SFI to pump €60m into scientific research projects with economic potential

25 Jan 2013

Image courtesy of Jason Clarke Photography

Irish Government ministers announced today that €60m will be invested in 85 research projects across the country through Science Foundation Ireland’s Investigator Programme. Projects were selected for investment based on their great potential to benefit Ireland, both economically and socially.

“A central part of this Government’s plan for jobs and growth is to ensure that this research is better targeted at turning the good ideas of researchers into good products and good jobs. That is why we have implemented a series of reforming measures as part of Action Plan for Jobs 2012,” said Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton, TD, who made today’s announcement along with Minister of State for Research and Innovation Seán Sherlock, TD.

These measures include research prioritisation, as facilitated by this investment into projects that are deemed most likely to yield commercial success and grow jobs. A wide range of scientific disciplines are covered, including chemistry, genetics, ICT, healthcare, life sciences, applied mathematical modelling for industry and engineering, computer-assisted neurosurgery, and advanced novel manufacturing.

“Approximately 50pc of IDA’s company announcements last year had links with Science Foundation Ireland-funded researchers,” added Bruton. “By supporting these world-class researchers in their ground-breaking work we will ensure that we continue to maintain, attract and develop dynamic companies and create the quality jobs we need.”

Directly supporting 250 researchers

“These 85 funded research projects were selected from 419 applications following rigorous competitive peer review and ranking by eminent international scientists,” explained SFI director-general Prof Mark Ferguson.

In all, there are 33 large-scale projects that will be funded over five years with an average award value of €1.4m, while 52 smaller projects will receive funding for three years at an average award value of €270,000 each.

This will support 250 research positions directly, as well as indirectly supporting further research initiatives and many more researchers by leveraging significant additional funding from other sources, including competitive European research calls.

2013 SFI Investigator Programme

Supported projects come from universities, institutes of technology and research centres across the country. Many of these projects are already working in close collaboration with companies seeking new products and services this research can provide, such as IBM Ireland, Intel Ireland, HP, EMC and Bord Gáis. With links to 36 companies so far among the projects being funded, this investment also comes with the potential to create jobs.

The projects range in size and scale across areas as varied as animation, advanced materials and manufacturing, tissue engineering, biofilms, disease susceptibility and treatment, and mathematics for enterprise, science and technology. Research topics include next-generation communications systems, farm waste for bioenergy, and research into new anti-viral strategies to combat hepatitis C.

Ferguson also announced that a follow-up 2013 SFI Investigator Programme will be launched next week, on 29 January, and will include an open call as well as a call for submissions under the theme ‘Future Agri-Foods’, jointly funded by SFI and Teagasc.

Elaine Burke is the editor of Silicon Republic