Massive €60.2m investment in science and tech centres

17 Dec 2008

The Irish Government, through Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), has pumped €45.7m into world-class centres for science, engineering and technology (CSETs). The investment will also see an additional €14.5m of financing provided by industry.

Three key centres will benefit from the five-year investment: the Digital Enterprise Research Institute (DERI) at National University of Ireland Galway, the Centre for Research on Adaptive Nanostructures and Nanodevices (CRANN) at Trinity College Dublin, and the Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre (APC) at University College Cork.

The Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Mary Coughan TD, said the SFI CSET programme has been designed to facilitate the creation of internationally competitive, large-scale research centres that support high-quality collaborations between higher-education institutes and industry-based researchers.

“These CSETs link researchers in partnerships across academia and industry to address crucial research questions, foster the development of new and existing Irish-based technology companies, attract industry that could make an important contribution to Ireland and its economy, and expand educational and career opportunities in science and engineering,” the Tánaiste said.

“All three centres have been playing a pivotal role in contributing to the Government’s goal of building a world-class research base in Ireland, and developing our human capital to support economic competitiveness. Today is an endorsement of this achievement to date, and marks the beginning of the next chapter for each individual researcher and their respective teams.”

Industry partners at DERI include: Nortel Networks, Cisco Systems, FISC Ireland, Storm Technology, Cyntelix Corporation and OpenLink Software.

Partners for the CRANN CSET include Hewlett-Packard and Intel, while partners at the APC CSET include GlaxoSmithKline, Alimentary Health and Teagasc.

Also attending the announcement was the Minister for Science, Technology and Innovation, Dr Jimmy Devins TD, who said: “A total of 12 distinct indigenous and multinational companies will partner with these CSETs, and SFI funding will be bolstered by these industry partners’ contribution of an additional €14.5m in the form of funding, personnel and equipment.

“The funding announced today will directly support almost 200 researchers, graduate students and others in a well-structured and wholly collaborative environment between now and 2013.” 

The director general of SFI Professor Frank Gannon said that the CSETs have led the agency’s portfolio of initiatives, which are steadily moving Ireland towards a truly knowledge-based economy.

“These CSETs have been independently verified as playing an important role in building a world-class research system in Ireland, as well as linking successfully with major multinational companies and providing an attractor for multinational investment in research in Ireland.”

Funding for the three CSETs was approved by the SFI board following a rigorous, multi-faceted assessment process.

This encompassed international scientific peer review, with 31 international experts participating in the postal review process and 28 international experts participating in the four on-site reviews.

In addition, a ‘Strategic Value to Ireland’ assessment was performed by key government agency stakeholders, including IDA Ireland, Enterprise Ireland, Forfás, the Higher Education Authority and the Health Research Board.

By John Kennedy

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