Prof Mark Ferguson named co-chair of US-Ireland R&D Partnership

16 Jun 2022

Prof Mark Ferguson. Image: Conor McCabe

Prof Mark Ferguson will foster academic and professional relationships between scientific leaders in Ireland, the US and Northern Ireland.

Just months after Prof Mark Ferguson departed his role as director general of Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), he has been appointed as Ireland co-chair to the US-Ireland R&D Partnership steering group.

The partnership was established in 2006 and is based on the principles of The Good Friday Agreement. It involves the governments of the US, Ireland and Northern Ireland working together to advance scientific progress.

Ferguson will represent the Irish jurisdiction in cooperating with representatives from the other two territories. The steering group can award competitive research grants in areas ranging from cybersecurity and telecoms to energy and health.

As Ireland co-chair, Ferguson is tasked with providing strategic direction to the work of the partnership. In addition, he will work to continue building relationships with key players of the steering group, including the Irish members and the co-chairs representing the US and Northern Ireland.

He will be supported by the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, and InterTradeIreland.

Announcing Ferguson’s appointment today (16 June), Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris, TD, praised the outgoing Ireland co-chair, Feargal Ó Móráin.

The other Irish members of the US-Ireland R&D Partnership steering group are Prof Philip Nolan, Ferguson’s successor as director general of SFI; Dr Mairead O’Driscoll, chief executive of the Health Research Board; and Dr Karl Walsh, senior inspector and head of division of the research and Codex division at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

Ferguson’s role as co-chair of the Ireland jurisdiction will not be remunerated. His travel and expenses will be provided by InterTradeIreland.

In March of this year, seven US-Ireland research projects received a €9m joint investment from SFI, the National Science Foundation in the US and the Department for the Economy in Northern Ireland under the programme.

To date the partnership has raised around €121m and funded 75 projects from a combination of sources from all three jurisdictions. In Ireland, the sources for funding include SFI, the Health Research Board and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine in Ireland.

In Northern Ireland, projects from Health and Social Care R&D, in partnership with the Medical Research Council, the Department of Employment and Learning and Invest NI have all received grants.

Last year, towards the end of his tenure as director general of SFI, Ferguson sat down with Silicon Republic co-founder Ann O’Dea for a fireside chat.

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Blathnaid O’Dea was a Careers reporter at Silicon Republic until 2024.