State to lure new PhD students with €28,000 yearly research stipend

Government launches €100m programme in attempt to recruit high-level researchers

PhD students will be offered a €28,000 annual stipend from a new €100 million public-private partnership aimed at recruiting researchers from abroad and retaining doctoral students at home.

The new “Innovate for Ireland” partnership between the Government and private industry will be launched today by Taoiseach Micheál Martin and the Minister for Research and Innovation Simon Harris in an attempt to attract and retain researchers in the State.

The Government is funding the initiative with €50 million in public funds which will be matched by another €50 million from private industry over the first years of the programme. The scheme will be open to Irish and international students. The €28,000 a year stipend is in line with financial supports offered under similar global scholarships.

The initial phase of the initiative will seek up to 400 high-calibre PhD students to undertake research into national and global challenges such as global warming and climate adaptation, worldwide health and pandemics water poverty, digital society and cybersecurity. Programme disciplines will range from science, technology and engineering to arts, humanities and social sciences.


It is intended that the programme will grow to a much larger fund backed by Government and private business supporting 1,200 PhD scholarships over the coming decade. Among the sponsors of the programme’s initial phase are AIB and aircraft leasing company Avolon.

Mr Harris said the programme had “great potential to transform Ireland’s talent pipeline.”

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The Minister said he hoped that the programmes would establish the State as “a globally renowned hub of talent development and knowledge creation.”

“Through partnership with the private sector, this collaboration will help us to ensure our brightest and best stay in Ireland but also that we continue to attract talent to Ireland,” he said.

The programme will be managed through Science Foundation Ireland in partnership with the Irish Research Council and the Health Research Board. A call for applications to the programme from prospective doctoral students is expected to be announced later this year.

Director-general of Science Foundation Ireland Prof Philip Nolan welcomed the partnership between Government and industry to “support the development of future skills and talent through excellent doctoral training.”

Dómhnal Slattery, chief executive of Dublin aircraft leasing company Avolon, who originally proposed the idea for the programme, said he believed it would be “transformative” for Ireland.

The initiative would establish Ireland as a “destination of choice for world-class research students” focusing on sustainability challenges for the whole world and deliver a “strong pipeline” of innovators who are ready to join the workforce over the next decade,” he said.

Colin Hunt, chief executive of AIB, said: “Innovation is a critical driver of any progressive society and economy. It is through research that we learn about and improve life on our planet, not just for this generation, but for generations to come.”

Global tax changes and the future decline in the State’s corporate tax advantage are forcing the Government and business in Ireland to look at new ways of remaining competitive. Attracting people to work and study in the State is seen as an important step in the pursuit of talent as industries compete more and more internationally for educated staff.

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell is News Editor of The Irish Times