of Research and director and co-founder of TSSG, enthused: “Our research has enabled us to successfully create a mobile services cluster of high potential start-ups where almost 200 sustainable direct and indirect jobs have been created.

“Our research team continues to successfully compete for funding at a national and international level with the additional facilities now being provided with HEA support set to allow us grow further in the years ahead.”

The project team for the new building also includes JODA Engineering Consultants; Michael Punch & Partners Consulting Engineers and Brendan Murray & Associates Quantity Surveyors.