SFI 2018 report shows a 43pc increase in industry funding

22 Jul 2019

SFI director general Prof Mark Ferguson. Image: Jason Clarke

2018 has been described as a ‘significant year’ for SFI following the publication of its latest annual report.

The Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) 2018 annual report was published today (22 July), with the Government agency claiming that every €1 invested in SFI centres saw €5 returned to the economy.

Across 2018, SFI invested €188m from the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation towards generating new industry and international collaborations. This generated a further €230m in non-Government funding – including €98m from the EU – marking a 31pc increase on the previous year. Funding from industry increased by 43pc to €46m.

The number of people employed in Ireland in roles supported by the agency grew by 28pc to 39,823, including 4,924 people working on SFI-supported projects.

The majority of academic collaborations were international, with 2,715 projects spanning a total of 74 countries, including eight new awards as part of a programme between the Government agency and the National Natural Science Foundation of China.

Over the course of last year, there were a total of 897 regional industry collaborations, 504 of which were with multinational companies and 393 with SMEs. SFI-funded researchers were also involved in 12 spin-out companies, 51 patent awards and 174 invention disclosures.

One of the agency’s biggest moves in 2018 was the opening of five research centres – Confirm, Beacon, FutureNeuro, I-Form and VistaMilk – representing an investment of €90m.

Closer towards its goal

As part of its mission to increase public awareness of STEM, SFI said it had noted a 20pc increase in researcher engagement with the public through various programmes.

Commenting on the report, Minister of State for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development John Halligan, TD, said: “2018 was a very positive year for SFI. Its investment of €13.7m in the next generation of STEM talent through SFI Career Development Awards, and the launch of 41 diverse initiatives through the SFI Discover Programme to promote STEM to young people and harder-to-reach audiences, will help to future-proof our talent pipeline.”

SFI’s director general, Prof Mark Ferguson, added that the agency is on its way towards achieving one of its major short-term goals.

“At the end of 2018, 45pc of SFI-funded original and review articles were open access, bringing us closer to our goal of achieving full and immediate open access for all SFI-funded research publications by 2021,” he said.

“This increased access allows the societal and economic benefits of our funded research to go further. As we build on this continued growth and look to 2019 and beyond, SFI’s new strategy for 2020-2025 will aim to empower our research community, focusing on the areas where we can bring the most value.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic