Record attendance noted at annual IPG Polymer Conference in Hodson Bay Hotel

Pictured at the recently hosted IPG Polymer Conference in the Hodson Bay Hotel were, Eimear O’Rourke, Aoife McDonnell and Declan O’Rourke of Irish Life Sciences Athlone

Pictured at the recently hosted IPG Polymer Conference in the Hodson Bay Hotel were, Eimear O’Rourke, Aoife McDonnell and Declan O’Rourke of Irish Life Sciences Athlone

A record attendance gathered in the Hodson Bay Hotel for the annual hosting of the IPG Polymer Conference recently.

A central date in the Irish polymer industry’s calendar, the Conference has been held in Athlone for more than 40 years. Athlone plays a central role in the history of the industry with polymer education and research an important offering to students at the Technical University of the Shannon and companies such as 3A Composites, DeltaQ, Irish Life Sciences Medtronic, Ross Polymer Services, Zenith Adhesives, and Rotofab based in Athlone.

Athlone native, Declan O’Rourke, of Irish Life Sciences delivered the keynote address to a record number of over 200 delegates and exhibitors. This IPG Conference is held in association with Polymer Technology Ireland (PTI ) and First Polymer Training Skillnet (FPT Skillnet ).

Mr O’Rourke detailed his successful journey as an innovator and entrepreneur in the sector which led to the establishment of family run Irish Life Sciences in 2020 at its award winning plant in Moydrum, Athlone. At the forefront of innovation and sustainability, the company specialises in custom manufacturing solutions to the life science sector exporting its products all over the world. Mr. O’Rourke was joined by speakers from Europe, the UK and a strong representation from Ireland. Attendees heard about the latest advancements in design, technology, AI, Virtual Reality, sustainability, the circular economy and innovation and how these will be needed to keep the polymer industry in Ireland at the forefront of manufacturing globally.

Speakers included Donough McGrath of Johnson & Johnson VisionCare, Chris O’Hara an I-Form & SFI funded researcher with PEM at ATU Sligo, Colin Meade of Irish Manufacturing Research, Dr. Ciara Buckley of Technical University of the Shannon (TUS ) alongside international presenters Bob Struijk of FANUC Europe, Silvio Paesano of Ewikon, Chris Caffrey of AO Recycling and Patrick Gruner of Engel Austria.

A timely panel discussion on the circular economy welcomed Neil Skeffington of Novelplast, Ian Barry of GreenTech Plastics, Dr. Romina Pezzoli of APT, Athlone and Chris Caffrey. In addition, Caitríona Mordan of the Atim Cluster launched Polymer Connect, an all-Ireland initiative funded by Intertrade Ireland to create an interactive map of the sector. Louis Goor of JL Goor and Jacqueline Tyrell of Embankment Plastics acted as session chairs for the day.

“We were delighted with the amazing turnout. With over 200 attendees from industry, research groups and academia there is a clear desire from the Polymer industry to continue to push ahead. We are fortunate to have a world class polymer sector that is at the forefront of technological developments in the medical device, automotive, packaging and manufacturing industries,” Louis Goor, chairperson of IPG, said.

“Manufacturing in Ireland is one of the high performing engines of the Irish economy with a large number of world class polymer companies going from strength to strength. This is reflected in the quality and energy on display at the Conference,” Mark McAuley, Director of Ibec’s PTI, added.

“It is wonderful to see the Irish polymer industry and the people working within our sector continue to thrive by embracing the latest advancements in technology and the circular economy. FPT Skillnet is delighted to be a conference partner highlighting these developments,” Catherine Collins, Manager of FPT Skillnet, commented.

The large attendance is testament to the growing strength of Ireland’s indigenous polymer industry. The sector is the backbone of Irish manufacturing with world-class processors, with latest figures showing that suppliers and service providers employ nearly 7,000 people across 230 businesses.


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