SFI and Government welcome launch of four world-class research centres

7 Sep 2017

From left: An Tánaiste and Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Frances Fitzgerald, TD; An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, TD; and Minister for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development John Halligan, TD. Image: Jason Clarke Photography

A massive investment in Irish science sees the creation of four state-of-the-art research centres with SFI.

Government officials and Irish science figureheads gathered in Dublin Castle today (7 September) to celebrate the launch of four new Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) research centres.

The research centres represent a significant investment of €74m from the Government over the next six years, with a €40m investment from industry.

A ‘shared vision’

Speaking at the launch, An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, TD, emphasised the economic benefits of the four new facilities: “Our SFI research centres represent a virtuous triangle between government, industry and higher education, and show just what can be achieved when there is a shared vision about reaching your ambitions.”

The four centres will collaborate with more than 80 industry partners, both from here and further afield. Companies include Glanbia, IBM, Intel and Siemens, among many other diverse firms.

An Tánaiste and Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Frances Fitzgerald, TD, described the launch of the centres as a “key action in the Government’s strategy for research and development, Innovation 2020”.

She added: “I believe these SFI research centres will be transformative for Irish scientific research and for companies in many sectors.”

Enhancing our international reputation

Director general of SFI, Prof Mark Ferguson, discussed Ireland’s notable progress as a science and innovation hub, and the role that these new centres will play in the continued health of the sector here.

“SFI research centres are making important scientific advances, enhancing enterprise and industry, training students with critical, in-demand skills, supporting regional development, and enhancing Ireland’s international reputation.

“These new SFI research centres will continue this upward trajectory by attracting leading Irish and international researchers, winning competitive international funding, and establishing sustained fruitful partnerships with industry.”

The centres will have strong links between research bodies in Ireland, including Trinity College Dublin, NUI Galway and Temple Street Children’s University Hospital.

Four centres, four specific aims

Each centre will address specific aims for science in Ireland.

Confirm will look at making Ireland a world leader in smart manufacturing. Optimising the manufacturing industry with added intelligence and enhanced information technology will shorten supply chains and speed up development of new innovations across the board.

Beacon is the new bioeconomy research centre, concentrating on the sustainable use of biological resources to produce goods such as plastics, fuels and bioactive molecules. It aims to use the byproducts of the marine and agricultural sectors to create these new sustainable products. This will be vital in a world currently dependent on depleting fossil fuels.

FutureNeuro will focus on addressing the burden caused by chronic and rare neurological illnesses. It will initially focus on world-leading research into epilepsy and motor neurone disease, then expand to focus on other debilitating conditions.

I-Form Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre will enhance the processing efficiency of Irish manufacturing, allowing the production of highly customised 3D-printed components that exhibit superior performance. Using embedded sensors and advanced data analytic techniques, manufacturing waste will be reduced, promoting Ireland as a leader in additive manufacturing.

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects