SFI invests €42m in three new research centres


1 May 2003

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Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) is investing €42m in the creation of three world-class Centres for Science, Engineering and Technology (CSET) that will be located in Dublin, Galway and Cork. The centres will specialise in a variety of areas ranging from curing heart disease, developing drugs of the future and developing the next generation of the internet.

At the NUI in Galway, SFI will be investing €12m in a CSET focused on information and communications technology, at the heart of which will be the development of semantic web technologies, intuitive interfaces and systems that will be at the core of the next generation of the world wide web. Some 20pc of the cost of the project will be supported by Hewlett-Packard, which will also provide support in the form of key experts.

In Dublin, a CSET based at the Royal College of Surgeons will specialise in creating technologies and proteins that can successfully treat diseases of the heart. Approximately €13.5m will be invested over five years, with 20pc support from Servier, Protagen and Allegro Technologies.

The largest investment will take place at a CSET based at University College Cork, where some €16.5m will be invested into researching new drug treatments and pharmaceutical products for applications such as Crohn’s disease and irritable bowel syndrome. Approximately, 20pc of the investment will be supported by pharmaceutical giant Proctor & Gamble.

The CSET awards bring to €150m invested by SFI since 2001. The awards were made following a competition by 23 applicants, which were rigorously reviewed by international experts.

Making the €42m announcement, Tanáiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Mary Harney TD, says: “These are the most significant grants SFI has made to date in building Ireland’s new knowledge-based economy. They create global strategic value for Ireland by embedding industrial research efforts leveraged with academic talent, that will generate new ideas and products, train the research talent of the 21st century and produce the research and development from which high-wage economies around the world have grown.”

SFI says that it is planning to invest aggressively in more CSET centres, with a second call for proposals issued earlier this year. It is understood that at least 37 scientists have formally indicated that they would submit proposals.

The director general of SFI, Dr William Harris, says: “The SFI has focused such considerable resources on these awards because building top-class research teams between academia and industry is one of the most important steps any country can take in building a lasting indigenous research base and generating ideas, products, and jobs based on knowledge. More importantly, our future depends on the harnessing of ideas and the creativity of talented researchers in Ireland. I am excited by the talent and ideas supported by these three initial CSETs.”

By John Kennedy