What you need to know about SFI’s €100m postgrad training programme

2 Aug 2018

Image: William Potter/Shutterstock

SFI is now providing training for postgraduates in a number of key areas in order to create ‘outstanding future leaders’.

Research centres will be gearing up for 5 September this year as the deadline for full proposals closes on the inaugural Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Centres for Research Training programme.

Launched at the end of May, the €100m programme aims to provide funding and training for postgraduate students in a specific set of areas deemed hugely important now and for the years to come.

Last June, a number of centres would have declared their interest in taking part in the programme.

Operating on a thematic basis, the programme is focused on the broad area of data and ICT skills for the future, encompassing both software- and hardware-based ICT.

As part of its 80pc commitment to funding, SFI will support four centres, with each of them expected to take up to 30 students every year. The remaining 20pc will need to be raised by each of the centres through industry or philanthropy, for example.

With this additional support, SFI aims to have at least 600 postgraduates complete the programme over the next eight years.

Key topics

This year’s cohort of successful applicants will be focused on the following topics:

  • future networks, communications and internet of things
  • data analytics, management, security, privacy, robotics and artificial intelligence
  • digital platforms, content and applications; and augmented reality and virtual reality

Given that it’s the inaugural year for the programme, there is still a lot to be determined as time goes on.

However, SFI said that it has a number of key objectives, including improving gender balance in postgraduate training and equipping them for ever-evolving workplaces.

Industry placements

Over the course of the training programme, postgraduate students will work alongside academic research teams and will also get a placement in industry.

Speaking last month, SFI director general Prof Mark Ferguson said: “These technologies are applicable to almost everything else in commerce, in agriculture, in industry, in the retail world – there is no area of human endeavour which is not impacted by them.”

On the topic of industrial collaboration with the programme, Ferguson added: “Some things are best taught by industry – entrepreneurship, for example. The application of data to different industries, for example. Google and Facebook and so on know more about this than anyone in academic institution.”

For those centres that submitted their expression of interest in June, it is now a matter of preparing for the 5 September full proposal deadline.

With interviews set to take place in November, the eventual selected centres will enter the academic year of 2019-2020.

Updated, 3.51pm, 2 August 2018: This article was updated to reflect that centres have applied to take part, not postgraduate students.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic