News & Events


Phase 1 of this strong, long-term industry–academic collaborative partnership was completed in July 2020, Phase 2 has recently begun

The DPTC (Dairy Processing Technology Centre) has been established as a centre of excellence for dairy processing research and innovation. The Centre will help to fuel growth in the Irish dairy sector by performing research focused on cost-efficient processing, facilitating a step-change in environmental sustainability and creating, validating and commercializing a pipeline of science and technology-based manufacturing platforms for dairy ingredients. The foundation of the DPTC is a strong, long-term industry–academic collaborative partnership that will develop, build and translate the knowledge and capabilities in dairy processing that are needed today and for the long-term growth development of the sector.

The Irish dairy industry is a global leader in the production of nutritious, sustainable dairy products and ingredients, supporting over 60,000 jobs, producing enough dairy products to feed almost 40 million people across 5 continents. The value of those exports has doubled from €2bn to €4bn over the last 5 years since the abolition of EU milk production quotas.

In supporting the Irish dairy processors with this planned growth in production, the Dairy Processing Technology Centre (DPTC) was established in 2015, and is a major national, multi-institutional, interdisciplinary, Enterprise Ireland (EI)-funded Technology Centre. Being a major partner in the DPTC, the core UCC expertise base deployed and developed in the centre over the past 5 years focused on dairy chemistry, ingredient development, powder engineering, novel processing technology evaluation and application of quality-by-design approaches to dairy processing.

The Principal Investigators were Dr Seamus O’Mahony and Prof Alan Kelly from the School of Food and Nutritional Sciences and Dr Kevin Cronin and Dr Maria de Sousa Gallagher from the School of Engineering, with support from the UCC Food Institute. These UCC academic staff collectively supervised and mentored thirteen dedicated postgraduate research students, research assistants and postdoctoral researchers in Phase 1 of the centre. Working at the interface between academia and industry provided these students and researchers with a unique, value-added experience and involvement in DPTC projects has served as a very important springboard to employment for such postgraduate research students and staff.

 Indeed, the UCC-based DPTC-funded students and researchers, on completion, have secured employment not just with the DPTC industry partners (e.g., Glanbia and Kerry), but also with international food and beverage companies (e.g., Nestle, Unilever and Fairlife in Switzerland, UK and US, respectively), in addition to academic positions (e.g., Lincoln University, UK) – serving to grow our international alumni reach.

While scientifically underpinning the growth and development of the Irish dairy industry as a primary objective, involvement in DPTC, in addition to supporting development of internal and external collaborative links, has been important in supporting advancement of the strategic dairy research agenda at UCC, providing access to leveraged external funding from EI and the European Union, through the EI Capital Equipment Fund and the Marie Curie CareerFIT Postdoctoral Fellowship programme. Dr Seamus O’Mahony and Prof Alan Kelly were successful in four applications for Marie Curie CareerFIT Postdoctoral Fellowships, totalling almost €1m, enabling development of novel research projects with four DPTC industry partners.

Involvement in DPTC has provided UCC staff with an additional opportunity to connect with dairy and food science alumni across the country, and indeed globally, and with the initial 5-year Phase 1 of DPTC completed in July 2020, Phase 2 has recently begun, promising to be an exciting adventure over the next 5 years.

My Career: Marie Cronin, Chartered Accountant

Name: Marie Cronin 

Lives: Newmarket, Co.Cork 

Job title: Chartered Accountant, working in James Byrne & Co. with offices in Mallow and Blackpool and Dungarvan.

Education background: I studied Marketing at Limerick Institute of Technology but I then realised accounting was the path I wanted to take so I studied to become a Chartered Accountant and I recently qualified as a Chartered Tax Advisor. I studied at Griffith College in Cork City and they were absolutely fantastic. I couldn’t recommend them enough. My sister also completed her ACCA accountancy exams in Griffith College and found them brilliant.

Hobbies: As a mum to five boys and living on a farm, my life is pretty hectic but I love the outdoor life and spending lots of time outside on the farm and with family.

Describe your job in five words: Teamwork, progression, flexibility, learning and rewarding.

Describe yourself in five words: Mother, enthusiastic, hardworking, persistent and honest.

Personality needed for this kind of work? Although it may not seem obvious, working in an accountancy practice is a team effort so you need to work well with others. It’s also important that you’re a well organised person and you need to be good at planning. Of course, you need to be good with numbers and open to constantly learning and updating your skills.

How long are you doing this job? I joined the team at James Byrne & Co. this year but I have been working as an accountant for 16 years in total, taking a career break in between to raise our five children.

How did you get this job? Following a career break to raise my family, I knew I wanted to return and luckily, I read about UCC’s Rejuvenate Programme for female ‘returners’ which is run in conjunction with Taste 4 Success Skillnet. I was hesitant to even start as I wasn’t sure if it would be for me and to be honest, this was down to confidence and being away from the scene for a number of years. Rejuvenate was the best thing I could have ever done and it really is a fantastic programme. I couldn’t recommend it enough. I was joined by women from a variety of careers and backgrounds on the programme. When you take a career break, you do lose confidence and Rejuvenate really helps to build that confidence back up and to learn and update your skills in preparation for returning to the workforce. Many organisations do not see the opportunity that ‘Returners’ bring to the workforce. ‘Returners’ bring along so many additional skills and Rejuvenate has helped us to highlight this. While completing the Rejuvenate programme, we were encouraged by our trainers Caroline Seacy and Joanne Fearon of UCC to explore engaging with recruitment agencies and heard from some really interesting guest speakers. I wouldn’t have even considered this before and this led me to connect with Marguerite Brahim of CPL. Marguerite was absolutely amazing and was a huge support, I really can’t thank her enough. Before my first interview, Marguerite even met me that morning, offering support and advice. As mentioned, I am currently working with James Byrne & Co.which has been great, James and his daughter Fiona have been hugely supportive and very understanding. It really does make all the difference. I work in a very encouraging environment and look forward to the future ahead.

Do you need particular qualifications or experience? Yes, you need to complete your ACA qualification to become a Chartered Accountant.

Describe a day at work: My workday starts at 8.30am and first things first is to check my emails, plan for the day ahead and then prepare accounts and liaising with the team throughout the day. I’m very lucky to have flexibility so I finish at 2.30pm and then back to family life and everything that goes with that. Busy is all I know but we make it work.

How many hours do you work a week? I work 30 hours a week.

What do you wear to work? Smart casual is my go-to look.

Is your industry male or female dominated? I don’t think it’s male or female dominated, it’s a nice balance which is great.

Does this affect you in any particular way? No, it creates a nice environment having a balance between male and female.

Is your job stressful? How? Rate it on a scale of 1-10: It varies, some days can be stressful and some not. When you work with a great team, this makes all the difference. Everyone supports one another which is important.

Do you work with others or on your own? I work with others, teamwork is important in our job and everyone works together towards the finished result.

When do you plan to retire or give up working? Definitely not for a few years to come. It’s great to be back now that my children are older.

Best bits: The team spirit and working with great people.

Worst bits: Completing timesheets is my least favourite task.

Advice to those who want your job? I advise those interested to find a college that suits your needs and that works for you in order to get the most out of your qualification. As I mentioned, I found Griffith College fantastic. It’s also important to find a practice that is supportive and encouraging and learn as much as you can every day. 

Any other comments? For anyone looking to return to work after a career break, I encourage you to look into Rejuvenate and discover how it can help you on your return to the workforce. ‘Returners’ have so much to offer employers and it’s important we highlight this.

AEDIL delivers an extensive study entitled “Mapping Skills Needs and Supply in the Dairy Sector”

Dairy is one of Ireland’s and indeed Europe’s most important food sectors, with the European Union being the world’s largest dairy producer, at over 25% of total world milk production. The development of the sector is dependent on the recruitment and development of the next generation of enthusiastic and capable dairy professionals. However, the knowledge base of skills needs and available education for the sector is evolving and is poorly understood. To remedy this, the Association of European Dairy Industry Learning (AEDIL), with UCC as an Irish collaborator, delivered an extensive study entitled “Mapping Skills Needs and Supply in the Dairy Sector”. The study was undertaken over a 3 year period, across 14 countries, and engaging 157 organisations, and looked at the education supply for the Dairy sector as well as a gap analysis.

Building on this work, UCC has engaged with the Irish dairy industry to better understand and identify the challenges facing skills and talent development for the sector. Dairy science has been a fundamental part of UCC’s research and education focus since the 1920s, and UCC continues to be a leading support for the sector, providing qualified graduates and post-graduates and also with resources such as the Food Industry Training Unit (FITU) which supports part-time training and continuous professional development activities.

Over the summer months, a team from UCC Food Institute and the School of Food & Nutritional Sciences have been engaging with companies across Ireland’s dairy sector, including indigenous and multinational businesses, to learn about their experiences and challenges with nurturing new talent and succession planning. In addition, the team has been building on feedback from our extensive Alumni community to understand career paths and choices.

A third of UCC Food Science students enter the Dairy sector on graduation, but many others are choosing career paths in the wider global Food sector, with factors such as career progression, lifelong training opportunities and sector profile affecting sectoral attraction.

The team recently presented their initial findings to the Dairy Industries Ireland HR committee, and are developing their project contributions for the next phase of the AEDIL project.

'A Better Whey of Life' with IWC 2020

This year, the 9th International Whey Conference (IWC2020) goes virtual for the first time!

The IWC is a unique forum which brings together everyone involved in whey processing, from around the world, for an interactive dialogue on the most relevant aspects of whey production, processing and applications.

The conference will provide a platform to exchange knowledge and experiences between the whey business community and scientists worldwide.

A series of three Webinars will take place on Friday 13th Nov, 20th Nov and 4th Dec.

For further information and to register, please click on IWC 2020

The Food Institute

Room 354 A-D, Food Science and Technology Building, College Road, University College Cork ,