The EU’s €75bn scientific funding initiative Horizon 2020 (H2020) has seen Ireland secure more than €336m since it began, a rate of €2.4m per week.
The times are good in scientific research, with H2020 – which runs, obviously, until 2020 – ploughing billions of euros into international projects throughout the EU.
Despite its relatively small size, Ireland’s take of €2.4m per week has been driven by particularly large areas of research, such as the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions, which supports mobility and training of researchers, from which we have secured €59.7m.
Elsewhere, the ICT ‘Leadership in Enabling and Industrial Technologies’ field has brought in €59.6m. Higher-education institutes accounted for €198m, or 59pc of the total, with €74m going towards SMEs. Companies in general have secured €104m.
In the first two full years of H2020, Ireland secured €282m, a figure dwarfed by the bigger EU states of Germany (€2.8bn), the UK (€2.45bn) and France (€1.6bn).
Dr Imelda Lambkin, the national director for H2020, said she is “delighted” at the success shown by the country’s research teams, claiming it shows “real evidence” of the talent and abilities throughout Ireland.
Lambkin said she and her team are “working to influence the 2018-2020 programmes” so that Irish researchers and research bodies can access greater funding, while those using the services of the national support “tend to double their chances of success in the programme”.
Success is an interesting word to use.
The application rate in Ireland grew from 1,948 in 2014 to 2,456 in 2015, reflecting a common theme throughout the EU. For example, the company applying the most is the UK, rather ironically.
There, the numbers swelled from 12,388 applications in 2014, to 18,566 in 2016. Denmark (12,560-16,969), Italy (13,349-12,606), Spain (12,038-15,811) and France (9,615-11,219) round out the top five.
On average, the success rate from application to acceptance is around one in nine which, as Science Business reported earlier this week, is a sharp fall from the average odds of one in five in the preceding Framework Programme 7, which ran between 2007 and 2013.
“Horizon 2020 would have needed €41.6bn more in the first two years to fund all proposals deemed excellent by independent evaluators,” according to the recently published two-year review.
Irish applications have a particularly high success rate, though. Ranking 13th in 2014, applications for Irish projects (at 13.1pc) were more likely than all but two other countries (Austria and Belgium). Ireland’s rise up the rankings came as everybody’s success rate fell.
Science Foundation Ireland (SFI)’s Prof Mark Ferguson congratulated all successful researchers, winning funding amid stiff competition.
“This demonstrates the strength and quality of our research base and leverages the national funding, as well as providing access to facilities and expertise that Ireland – a small country – needs,” he said.
“I encourage those in industry and academia who have not yet applied to consider doing so, and to take advantage of the considerable national supports from agencies such as Enterprise Ireland and SFI.
“I encourage everyone to be ambitious and develop research proposals of scale and excellence, which will have a significant impact into Ireland’s economy and society.”