Science for society – the seedbed of Irish innovation

Top-notch scientific research can translate directly into innovative solutions for some of the most fundamental issues affecting society

Science Foundation Ireland’s Shaping Our Future strategy is aimed at helping Ireland, through supporting excellent research, to become a green, sustainable innovation leader, and ensuring the State has the skills and talent to support that goal.

The strategy is underpinned by the excellence of Ireland’s funded research community which delivers outstanding cutting-edge science with real-world impact, often within very tight timeframes.

An example of that speed of delivery was the Covid-19 Rapid Response Research and Innovation Funding Call run in collaboration with other research agencies. That call saw €22.8 million invested in 84 Covid-19 research and innovation projects. Among the successful projects was one that saw the development of a wastewater surveillance system to help predict Covid-19 outbreaks which is now in use in Ireland North and South.

The SFI Future Innovator Prize programme is helping to address some of the grand challenges facing society today. The first €1 million award under the programme went to Hydrobloc for a chronic pain relief therapy.

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Following that the Zero Emissions prize was awarded to Farm Zero C, which is addressing agricultural emissions, and the AI for Societal Good prize was awarded to the Tapas project which is enabling developing world countries to track climate-change adaptation in their agri-food sectors.

More recently the SFI-Defence Organisation Challenge will seek to develop disruptive solutions to challenges facing the Irish Defence Forces, and the Sustainable Development Goals Challenge, in partnership with Irish Aid, aims to support the development of solutions that will contribute to addressing development challenges in countries where Irish Aid works.

Partners

The SFI Industry RD&I Fellowship is a great vehicle to bring innovation to a company through academia-industry interactions by placing temporary academic researchers in industry. Industry partners hosting researchers will benefit from the expertise of the fellow embedded in their company, bringing innovative solutions to industry challenges.

These are just a few examples of how excellence in scientific research can translate directly into innovative solutions for some of the most fundamental issues affecting society. The companies shortlisted for this year’s Irish Times Innovation Awards provide even more examples, and show that we are well on the way to realising our ambition for Ireland to become a global innovation leader.