The Irish Government has established The Strategic Research Proposals Group in a bid to target and obtain €1.25bn in EU Horizon 2020 funding for future scientific endeavours.
The group, which will aim to benefit both indigenous businesses and researchers, was launched by Minister for Skills, Research and Innovation, Damien English TD and will be comprised of senior executives and officials from all research-funded Government departments and agencies.
Their overarching goal will be to focus exclusively on identifying opportunities and mobilising EU funding for large scale projects that they deem will be of strategic value to Ireland.
Leading the group will be Science Foundation Ireland’s (SFI) director-general and chief scientific advisor to the Government, Prof Mark Ferguson.
It is envisaged that this new group will continue the work of Enterprise Ireland which already coordinates the network of ‘National Contact Points’ and ‘National Delegates’ that have successfully backed the research system to surpass the predecessor to the programme, FP7, which acquired €600m.
Chair of the Strategic Research Proposals Group and director-general of the SFI, Prof Mark Ferguson. Image via Jason Clarke.
Target set at €1.25bn for Irish research
The funding available to research organisations across Europe as part of the Horizon 2020 programme is considerable with €80bn available for organisations looking to develop some of the world’s leading science and technologies.
The Department of Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation, as part of the six-year programme, has set an ambitious national target of €1.25bn in EU funding, but Minister English said of the group’s capability: “The establishment of this group will provide for new and big opportunities for Irish companies and researchers. I want to ensure that the full resources of our research and innovation system, in which we have invested heavily, are now used for the optimum benefit of the country by leveraging maximum EU funding.”
As chair of the group, Prof Ferguson also added: “By harnessing the expertise across all relevant Government departments and agencies we hope to identify and catalyse such winning bids. This is a major opportunity, especially as much of the funding is earmarked for industry.”