Science Foundation Ireland reveals strategic plan to 2020

12 Nov 2012

Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Minister Richard Bruton; Prof Mark Ferguson, director-general, SFI; and the Minister for Research and Innovation Sean Sherlock, pictured with a new microscope at CRANN that images at a magnification of 10 million

The Government’s science research funding agency Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) has today published its eight-year strategic plan called Agenda 2020, with a strong focus on investing in research projects that can deliver a commercial impact.

SFI has also announced the 37 research projects have been approved for funding as part of a €30m investment in research infrastructure.

Some of the targets in the Agenda 2020 strategy include making SFI the best science funding agency in the world for creating impact from scientific research, as well as doubling the proportion of patents, invention disclosures, licences and spin-outs by Enterprise Ireland that are linked to SFI research.

Other targets include ensuring that 50pc of SFI trainees move to industry as a first destination by 2020.

Commerical impact

Speaking at the launch today, the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton, TD, emphasised how research investment must be targeted at “commercial outcomes”.

“This is a highly ambitious strategy for the next eight years which aims to develop in Ireland the best science funding agency in the world in terms of commercial outcomes and value for money,” said Bruton.

SFI’s director-general Prof Mark Ferguson also described the strategy as an ambitious plan to position Ireland as a global knowledge leader, with scientific and engineering research at its core to drive economic, social and cultural development.

“This strategy represents an enormous challenge to all members of the scientific research and enterprise ecosystem in Ireland, but it is a challenge that we face with great confidence and enthusiasm,” he said.

Projects that will be considered for funding from SFI must fall within the 14 priority research areas to target job creation, as put forward by the Research Prioritisation Steering Group in March.

As for the 37 projects that are set to get funding from the €30m package to build on their research infrastructure, they include a germ-free facility at University College Cork that will be used for food and life-science research, plus a specialised electron microscope that will be installed in the nanoscience institute CRANN at Trinity College Dublin.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic