Early-career researchers get €24.6m IRC funding boost

11 Sep 2023

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A total of 294 awards have been issued from the IRC, supporting projects in a range of disciplines to help the next generation of Irish researchers.

The Irish Research Council (IRC) has awarded €24.6m to hundreds of early-career researchers across the country, to support various new projects.

A total of 294 awards will be funded, including 214 postgraduate scholarships and 80 postdoctoral fellowships. The funding is being issued through the IRC’s flagship Government of Ireland programmes.

The researchers hail from a range of disciplines, with some project examples including repurposing sustainable carbon fibre for a circular economy, meeting the needs in school of children from in-care backgrounds, and using genomic tools to monitor particular fish species in Irish Atlantic waters.

The funding was announced by Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris, TD, who said the awards will support the development of “the next generation of excellent researchers in Ireland”.

“This investment recognises the huge potential of Ireland’s early-career researchers, and it will support the development of skills, knowledge and innovation that will meet the challenges of today and the future,” Harris said.

Listed among the funded researchers is PhD researcher Lorraine Hayman from University of Galway, who is investigating technology-facilitated sexual violence and emergent violence against women. PhD candidate Ali Taha Ozdemir from South East Technological University is investigating how ‘nanodecoys’ can be used to neutralise Covid-19 in the respiratory system.

IRC director Peter Brown said early-career researchers represent “the future of research and innovation” and that the new funding will support a “vibrant knowledge ecosystem”.

“This ecosystem will benefit and shape the further development of enterprise, public policy and our higher education institutions,” Brown said. “The awards encompass funding across all disciplines – from the arts, humanities and social sciences to science, technology, engineering and maths.”

In 2024, the functions and activities of the IRC will be merged with Science Foundation Ireland, in a new Research and Innovation funding agency that will be led by Prof Philip Nolan, the SFI’s current director general.

The upcoming agency is part of Ireland’s national strategy to boost research and innovation. This strategy – Impact 2030 – was launched last year by Minister Harris and aims to build a more inclusive and engaged research and innovation system in Ireland.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic