SFI projects earn €69m

12 Jan 2004

Investment awards of more than €69m have been approved by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) to fund a number of important science projects.

SFI will provide €10m for a new SFI Centre for Science, Engineering and Technology (CSET) at TCD in partnership with UCC and UCD. The Centre for Research on Adaptive Nanostructures and Nanodevices (Crann) will develop tools and techniques to build new structures and devices atom by atom. The Crann CSET’s principal industry partner is Intel Ireland.

TCD will also receive a further €11m for the provision of a specialised nanoscience research facility to be used by nanoscience investigators at TCD. This facility will meet the environmental and vibration standards required for cutting-edge nanoscience research.

An additional CSET award of €15m has been awarded to NUI Galway for the establishment of the Regenerative Medicine Institute (Remedi). Regenerative medicine is an emerging discipline that will be used to repair tissues and organs and promises to partially replace current conventional medicine with its reliance on invasive techniques. Industry partners will include Medtronic Vascular (Galway). The Remedi CSET will play a vital role in embedding high value added R&D research activities in Ireland and will sustain the future growth of biotechnology firms in the country.

Industry partners will add a minimum of 20pc to SFI’s support for the CSET awards in the form of funding, personnel or equipment.

The latest awards bring to more than €320m the investment commitments made by SFI since 2001 to support in Ireland more than 750 world-class researchers working in the fields underpinning biotechnology (BioT) and information and communications technology (ICT).

Announcing the awards, Tánaiste Mary Harney TD said: “CSETs such as Crann and Remedi linking academic researchers with industry partners in Ireland will play a significant role in building Ireland’s new knowledge-driven economy. They are of strategic importance to the entire country as we believe that building partnerships between academia and industry will support the creation of new ideas and products, sustain the supply of research skills and talent into the 21st century and produce the innovation and development that successful wealth generating economies need to grow.”

Other award highlights include more than €8.5m for three new research professorships, under the SFI Fellows-Research Professorship programme, which assists Irish research institutions in attracting outstanding researchers (SFI Fellows) to their institutions from outside the State. These are Dr Daniel E Geraghty from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre in Seattle, US, and Prof Alexander Stewart Fotheringham from the University of Newcastle, UK, who have both been recruited to NUI Maynooth; and Prof J Oliver Dolly recruited from Imperial College, London to Dublin City University.

By Brian Skelly