Teamwork and tech: Irish TUs bag EU funding for research addressing SDGs

23 May 2023

Image: © patpitchaya/

TikTok for sustainable development and ChatGPT’s impact on academia are just two of the areas to be explored under the new scheme which aims to highlight collaborative research.

A series of funding grants worth a total of €650,000 has been announced today (23 May) for Ireland’s technological universities.

The awards will see 131 projects in seven TUs receive funding from the EU. The N-TUTORR initiative aims to get staff and students together to work on research addressing the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Dr Sharon Flynn, national coordinator for N-TUTORR, said that the projects receiving funding today will not only enhance their own institutions, but they will also contribute to and reflect positive changes in wider society. The funded projects “address issues such as water quality, sustainable food production and the implications of AI for academic integrity,” she added.

The project looking at water quality is being carried out by a team at TU Dublin. The group will conduct a citizen science study to examine the levels of pollution in streams on or near the TU Dublin Tallaght campus.

A clean-up strategy involving local community groups will be implemented following the study.

Final-year pharmaceutical science students will conduct a more scientifically advance research project on water contamination, which will involve testing the water for metals and contaminants.

Students from Dundalk Institute of Technology, meanwhile, have taken inspiration from TikTok for their project, which involves using the tech platform to how it can be used to educate people about the UN’s SDGs.

TikTok is not the only hugely popular tool to be leveraged by this crop of awardees. A team at Technological University of the Shannon is planning to explore ChatGPT’s potential as a tool for learning and teaching in undergraduate psychology.

Each project will receive grants of up to €5,000. Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris, TD, described the scheme as “an innovative, whole-sector collaboration across the technological university sector that aims to transform the student experience”.

He said that collaboration between students and teachers in co-creating projects “will enrich the teaching and learning experience”, as well as contributing to Ireland’s SDGs progress.

Science Foundation Ireland already has an established partnership with Irish Aid which involves scientists carrying out research based around the UN’s SDGs. The partnership announced €3.2m in challenge funding for researchers in 2021.

The full list of projects to have received funding under the N-TUTORR initiative is available on the website of the Technological Higher Education Association.

10 things you need to know direct to your inbox every weekday. Sign up for the Daily Brief, Silicon Republic’s digest of essential sci-tech news.

Blathnaid O’Dea was a Careers reporter at Silicon Republic until 2024.