HEA, SFI invest €20m in university R&D


16 Aug 2004

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The Higher Education Authority (HEA) and Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) are investing up to €20m in a joint initiative aimed at boosting research facilities across Irish universities.

The two organisations are committing €4.5m annually to 2008 in the project, known as the IReL Initiative, to fund improved access to a wide range of electronic journals.

Dr Don Thornhill, HEA chairman, said the HEA/SFI partnership initiative would be a major support to Irish researchers. “It is a further step towards creating an internationally competitive research infrastructure in our universities. The HEA is delighted to work with SFI in funding this initiative. We would like to acknowledge the substantial financial contribution made through SFI to purchasing access to scientific and technological journals during the first four years of this project.” The HEA will, on a phased basis, take over full funding for this initiative at the end of year four.

Dr William Harris, director general of SFI, said that access by researchers to electronic journals is a vital element of the infrastructure required to attract, recruit and retain leading researchers in Ireland. It is recognised standard practice in major research-driven countries.

“Providing researchers with access to a comprehensive range of electronic journals is fundamental to enabling Irish-based researchers to compete at the top level,” he said. “This initiative provides researchers working in Ireland with the tools that they need to do their job.”

The Librarians Group of the Conference of Heads of Irish Universities (CHIU), is co-ordinating the joint initiative. It is believed that significant economies of scale will be secured through centralised negotiations, administration and purchasing of the resources.

The first phase of the project will provide comprehensive online access to science and technology titles. The HEA will fund access to humanities and social sciences journals by the end of 2004.

By Brian Skelly