IRCSET passes €60m mark for research funds awarded

27 Nov 2006

More than 1,000 researchers in Ireland have now received early-stage funding totalling €60m, the Irish Research Council for Science, Engineering and Technology (IRCSET) revealed today.

The agency marked the occasion at its fourth national research symposium in Dublin by presenting a certificate to the Minister for Education and Science Mary Hanafin TD. The document contains the names and research disciplines of more than 1,000 people to whom IRCSET has disbursed money to support their research work in Irish institutions.

IRCSET has reached the €60m mark in four years since it was set up under the auspices of the Department of Education and Science. The agency runs competitive calls for applicants every year, selecting the highest-performing candidates to be funded through a range of master’s and doctoral scholarships and post-doctoral research fellowships. The funding is awarded via IRCSET’s Embark Initiative scheme and the National Development Plan.

In addition, the agency runs an Enterprise Partnership Scheme which co-funds researchers in conjunction with industrial research interests. The main emphasis of all of these programmes is on exploratory research aimed at yielding new concepts, findings and innovations within Ireland.

More than 100 postdoctoral researchers and final-year PhD scholars attended today’s symposium to review trends in research career formation and how the Irish system needs to be developed to benefit career professionals within the science, engineering and technology fields. Delegates included award recipients funded by IRCSET’s research funding programmes as well as other funding bodies.

Workshops scheduled for the event included discussions on whether there is a feast or famine in the career paths available for researchers within industry, how to evolve Ireland’s research infrastructure in order to populate the knowledge economy, measures for developing research skills and researcher mobility in Ireland and the institutional, financial and other factors influencing research career formation in Ireland. According to IRCSET, findings from the gathering are to be submitted to policy makers shortly and they will also be published on the agency’s website soon.

By Gordon Smith