EU selects Ireland to manage €3.6m software research programme

8 Nov 2017

From left: Prof Brian Fitzgerald, director of SFI-backed Lero; Dr Mary Shire, vice-president of research at UL; and Senator Kieran O’Donnell. Image: Sean Curtin/True Media

UL and Lero to benefit from influx of international software research talent.

Ireland has been selected to manage the €3.6m EU fellowship programme for software researchers.

Advanced Learning in Evolving Critical Systems (ALECS) will be coordinated by University of Limerick (UL) and Lero, and will be funded by the European Commission under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie programme (grant agreement No 754489) and by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) through Lero.

“The aim of ALECS is to help generate a diverse, mobile, skilled workforce which will contribute to European research and innovation,” explained Dr Mary Shire, vice-president of research at UL.

“The fact that Ireland was selected to manage this strategically important programme is recognition of the country’s international reputation in software research.”

The win coincides with the first meeting of Perform, a recently announced €3.8m EU programme headed up by Lero and DCU, designed to enable European high-street and online retailers to counter the competitive threat posed by foreign global players.

Ice cold in ALECS

Under the ALECS programme, Ireland will benefit from the influx of 26 international advanced software researchers.

The fellowships will be open to overseas PhD degree holders or researchers with at least four years’ experience in a high-level research background. The benefits will be spread across Irish industry as the two-year programme will require a three-to-six-month secondment to an industry partner.

“The ALECS programme reflects the fact that software-based systems are increasingly important to economic activity and to the normal functioning of our everyday lives,” said Prof Brian Fitzgerald, director of SFI-backed Lero.

“The scope, scale and interconnected nature of such systems are increasing rapidly, with the potential consequences of failure, security breaches or malfunction becoming a growing cause of concern,” he said.

The first call for proposals will be published before the end of November and the first researchers are expected to start their fellowship in August 2018. They will be based across seven Irish universities, all of which are members of Lero.

SFI director of programmes, Dr Darrin Morrissey, described ALECS as an example of the type of international collaboration the State’s science agency wants to foster.

“We have developed a strong base of outstanding and impactful software research in this country and we are delighted that it is being recognised on the global stage. Ireland is ranked first in the world for knowledge diffusion and the ALECS programme stands to reinforce this standing.”

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