28 projects across Ireland bag €34m in SFI research funding

27 May 2024

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Minister Patrick O’Donovan said the successful projects are solving some of the major challenges facing society across healthcare, the environment and technology.

The Government has announced today (27 May) funding awards worth €34m for STEM research projects across Irish higher education institutions.

28 projects across major Irish universities and institutes will benefit from the funding through its support for 124 research positions – including 58 postdoctoral researchers, 53 PhD researchers and 13 research assistants. Funded by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) in collaboration with the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI), the awards are for a duration of 4-5 years.

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Patrick O’Donovan, TD, who made the announcement, said the awards will support the development of “world-class research” in areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

“The projects [these] higher education institutions are focusing on will help deliver solutions to some of the major challenges facing society, including in healthcare, the environment and technology,” O’Donovan said.

Successful research projects cover a wide variety of areas including: sustainable support structures for larger offshore wind turbines; a nasal vaccine against bacteria that causes whooping cough; determining the role of physical fitness in modulating the gut microbiome; and identifying novel molecular treatments to protect the bones of people with diabetes.

One project is even using emerging 3D bioprinting technologies to engineer tissue with the same structure and function as normal tissue, while another is evaluating motion correction for functional MRI scanning to improve brain imaging in infants.

“The SFI Frontiers for the Future awards provide opportunities for independent investigators to conduct highly innovative, original research on important questions,” said Dr Ruth Freeman, director of Science for Society at SFI. “I would like to thank SEAI for collaborating on this programme with SFI, supporting vital research in the area of sustainability.”

Margie McCarthy, director of research and policy insights at SEAI, said that the SFI awards are “excellent examples of national innovation and creativity”.

“By supporting independent researchers, we can help grow Ireland’s national capacity to conduct excellent scientific research,” she said. “We look forward to the new insights and knowledge that the co-funded awards will bring to offshore wind energy support structures and anaerobic digestion ecosystems, and how their results will advance Ireland’s clean energy transition.”

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic