Over €42m for 14 collaborative research programmes has been allocated to third-level institutions across Ireland by the Minister for Education and Science Mary Hanafin TD.
The €42m awards are the first cycle of funding from the €300m five-year fund established by the Government.
The approved projects are aimed at enhancing collaboration between higher education institutions, improved teaching and education reform and promoting access to lifelong learning.
Twelve of the projects are led by individual institutions, while a further two involved sector-wide involvement. All seven universities, 13 institutes of technology and the Dublin Institute of Technology will be involved in a number of the projects.
Institutions will be required to produce detailed project plans with targets and milestones which will form the basis of an evaluation by the Higher Education Authority (HEA).
“The Strategic Innovation Fund is fundamentally about building world class excellence in the Irish system,” Minister Hanafin commented. “It is important therefore that we build on the experience of this initial round of funding in our approach to future rounds.”
Hanafin said that the planned call for proposals for Cycle Four of the PRTLI (Programme for Technology Research at Third Level Institutions) is due to issue very shortly as well as a further call for proposals for Science Foundation Ireland funding planned for the first half of next year.
“There is a very exciting potential now to achieve ambitious progress in the development of leading-edge third-level and fourth-level education in Ireland,” Hanafin said.
The announcement was welcomed by the Council of Directors of the Institutes of Technology. Half of the projects approved are led by institutes of technology.
The chair of the Council of Directors and director of the Institute of Art, Design and Technology Dun Laoghaire Jim Devine said: “Collaboration through imagination is what the Strategic Innovation Fund is all about.
“The fund will greatly enhance the collective efforts of all in third and fourth level and ensure that our drive to attain world-class standards is built on close cooperation between all institutions in the sector.
“Following the passing into law of the Institutes of Technology Act recently we now look forward to working closely with the HEA in the new architecture for higher education in Ireland,” Devine concluded.
By John Kennedy