SFI 2015 report shows it was funding galore for Irish STEM sector

15 Dec 2015

Prof Mark Ferguson, director-general of the SFI and Ann Riordan, chair of the SFI. Image via Jason Clarke.

Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) appears to be asking for more of the same for 2016 following the publication of its 2015 report, which shows record levels of funding were achieved this year.

The SFI 2015 report lists Ireland’s achievements, particularly on a European scale, showing that it will be taking the ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ approach to 2016.

According to the report, SFI research centres were able to attract a total of €59m in 2015 as part of the European Union’s (EU) Horizon 2020 programme.

As well as this, 23 awards worth a total of €30m were doled out to senior researchers in Ireland through the Investigators Programme (IvP) designed to support 100 research positions and involve 40 companies.

A total of €16.3m was awarded to six researchers through the SFI Research Centres Spokes Programme, co-funded by more than 20 industry partners to a cumulative value €10.5m, resulting in total 2015 funding of more than €26m.

There was also significant progress made with young science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) advocates, with 42 awards totalling €2.8m to aid the education and engagement of the young, Irish public who we hope will pursue careers in STEM.

This year also saw a new partnership between the SFI and RTÉ to jointly fund the development and broadcast of dynamic TV programmes to aid in this campaign.

2016 – a few tweaks to the programme

As for 2016, SFI’s Annual Plan 2016 report outlines pretty much a continuing of what was achieved this year and an expansion of its existing programmes.

Otherwise, the SFI says it will be creating a new programme to be called the SFI President of Ireland Future Research Leaders Programme that aims to recruit top-tier early and mid-career researchers to carry out their research in Ireland.

It will also be launching a new call for proposals for SFI research centres in 2016 that will be open to applications where strong evidence can be provided of having had a significant impact on the Irish economy and scientific advancement.

Building SFI research centres of global scale, excellence and relevance, attracting and training both young researchers and established stars, making important fundamental discoveries, spinning out companies, supporting partnerships to grow and attract existing companies, and enhancing Ireland’s international reputation were all delivered by the SFI and the research teams we supported in 2015,” said the SFI’s director-general, Prof Mark Ferguson.

“The SFI will build on these achievements in 2016 through an expanded range of actions to support excellent scientific research with the potential for economic and societal impact.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic