€250m investment to see five new SFI research centres created

Aim of Science Foundation Ireland research centres is to achieve a step-change in the reputation and performance of Ireland’s research system

Mark Ferguson, director of of SFI Science Foundation Ireland, said that the new research centres “will make a significant contribution to Ireland’s economy, employment and reputation”. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien / THE IRISH TIMES

Mark Ferguson, director of of SFI Science Foundation Ireland, said that the new research centres “will make a significant contribution to Ireland’s economy, employment and reputation”. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien / THE IRISH TIMES

 

Almost €250 million is to be invested in five new world-class Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) research centres, in a move aimed at enhancing research in critical and emerging areas of the economy including applied geosciences, software and medical devices.

The Department of Jobs through SFI will invest €155 million in the initiative, which will be combined with €90 million in cash and in-kind contributions from industry partners.

The funding will support “cutting-edge research in critical and emerging sectors of the economy which are key for job creation in Ireland”, and the funding will be provided over the next six years, 2014-2020. The five SFI Research Centres will be involved in over 165 industry collaborations with partners ranging from multinationals to SMEs and including Intel, Google, Microsoft, Medtronic Vascular Galway Ltd, Xilinx, Huawei and many more.

The investment is the second tranche of funding under the SFI Research Centres Programme; last year € 300 million (€ 200 from SFI and € 100 from industry) in funding was announced for seven research centres, the largest ever combined Government and industry co-funding collaboration of its kind in the research field in Ireland.

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton said that the initiative is “aimed at achieving a step-change in the reputation and performance of Ireland’s research system”.

“This builds on the announcement of seven similar centres last year. With twelve world-class SFI Research Centres, Ireland is now well placed to take the lead developing cutting-edge research and new technologies, ultimately delivering more commercial ideas and jobs,” he said.

Professor Mark Ferguson, director general of Science Foundation Ireland and chief scientific adviser to the Government of Ireland, said, “These five new SFI Research Centres were selected following a highly competitive and rigorous international peer review process which screened for scientific excellence and assessed potential economic and societal impact. These five SFI Research Centres complement the seven we announced last year – which are already having a major positive impact: making important scientific advances, initiating and enhancing enterprise, training people with appropriate skills, winning EU projects and enhancing Ireland’s international reputation. These SFI Research Centres combine scientific research with deep and significant enterprise engagement, excellence and impact. We are confident that they will make a significant contribution to Ireland’s economy, employment and reputation.”

The five centres involve a collaborative partnership across institutions in Ireland with participation from Cork Institute of Technology; Dublin City University; Dublin Institute of Technology; Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies; Dundalk IT; NUI Galway; Maynooth University; Royal College of Surgeons Ireland; Trinity College Dublin; Tyndall National Institute; University College Cork; University College Dublin; University of Limerick and Waterford Institute of Technology. The five new SFI Research Centres are as follows:

- Adapt - global digital connectivity enables enterprises, communities and individuals to share information and communicate globally at incredible speed, in enormous volumes, across the world’s languages and over an ever-increasing number of devices. Adapt’s research will fundamentally change the way in which enterprises, communities and individuals can engage globally in real time. Adapt will enhance efficiencies and global reach for industry partners in key priority sectors for Ireland, including ICT, localisation, financial services, eCommerce, media, entertainment and games, life sciences, eLearning, digital culture and humanities;

- CONNECT Centre for Future Networks & Communications - The key challenges that face society all drive the need for new and varied forms of networked services. These include mobile internet, connected health, smart agriculture, smart grids and metering, and environmental monitoring services. The CONNECT Centre focuses on future broadband, cellular and Internet-of-Things networks on which all of these services will be enabled; thereby growing the economy and supporting society at large;

- CÚRAM Centre for Research in Medical Devices - As the global population ages, one in three people are expected to be over 65 by 2050, with the potential financial burden for healthcare expected to rise. CÚRAM is engaged in research to radically improve health outcomes for patients by developing innovative implantable ‘smart’ medical devices to treat major unmet medical needs. This research will position Ireland as the leader in developing medical device technologies which will provide affordable transformative solutions for chronic diseases;

- iCRAG Centre for Research in Applied Geosciences - Geoscience underpins the discovery of raw materials, water and energy resources that are critical to the world’s economy. With increasing demand and diminishing supply, focused innovations in geoscience are of paramount importance globally. Ireland is home to Europe’s largest zinc mine, untapped hydrocarbon resources in challenging North East Atlantic deep water environments, and a diverse geological framework with important untapped seabed and groundwater resources. The iCRAG centre will carry out research to find and harness these resources whilst protecting the environment;

- LERO The Irish Software Research Centre - Software is everywhere and key Irish industry sectors such as manufacturing, medical devices, financial services, cloud computing, analytics, and smart cities depend on it. LERO’s research mission is to replicate the success of traditional software engineering in the context of large-scale, pervasive, physically-integrated, highly interconnected, evolving, and continuously-available systems, in which the boundary between design-time and runtime is disappearing.