East meets west: SFI and China science foundation sign major €12m deal

28 Jun 2018

Researcher working at the Chinese national gene bank in Shenzhen, China. Image: plavevski/Shutterstock

The respective science foundations of Ireland and China have come together to sign a €12m deal that will boost cooperation in next-generation breakthroughs.

As part of its increasing efforts to look outwards when it comes to research, the Chinese government and its Irish counterpart have signed a deal to collaborate on eight major research projects.

Arranged through Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC), the deal represents more than €12m in joint research, which will run over the next two years to support 30 researchers in areas of strategic importance to both China and Ireland.

Speaking at the announcement, the Irish Government said the deal was a direct result of a joint investment made by it through SFI, with €8.6m coming from the NSFC.

The eight projects selected were subject to review, with approximately 250 international expert reviewers assisting in the process.

The chosen projects feature research into the areas of wireless and optical communications, artificial intelligence, microelectronics and nanoelectronics, climate change, green energy, and nanomaterials for biomedical applications.

‘A good start of greater science’

The four Irish institutions to be involved in the collaboration are: University College Dublin, Trinity College Dublin, University College Cork and the Tyndall National Institute.

Meanwhile, the six Chinese institutions on board are: Southeast University, the National Centre for Nanoscience and Technology of China, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Tsinghua University, Beijing Normal University, and Fudan University.

Speaking of the news, Hua Yang, the chargé d’affaires at the Embassy of China in Ireland, said: “Today’s award symbolises a good start of greater science, technology and innovation cooperation between China and Ireland in the years to come.

“It is our belief and hope that, with concerted efforts from both countries, our cooperation in science, technology and innovation will achieve more accomplishments, benefiting the wellbeing of the people from both countries and around the world.”

Meanwhile, Dr Ciarán Seoighe, deputy director general of SFI, added: “Combining the expertise and resources of both research communities has proven very successful in attracting innovative and impactful project submissions. I am excited to see the outcomes from today’s successful applicants.”

Researcher working at the Chinese national gene bank in Shenzhen, China. Image: plavevski/Shutterstock

Updated, 11.54am, 28 June 2018: This article was updated to clarify that the fourth Irish institution involved is Tyndall National Institute, not the Transnational Institute.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic