Ireland is emerging as a formidable scientific force – minister

16 Jun 2011

Investments such as the €44m ‘Principal Investigator’ (PI) programme that will support 300 new jobs over the next five years are playing a key role in Ireland’s emergence as a scientific force, the Minister for Research and Innovation Sean Sherlock, TD, said today.

Sherlock was speaking at a PI showcase that follows the announcement in early May by the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton, TD, of a range of measures to support innovation in Ireland, chief among them a €44m investment for 44 PI research teams, directly supporting close to 300 high-quality jobs over the next five years.

Detailing the plans, Sherlock said: “Spanning SFI’s research portfolio, from life sciences to ICT to energy, the PI programme has been instrumental in helping Ireland to become a formidable, emergent scientific force on the international stage in recent years.

“Traditionally, researchers supported by the PI programme over the past decade have proven to be the essential individual building blocks of the strong scientific edifice that has emerged in Ireland.”

“Through today’s showcase of some of our top scientific talent, we are seeing that next layer which will fortify and bolster both our scientific network, enhance our reputation internationally, and crucially also connect with a number of key industry partners.”

2011 PI Awards

The 2011 PI Awards will directly support close to 300 top-class researcher positions in a broad range of scientific areas, such as cancer, early diagnosis of the childhood cancer neuroblastoma, lung disease, investigation of therapeutic interventions for Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease, improved crop and plant cell productivity, graphics for gaming, resource management in data centres, advanced telecoms networks, autonomic management of smart cities, wave energy, energy conversion and storage devices.

So far, more than 20 industry partners are connected to the successful projects in some shape or form, amongst them Inercept Pharma Ltd., Pevion Biotech Ltd, Sigmoid Pharma (Ireland), Nestle, Kerry Group, Alimentary Health, Intel Labs Europe, IBM, Alcatel-Lucent/BLI, Aquamarine Power (Edinburgh), Infineon, Disney Research, ESBI, France Telecom, Howard Science (UK), and a host of others.

Highlighting the importance of showing the PI programme, director general of Science Foundation Ireland, John Travers, said: “Occasions such as this allow us to see, hear and learn a great deal more about the specific nature of research projects – how the research came about, where it is at today, and the likely economic and societal impact that it will achieve.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years