Stronger industry-university links for R&D urged

25 May 2005

While great strides have been made in increasing the number of researchers in the system, more effort is needed to build stronger linkages between scientists and industry in order to commercialise university research, the head of a key research funding initiative has said.

Martin Hynes, director of the Embark Initiative, the research funding initiative operated by the Irish Research Council for Science, Engineering and Technology (IRCSET), highlighted the ongoing need for effective communication by researchers and the importance of promoting greater research linkages with key players in the industrial sector.

“While the primary issue is that we continue to increase the numbers of researchers we currently have in Ireland, it is also important that we explore how greater levels of knowledge transfer can be fostered between the academic community and society, especially enterprise interests. Researchers as well as industry heads need to recognise that by working together they can not only broaden Ireland’s knowledge base but also create a platform whereby tangible benefits to the economy can be created.”

With this in mind IRCSET has developed an industrial collaboration programme that seeks to create up to 70 co-funded scholarships and/or fellowships working with the commercial sector in 2005. To date successful collaborations have been agreed with Microsoft, IBM, Intel, Ericsson and Pfizer among others.

Hynes was speaking ahead of the Embark Initiative’s Research Achievement Awards for 2005, which take place today at the Chester Beatty Library. This is one of a number of Awards created by IRCSET’s Embark Initiative in order to recognise research achievements in Science, Engineering and Technology.

The awards honour the work of Embark scholarship researchers and help to create greater awareness of the research being undertaken by Embark researchers in our third-level institutions.

The competition is open to all postgraduate researchers who are in receipt of Embark Initiative funding, either directly through an Embark Initiative Scholarship Grant, or indirectly as an employee on an Embark Initiative Basic Research Grant project. This year’s award focuses on the fields of Physics and Mathematics. The winner of the overall award will receive a research bursary of €3,000 in addition to the Research Excellence Award presented by IRCSET.

By Brian Skelly