€1.6m SFI funding to put STEM at the forefront of education

29 Jan 2015

Minister for Skills, Research and Innovation Damien English, TD, and Dr Ruth Freeman, director of strategy and communications at SFI, at the launch of SFI Discover in Dublin. Image via Connor McKenna

A new €1.6m fund provided by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) and the Irish Government will provide crucial funding for 39 initiatives that are aiming to put STEM at the forefront of Ireland’s future generations.

Known as SFI Discover, the programme is hoping to bring the subjects of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) to a much wider audience not just in schools, but in the way they are encouraged outside of the classroom through projects, exhibitions and even a TV show.

By the end of this year, the SFI estimates as many as 4.5m people will be actively engaged with the 39 projects that will be running throughout Ireland.

One of the largest recipients of the funding – at €226,000 – will be a new animated TV show known as INSIDERS, aimed at children ages 7-13. The show will take an educational but entertaining look at the science and technology behind some of kids’ most-loved events and places in Ireland.

Likewise, Brain Freeze 2, a show that explores science with the help of puppets, received €60,000. Brain Freeze 2 will appear both on RTÉ and CBBC in the UK.

Future-proofing STEM jobs for years to come

The largest amount of funding has gone towards the EXCITED festival, which was launched in Dublin last year to critical acclaim. The festival will aim to expand upon its previous effort with the help of €244,000.

Also, a number of SFI Discover’s strategic partners, including SciFest, The Festival of Curiosity and National Maths Week, have also received funding that will work in tandem with National Science Week, the Smart Futures initiative, and work carried out by the SFI Research Centres nationwide to engage and inspire the public in STEM.

Speaking of SFI Discover’s long-term potential, Minister for Skills, Research and Innovation, Damien English, TD, said, “It will future-proof the flow of STEM graduates and ultimately enable Ireland to attract further investment from international companies and to grow and maintain jobs. This objective is also reflected in the Action Plan for Jobs 2015, which contains an action aimed at stepping up collaboration between government, industry and education through SFI’s Smart Futures to raise awareness of STEM career opportunities for post-primary students.”

Inspire 2015 is Silicon Republic’s international event running 18-19 June in Dublin that connects sci-tech professionals passionate about the future of STEM with fresh perspectives on leadership, innovation and diversity.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic