€10m research fund for scientists to open after delay


SCIENTISTS WHO want to turn their research discoveries into businesses can start applying for Enterprise Ireland (EI) support funding from next month.

Its commercialisation fund programme will make €10 million available after a four-month delay in the support due to uncertainty over Government funding.

Minister of State for Science Conor Lenihan has also warned of the need for consistent funding for scientific research.

Enterprise Ireland’s (EI) executive director Feargal Ó Móráin confirmed the delayed start-up of the fund in Dublin yesterday at the second annual EI applied research forum. The event encourages academic researchers to develop the commercial possibilities of their work.

Mr Ó Móráin said that EI’s commercialisation fund would open for applications in mid-July. Researchers can bid for financial support to help bring discoveries to market. It would have about €10 million available and he expected two more funding rounds with comparable money later in the year. This programme was being “prioritised” given its potential to create jobs and wealth in support of the smart economy, Mr Ó Móráin said. The delay in opening the application round related to uncertainties about Government levels of funding.

Research funding commitments usually run for more than a year and funders such as EI must know that they can continue to support a project for its duration and not just within a given year, he said.

Funding for scientific research was also raised as an issue by Minister of State for Science Conor Lenihan who opened the meeting.

“We must continue to sustain the investment we have made in the research institutes and universities,” he said. There was an “umbilical” connection between research activity and the ability to attract foreign direct investment. “It is linked intrinsically to the Government’s plan for a smart economy,” he said.

Mr Lenihan also presented the EI “One to Watch” award for 2010 to Dr Ross O’Neill of NUI Maynooth for his proof-of-concept research into a possible new treatment for tinnitus, a condition that causes a ringing in the ears.