€5.3m to fund Irish research tackling societal challenges

26 Oct 2021

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So far €11.8m has been invested through the IRC’s Coalesce programme, which focuses on addressing societal challenges from the pandemic to the climate crisis.

The Irish Research Council (IRC) has announced a total investment of €5.3m in research that aims to tackle national and global societal challenges.

The Collaborative Alliances for Societal Challenges (Coalesce) programme covers projects focusing on a range of societal issues, from the effects of the climate crisis on migration to public health information during Covid-19.

Overall, 21 projects have been funded under the Coalesce programme’s 2020 call. These include a project aiming to improve children’s maths education through digital games, a programme to boost digital engagement among older people, and an examination of digital engagement among rural citizens.

“The investment announced today is vital in finding innovative ways to address major issues in society – such as the Covid-19 pandemic, the housing crisis and climate change,” said Peter Brown, director of the IRC.

“The Coalesce fund provides a unique opportunity for researchers to break down barriers between different disciplines and collaborate with peers across different sectors and departments, which will deliver results that will benefit every facet of Irish society.”

The Department of Foreign Affairs has contributed €2.1m towards the fund this year. Projects funded under its Better World strand include a collaborative project between Irish and African researchers who will study bioscientific advances on cereal crops to adapt them to tropical regions. It also includes a collaborative renewable energy research project between an IT Sligo researcher and a Malawian research team.

This is the third year of the Coalesce funding cycle. So far, the IRC and its funding partners have invested €11.8m into societal research. Since its formation, the research fund has run in partnership with various Government departments and agencies, including the Central Statistics Office, the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, Geological Survey Ireland, the National Parks and Wildlife Service and Met Éireann.

“The call for 2021 will see even more Government departments partnering with the fund, which will open up new areas for research,” Brown said.

The 2021 call for Coalesce is currently open until 23 November. This year’s funding partners include the Department of Foreign Affairs and the National Monuments Service of the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage in partnership with the Heritage Council.

Further details about the Coalesce call for 2021 are available on the IRC’s website.

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Blathnaid O’Dea is Careers reporter at Silicon Republic

editorial@siliconrepublic.com