Outlining its successes so far, SFI director general Prof Mark Ferguson looks ahead to the agency’s plans for growth in 2018.

Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) published its Annual Plan for 2018 along with a review of the key achievements delivered on its Agenda 2020 plans to date. Prof Mark Ferguson, director general of Science Foundation Ireland and chief scientific adviser to the Government of Ireland, spoke to Siliconrepublic.com about the work done so far and plans for future development and investment.

In 2018, five newly announced SFI research centres – Confirm, I-Form, FutureMilk, FutureNeuro, Beacon – will be up and running, while an existing seven will enter the competitive process of applying for renewal of funding.

“They’re all doing really well,” said Ferguson. “They’re leveraging money from industry, from the EU; they’re making good discoveries; they’re collaborating with industry. It’s a real success story.”

SFI’s goal is to have 20 research centres operating in Ireland, and the agency is seeking to grow its budget in line with the Government’s Innovation 2020 strategy to build out Ireland’s research and innovation economy.

“We’re not going to get rich from our natural resources or from cheap labour. We’re going to get rich from using our brains, and inventing and doing things,” said Ferguson.

Words by Elaine Burke