SFI grants €42m to 62 research projects across Ireland

30 May 2023

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The funding will support 197 positions as research teams look to detect microplastics, assess the climate crisis and develop new ways to treat Parkinson’s disease.

Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) has awarded grants to 62 research projects across Ireland, as part of its Frontiers for the Future Programme.

The selected projects come from 13 higher education institutions and will investigate a range of issues such as detecting microplastics, assessing the climate crisis, learning more about inflammatory diseases and new tech to treat Parkinson’s disease.

Among the cohort are 49 high-risk, high-reward research projects, which are looking at innovative and novel ideas. These projects will receive €27m in funding. Another €15m in funding is going to 13 larger scale collaborative research programmes.

Two projects have been fully funded and another two have been co-funded by the Children’s Health Foundation, while another two were funded by Geological Survey Ireland. Meanwhile, 27 industry partners are collaborating with the successful researchers.

The grants are expected to support 197 research positions, which includes 68 postdoctoral positions, 87 PhD students and 37 research assistants and other positions. SFI said that 33pc of the projects are led by women, while 33pc of the projects come from emerging investigators.

SFI director general Prof Philip Nolan said the Frontiers for the Future Programme is the “primary mechanism” to achieve SFI’s strategy of delivering 140 investigator grants each year.

“It is vital that we invest in excellent and innovative research in Ireland,” Nolan said. “I would like to thank the Children’s Health Foundation and Geological Survey Ireland for collaborating on this programme with SFI, allowing us to fund projects which will have a significant impact in key areas.”

One of the chosen researchers is Prof Sheila McBreen of University College Dublin, who aims to build and launch a new Irish satellite to detect gamma-ray bursts and build the Irish space sector’s research capacity.

Dr Gordon Bromley of the University of Galway plans to improve future climate projections by investigating the impact of historic oceanic shifts in Ireland.

Prof Ruth Massey of University College Cork aims to find out more about how viruses and bacteria cause disease in order to address the pressing global need for resistance-proof therapeutics.

Last November, the SFI Frontiers for Partnership Awards gave €16.2m to 15 research projects led by TUs and ITs in Ireland. In May 2022, the Frontiers for the Future Programme granted €53.7m to 76 projects, with an overall focus on health and climate change.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic