SFI secured €130m in funding from outside sources in 2015

14 Jul 2016

Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) has released its 2015 annual report, revealing that it secured €130m of non-Exchequer funding for researchers in Ireland in 2015.

This funding was in addition to €154m in funding that came from the Government via the Department of Job, Enterprise and Employment for research projects here.

The SFI report released today (14 July) highlighted the importance of external factors to Irish scientific endeavours: of the €130m in outside funding, €79m was sourced from the EU’s Horizon 2020 (H2020) fund.

Future Human

Additionally, €38m was raised from industry co-funding 1,220 projects, 711 of which were with multinationals, while 509 were SMEs.

In total, SFI funding supported 4,040 researchers, including 1,300 postgraduate students, and, both directly and indirectly, it supported 28,000 jobs across the country.

Turning its gaze outside of Ireland, the SFI collaborated with 2,081 international researchers from 62 countries and hosted 58 European Research Council (ERC) grantees, 20 of whom were women.

Looking at Ireland’s standing among the international scientific community, Ireland has risen once again in the international rankings provided by Thomson Reuters for the quality of scientific research, from 16th to 14th place.

New PhD programme incoming

Ireland ranked particularly strongly in a number of sub-categories, most notably, chemistry, nanotechnology and immunology, with the country ranked in second place globally in the survey.

Discussing its plans for the rest of this year, the SFI said that it plans to develop a new PhD programme to improve the quality of Irish PhD students on the back of a decline in the number of PhD graduates in STEM research recently.

This, it warns, could lead to a seriously-damaging skills deficit in future years.

Also, it said it plans to develop a challenge-based funding programme in the face of a growing demand for competitive funding mechanisms.

Commenting on the release of the report, SFI’s chairperson, Ann Riordan, said: “By every meaningful measure, 2015 was a year of significant accomplishment across all areas of Science Foundation Ireland’s activity.

“Ireland moved up in the global research rankings; we had the best ever year for European Research Council awards and, on a broader EU level, we obtained more EU grant awards than ever before.”

Microscope image via University of Liverpool/Flickr

Updated 5.10pm, 14 July 2016: This article was updated as some figures in the original report were incorrect

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic