Four new Irish research centres created on the back of €72m funding

2 May 2017

Image: Tibor Duris

Science Foundation Ireland is adding to Ireland’s research centres, bringing the total number to 16 in 10 years.

In what is the third release of funding for new research centres in recent years, Science Foundation Ireland’s (SFI) latest €72m fund will see four new operations set up by 2023.

The four centres will look at smart industrial automation, fossil fuel replacements, additive manufacturing and neuroscience.

Centres of research excellence

These centres will be supported by 80 industry partners, which SFI said will provide an additional €38m to support cutting-edge basic and applied research.

The choosing of the four projects follows an international peer-review process involving leading industry and academic experts over the last 12 months.

A total of 12 centres have already been created through this funding model, including Adapt, Lero and MaREI.

Calling these “outstanding international examples of applied and basic combined research”, Prof Mark Ferguson, director general of SFI, claimed that his organisation’s work is driving up Ireland’s science rankings.

“They are making important scientific advances, enhancing enterprise and industry, developing critical skills, supporting regional development and enhancing Ireland’s international reputation,” he said.

“They are also an important engine for the economy – companies engaged with the SFI research centres are located all over Ireland and globally. I look forward to working with the four new SFI research centres on their road to becoming world-class centres of research excellence.”

Projects in the pipeline

“We need to be ambitious and invest in areas of real potential to ensure our future economic competitiveness,” said Ferguson of the funding choices.

“I am greatly encouraged by the high quality of research and the significant level of industry and international engagement in the proposals.”

The four chosen projects are:

  • Smart manufacturing IT and industrial automation systems, led by Prof Conor McCarthy, University of Limerick.
  • Beacon: Biological resources as alternative materials to finite fossil resources, led by Prof Kevin O’Connor, University College Dublin (UCD).
  • Deantus: Innovative techniques and processes in additive manufacturing, led by Prof Denis Dowling, UCD.
  • FutureNeuro: Diagnosis, monitoring and treatment of chronic and rare neurological diseases, led by Prof David Henshall, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland.

Beyond those chosen, another four projects were approved in principle, with additional funding sought to get these across the line.

The four extra centres will, if they come to pass, look at dairy production, molecular mapping, immunology and biopharma manufacturing.

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic