SFI awards €21m to develop Ireland’s research infrastructure

17 Jan 2024

Image: © AlexOakenman/Stock.adobe.com

The successful projects include a platform to test floating wind technology and a facility to improve semiconductors.

Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) has announced funding for eight research infrastructure projects focused on transforming various sectors.

The foundation provided €21m to support these projects through its Research Infrastructure programme, which aims to help researchers build cutting-edge infrastructure that can accomplish high-quality, impactful research.

The selected projects are focused on issues such as energy optimisation, AI, quantum research, biomolecule detection and more. Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris, TD, said the funding will support “pioneering research”.

“This support builds and sustains the required infrastructural capacity we need that enables our research community to thrive across the fields of materials science, earth and environmental sciences, energy, engineering, physics and neuroscience and behaviour,” Harris said.

One of the projects is the Floating Wind Testbed integrated with Energy System Observatory, which aims to provide infrastructure for addressing knowledge gaps and optimising energy utilisation.

This project is being conducted by University College Cork and will include a 200kW floating wind platform. It is co-funded by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI).

“We expect this particular project to unlock the significant potential for floating offshore wind in Irish coastal waters,” said Margie McCarthy, SEAI director of research and policy insights. “Trial infrastructure and gathering delivery knowledge are key to achieving government ambitions in this sector and ultimately accelerating Ireland’s clean energy transition.”

Another successful project is called the Advanced Heterogeneous Device Integration, which aims to develop a unique facility using hybrid integration to improve semiconductor performance. This project is being undertaken by Tyndall National Institute.

The awards follow a recent report which claims Government spending into research and development (R&D) reached record levels in Ireland last year. This report estimates the Government’s allocations into R&D surpassed €1bn in 2023, which will mark the first time this milestone has been achieved.

Last year, 33 high-impact research infrastructure projects across Ireland received a total investment of €53.3m through the SFI Research Infrastructure Fund.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic