SFI to pump €6.9m into 62 scientific research projects

23 May 2013

Pictured at the Science Gallery this morning were Prof Mark Ferguson, director-general Science Foundation Ireland; Minister Sean Sherlock TD; Prof Tia Keyes from DCU; and Dr Nick Bennett from DCU

The Irish Government, as part of its drive to commercialise applied research, has announced that Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) is to inject €6.9m into 62 research projects, some of which involve big data, Alzheimer’s disease and the development of new drugs to treat cancer.

The Minister of State for Research and Innovation Seán Sherlock, TD, announced the new funding at the Science Gallery in Dublin this morning.

The €6.9m investment is being made through SFI’s Technology Innovation Development Award (TIDA) programme, in collaboration with Enterprise Ireland.

The 62 research projects that are set to benefit from the funding hail from Trinity College Dublin (TCD), University College Dublin, NUI Galway, University College Cork, Dublin City University, Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland, Tyndall National Institute, NUI Maynooth, Dublin Institute of Technology and University of Limerick.

Sherlock said the funding would enable the research teams to take the first steps in developing new discoveries and inventions with commercial potential.

“Today’s funding announcement will help deliver the commercialisation of excellent research taking place in Ireland in a range of areas, such as ICT, big data, medical technologies and food,” he said, adding that these are areas of significant employment.

Some of the research being funded is the development of new drugs for cancer treatment and diabetes; research to develop genetically modified crops tolerant to drought; new ways to detect Alzheimer’s disease; and smart networked sensing systems in agriculture.

SFI’s director-general Prof Mark Ferguson said each submitted project went through a “rigorous” review process.

“Ultimate selection was on the basis of the quality and novelty of the proposed innovation, its potential impact and its fit with the national research prioritisation areas,” he said.

To give a taste of some of the projects, Prof Manfred Hauswirth at NUI Galway is developing software to integrate public and private data with an intuitive user interface to support retail business planning.

Prof Mathias O Senge from the School of Chemistry at TCD is developing new drugs for cancer treatment based on a technique called photodynamic therapy. This is a non-invasive treatment that involves the interaction of light with photosensitiser molecules used to target the cancer.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic