New North-South agreement will enable cross-border participation on SFI research programmes

22 Jan 2014

Minister Richard Bruton, TD, and Northern Ireland’s Dr Stephen Farry, MLA, have signed an agreement that will allow Queen’s University and the University of Ulster to participate as full academic partners in Science Foundation Ireland’s Investigators Programme.

The Collaboration Agreement has been signed by the Irish Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation and the Employment and Learning Minister for Northern Ireland today, and makes the Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) programme accessible to more members of Ireland’s scientific community.

“This partnership is a key stepping stone in helping Ireland maximise its potential funding opportunities under Horizon 2020,” said Prof Mark Ferguson, director-general of SFI and chief scientific adviser to the Irish Government. “It will enable Ireland’s scientific community to work together on an all-island basis, create efficiencies by reducing the duplication of research and assist in the sharing of important new knowledge. The move towards building Ireland’s international reputation is linked heavily to partnerships such as this, which offer the scientific community in Ireland promising new opportunities.”

All-island benefits

Future Human

The Investigators Programme Partnership from SFI and Northern Ireland’s Department of Employment and Learning (DEL) will support collaborative projects involving universities across the whole island of Ireland, helping them to undertake internationally peer-reviewed leading-edge discovery and fundamental research. In turn, this will reap social and economic benefits for both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

“Improving our research and development infrastructure is a key priority for both governments, and a key pillar upon which the Irish Government’s Action Plan for Jobs is built,” said Bruton.

Farry added to the announcement by revealing the DEL will make funding of stg£8.4m available over the next six years to enable Queen’s University and the University of Ulster to participate in the next two annual calls for the programme – the first of which is scheduled to take place next month.

“This is an extremely timely development, building on the success of my department’s ‘Strengthening the All-Island Research Base’ programme, while also providing real opportunity to develop new cross-border research collaborations with the potential, in the longer term, to bring further success under Horizon 2020 – the European Commission’s latest research framework programme and a major priority for both governments,” Farry added.

Elaine Burke is the editor of Silicon Republic