77 Irish research projects receive funding to tackle societal issues

17 Jan 2022

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Funding has been awarded to projects collaborating with civil society organisations, Government departments and agencies.

The Irish Research Council (IRC) has announced funding for 77 projects that are focused on tackling societal challenges, representing a total investment of almost €1m.

The awards are part of the New Foundations scheme, which brings researchers and community and voluntary organisations together for knowledge sharing and collaboration.

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris TD said this is “another record number of projects being supported by the Irish Research Council under this programme”. Last year, 76 projects were supported under the New Foundations scheme.

Projects to receive funding under this latest call are focused on a variety of societal issues, including gender-based abuse, eating disorders, homelessness, north-south reconciliation and the environment. The majority (55 projects) are funded by the IRC to enhance research partnerships with civic society organisations, while 22 projects are funded by Government departments and agencies.

Some of the funded research projects are:

  • Using immersive technology as a tool for advocacy and self-expression for people experiencing homelessness, led by Conn Holohan of NUI Galway who will work with Galway Simon Community
  • Exploring Irish female journalists’ experiences with hostility and abuse via social networks, by Dublin City University’s Dawn Wheatley and the National Women’s Council
  • Examining gender-based abuse, by Limerick IT’s Lisa O’Rourke Scott who will work with Haven Horizons
  • Examining sociocultural factors that inform effective pro-cycling policy, by University College Cork’s Eileen Hogan and the Cork Environmental Forum
  • Understanding the challenges society faces with respect to body image and eating disorders, by University College Dublin’s Sarah Cooney and Bodywhys

“The 55 research partnerships with community and voluntary groups will have an invaluable impact – bringing new insights and evidence and allowing these organisations to have an even bigger impact on those they are trying to reach, especially the most vulnerable and marginalised in our society,” Harris said.

“The community and voluntary sector plays a critical role in Irish life and will continue to do so. As these projects get underway, they support enhancement of the services this sector provides, while also providing excellent partnership opportunities for our researchers.”

Speaking of the other 22 projects, IRC director Peter Brown said the organisation is “delighted” to renew ongoing partnerships with Government departments and agencies.

“This form of collaboration provides excellent opportunities for researchers to contribute to evidence-based policymaking, resulting in better outcomes for society and citizens in the face of many national and global challenges.”

More than 200 community, voluntary and charity organisations have engaged in IRC funding programmes since 2015, during which time it has supported 362 partnerships between civic society organisations and researchers, representing a total investment of more than €9.9m.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic