SFI reports 44pc increase in research collaborations with industry

9 Sep 2011

Ireland’s science agency Science Foundation Ireland has reported a 44pc increase in researcher collaborations with industry, as well as a 12pc growth in international academic partnerships, according to its annual report.

The competitiveness of Ireland’s enterprise sector will be determined by its capacity to innovate so the 44pc increase in collaboration is certainly a step in the right direction.

The annual report of SFI showed a further impressive 12pc rise in international academic partnerships was also achieved to leverage significant additional scientific knowledge from SFI-funded research. The findings were published in the agency’s annual report for 2010, released today.

“Such a massive increase in the total number of collaborations, now standing at 867 and up from 601 in 2009, is certainly to be lauded and is in keeping with the Government’s agenda to facilitate greater commercialisation of research,” the Minister for Research and Innovation at the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Seán Sherlock, TD, said.

“The very impressive increases in SFI-funded collaborations, whether via multinational corporations (up 32pc to a total of 237) or the SME sector (up 63pc to 245) shows that forging relationships with critical sectors is being prioritised by our academic community in unison with enterprise. This is where science needs to be in the context of helping to engineer economic rejuvenation in Ireland over the coming years.”

Sherlock continued: “SFI’s reach is now truly global given that its funded researchers last year engaged in 1,700 international academic collaborations spanning 58 countries. This is clear evidence that Ireland is extending its scientific reach and influence and these connections are playing a key role in rebuilding Ireland’s international reputation.

European City of Science 2012

“I am confident that with Dublin set to host the European City of Science in 2012, we will enhance our partnerships with overseas scientific counterparts even further next year,” Sherlock said.

SFI-funded researchers are connected to 534 distinct companies that employ more than 82,000 people at present in Ireland. The SFI effort significantly underpins the Government’s broader enterprise/innovation agenda with SFI working closely in assisting IDA Ireland, Enterprise Ireland and other state agencies.

SFI chairman, Prof Pat Fottrell, said: “The day-to-day work of SFI-funded researchers is intrinsically linked to strategic sectors of our economy, from agri-food and energy to medical technologies and telecommunications.

“We are now building on Ireland’s top 20 position in the global rankings for the quality of scientific research with breakthroughs in areas ranging from semi-conductor design to optimising energy use in data centres and through these breakthroughs we will drive enterprise competitiveness.”

According to the director general of SFI, John Travers, “SFI’s focus continues to be the establishment of Ireland as a location renowned for the excellence of scientific research.

“The challenging economic environment which has continued through 2010 and into 2011 has deterred neither industry nor the researchers that SFI funds in order to support the further development of the knowledge economy, in their combined quest of achieving research excellence and realising commercial potential.

“In tandem with this alliance of highly-skilled individuals and groups, SFI continues to work closely with Government to help deliver innovation, efficiencies and value for money on a sustained basis,” Travers said.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years