Science Foundation Ireland reveals 2011 annual report details at ESOF

12 Jul 2012

Prof Mark Ferguson, director-general, Science Foundation Ireland

The Irish Government’s science agency Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) has released the details of its annual report for 2011 at the Euroscience Open Forum (ESOF) in Dublin this morning. Key aspects of the report include a 19pc increase in the number of linkages between researchers and companies in 2011, and a 73pc increase on 2010 figures in terms of licenced technologies spawned from research.

The report comes in the wake of comments made in Dublin yesterday by Helga Nowotny, the president of the European Research Council. Speaking to RTÉ News, Nowotny said Ireland could “do better” with regard to harnessing European funding.

As for the SFI Annual Report, Sean Sherlock, Minister of State with Responsibility for Research and Innovation, spoke at the launch today.

“The 158pc increase which SFI has seen in the number of industry-academic linkages over the past four years is certainly a significant achievement and testament to the focus of the organisation and the dedicated and innovative minds of its researchers,” he said at ESOF.

Key results

The key findings of the report include a 19pc increase in the number of linkages with companies in 2011. With this technology transfer focus in mind, SFI revealed that SFI-supported researchers have been teaming up with 246 multinational companies and 337 SMEs.

Meanwhile, SFI-supported researchers also reported a total of 5,740 scientific publications in 2011. The agency said this was a 15pc increase.

Also, in 2011, there were 39 licensed technologies, a 73pc increase on 2010, according to the science agency.

SFI reported that its researchers engaged in more than 1,900 collaborations in 68 countries, while it said its scientists also secured €156m from non-SFI sources of funding.

The agency said today that its funding contributed to breakthroughs in areas such as sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), cancer, superbugs, blindness, nanosensor technology, and social media trends.

According to SFI, it invests in academic researchers and research teams who are most likely to generate new knowledge, leading-edge technologies and competitive enterprises in the fields of science and engineering. Its focus areas include biotechnology, ICT and sustainable energy and energy-efficient technologies.

Science and Ireland

SFI’s director-general Prof Mark Ferguson spoke about how the science agency is “integral” to the enterprise ecosystem in Ireland.

“SFI has continued to fund research and train people that will play a critical role in attracting, retaining, growing and forming companies in Ireland. Investment in scientific research and innovation is delivering results with impact for today and for the future,” he said.

Ireland has retained its place in the top 20 countries in scientific global rankings, based on the Thomson Reuters Essential Science Indicators 2011.

Right now, Ireland is ranked third in the world for the quality of its research in immunology and eighth in the world for the quality of its research in materials science.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic