MiCRA technologies have been developed and deployed in food chain quality control, rapid bacteria testing, electronic enzyme profiling while chemical sensors can address residues, contaminants, antibiotics, mycotoxins quantification. Electronic strip and meter technologies for portable ELISA applications have been applied to rapid food allergy testing (gluten, peanut immunosensors), shelf life/stability testing, flavour electroanalysis, poultry industry water contamination testing, food spoilage, bee hive health (pheromones detection), coliforms in dairy products (whey, cheese and milk).


According to Bord Bia, the agri-food and drink sector accounts for almost 11% of Ireland’s exports and 8.4% of total employment. As a food exporting nation, maximising productivity and quality are paramount. Quality control within the food and agricultural sectors globally and nationally impacts directly upon the health of Ireland’s citizens. Significant commercial opportunities in milk and dairy quality assurance are evident and there are proven market needs for screening technologies in on-site milk testing applications (microbial load, contaminants). This theme also contributes to one of the key actions in Innovation 2020 “The sustainable development of the agri-food sector and the optimisation of its contribution to national economic development and the natural environment is a key national goal” while the Building Ireland’s Smart Economy framework document builds on the strengths in the Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Sectors.

Current methods of microbial detection are often time-consuming, labour intensive culture plate techniques. The sensing technologies developed by MiCRA can be tailored to allow producers to rapidly monitor ingredients before, during and after processing; allowing inefficiencies and issues affecting quality to be identified and rectified quickly. As an example, the DPTC project described above has huge buy-in from a wide range of Irish dairy companies.


As Ireland is a major food producer, there is no shortage of indigenous firms who understand the benefits of value added innovation. The team at MiCRA have successfully engaged with many individual companies, co-operatives and associations over the previous Gateway programme, with proven links and relationships with the sector.
Many processors have already embraced basic in-line sensor systems (e.g. temperature, pH, turbidity, etc.), therefore some infrastructure is already in place, facilitating the addition of newly developed “add-on” monitoring systems.
Demand for improved quality from regulators, consumers and downstream processors is another factor that will drive the need for enhanced sensing technologies.