Scientific research centres get €300m funding boost from State and industry

25 Feb 2013

Ireland's Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton, TD

In what is being described as the largest ever State-industry co-funding announcement for Ireland’s research field, €300m is set to be invested in seven new research centres over the next six years to help scientists carry out research in areas such as big data, marine energy, nanotechnology, photonics and functional foods.

The Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton, TD, and the Minister of State for Research and Innovation Sean Sherlock, TD, said this morning that the Irish Government will be investing €200m in the seven research centres, with €100m being invested by more than 150 industry partners.

The €300m funding will be delivered through Science Foundation Ireland’s (SFI) research centres programme over the next six years.

According to the Government, this research funding will support key growth areas targeted in its new Action Plan for Jobs, including health and energy.

Bruton said the €300m investment in the seven research centres will aim to achieve a step-change in the reputation and performance of Ireland’s research system.

“This will support more than 800 talented scientists, develop cutting-edge research and new technologies, attract dynamic partnerships with industry and ultimately help to create the jobs we need,” he said.

Sherlock said the funding would help create jobs in the future in areas such as ICT, internet-based services, pharmaceuticals, medical technologies and energy.

“These centres will also strongly position Irish-based scientists with EU research programmes, and should enable us to win further significant investments to these shores in the coming years,” he said.

Targeted research areas

The seven centres will be focusing on research areas such as big data, perinatal research, drug synthesis, marine renewable energy, nanotechnology and engineered materials, and functional foods and probiotics research.

SFI’s director-general Prof Mark Ferguson said the seven research centres were selected from 35 proposals.

“Each centre will become a hub for platform research areas of national importance, for example, data analytics or renewable energy with an overall operations capability. This model enables the centres to add new industry and academic partners in ‘spokes’ or linked research streams to ensure that funding is used in a collaborative and consolidated way,” he said.

Ferguson said the model would enable the centres to partner with multinationals, SMEs and academic groups on projects to potentially come up with new research breakthroughs.

Currently, 156 industry partners are connected to the centres, including Cisco, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, Medtronic, GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, Eli Lilly, BT, Kerry Group, ESB, Alere, Intune Networks, Intel, IBM, Roche and UTRC Ireland.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic