How did Science Foundation Ireland fare in 2017? The figures are in

18 Jul 2018

Cover of the SFI annual report for 2017. Image: Jason Clarke

Science Foundation Ireland has revealed its figures for 2017, showing a major increase in public engagement with researchers.

Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) has launched its annual report for 2017, which shows that the Government invested a total of €173m during the period to fund the agency’s research programmes.

These programmes generated a total of €116m in non-exchequer funding for the year, including €70.4m in EU funding, €32m in private enterprise and more than €10m from other international funding sources.

This included 911 collaborations with 463 multinational companies, and 610 collaborations with 464 SMEs across the country.

2017 was a big year for SFI research centres with a further four launched in September including Confirm, Beacon, FutureNeuro and the I-Form Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre.

The agency said that its centres have won a total of €100m in Horizon 2020 funding.

When looking at how academics fared in 2017, SFI-funded researchers won a total of €176m in additional external funding – an increase of 4pc – including €70m in EU funding.

Researchers funded by SFI were also involved in 78 patent filings, 45 licensed technologies and 145 invention disclosures.

Increase in public outreach

It was noteworthy that SFI’s public outreach programmes appeared to receive a significant boost last year, showing a 60pc increase of engagement between researchers and the general public.

Science Week regional festivals grew in 2017, with more than 1,200 events taking place across Ireland, engaging 315,000 people.

Speaking of the report, Prof Mark Ferguson, director general of SFI, said: “I am delighted to see 4,894 publications being reported by SFI-funded researchers in 2017, representing a 17pc increase.

“SFI-funded publications are now 2.7 times more likely to be star publications – that is, in the top 1pc most cited papers in the world, which illustrates the effectiveness of our competitive peer review processes.”

Meanwhile, the Minister of State for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development John Halligan, TD, added: “In 2017, 4,524 researchers were working on SFI-supported projects, at postdoctoral, PhD and master’s level, as we continue to develop Ireland’s STEM talent pipeline for an advanced economy.

“Our open, flexible and ‘no borders’ approach to research continues to make Ireland a highly attractive location.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic