As part of MTU Innovation and Enterprise month, the Innovation and Enterprise Office presented the Inaugural MTU Invention of Year Award, which took place on March 19, 2021. The purpose of this award is to acknowledge and recognise the work and effort that staff have put into their invention declarations during 2020. The MTU Innovation and Enterprise Office also wish to raise awareness of the invention disclosure process and the importance of developing new and novel research with IP and commercial potential.

MTU President, Professor Maggie Cusack presented the award after adjudication by two external judges – Dr. Declan Weldon from TCD and Dr. Paul Dillion from UL. The Centre for Advanced Photonics and Process Analysis (CAPPA) was announced as the winner during the virtual event, for the portable ELISA reader developed by Dr Chinna Devarapu. All Invention Disclosure Forms (IDFs) that were submitted to the Research Office in Kerry and the Innovation and Enterprise Office in Cork in 2020 were included for evaluation. There was 18 nominees on the day from different research centres across MTU.

Current commercially available ELISA (Enzymelinked immunosorbent assay) plate readers consist of bulky monochromators, complex optics and moving parts in order to facilitate multiple tests. Thus, they are very expensive and cannot be easily moved from a centralised lab oratory due to their size. Moreover, current ELISA devices read each well in a microplate sequentially resulting in long analysis times which does not permit real-time analysis. Researchers in CAPPA have developed a novel multimode and portable ELISA plate reader. The team have replaced the conventional parts of the reader (Light source, Light Detection Unit and Light Delivery and Collection System) with novel optical parts that don’t require any moving parts and which are compact, as small as a matchbox, thanks to recent advances in photonic devices. Due to these advantages, the size of the overall ELISA plate reader is shrunk to the size of a modern smartphone. Thus, these ELISA plate readers can be handheld, low-cost, light weight and contains no moving parts, thus making them robust for both Point of Care (POC) and industrial usage. The team has also developed a method to read all 96 well-plates in real-time, thereby dramatically reducing the analysis time. The CAPPA solution is low-cost, compact, low-power consuming, requires little maintenance, and operates in real-time.

This project involved Dr Chinna Devarapu, Dr William Whelan – Curtain and Dr Liam Lewis. Dr Chinna Deverapu received the prestigious MTU Invention of the Year trophy at the virtual event after his presentation. You can learn more about the current projects and research activities at CAPPA here and more about the ELISA project here.