Science funding to be prioritised


The Government has agreed to target 14 areas of scientific research that have the greatest potential to create jobs and companies.

These priority areas will receive the bulk of the €500 million available from State agencies via the national science budget.

The 14 research areas were identified by a group involving academics, civil servants and industry, brought together in 2010 to determine the future course of state funded research here. The group’s Report of the Research Prioritisation Steering Group, was released today at the Science Gallery by Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton and Minister of State for Research Sean Sherlock.

The document, which was approved by Government on February 21st, is now a formal part of the Government’s science policy, Mr Bruton said.

Its main message was that the State’s investment in research should deliver knowledge but also a return in terms of jobs and companies. “It can’t just be about excellence [of research] it also has to be relevant,” Mr Bruton said.

"The areas are quite broad, but provide a degree of focus that will help prioritise spending," said Jim O’Hara, the former general manager of Intel Ireland who chaired the prioritisation group.

Areas include things such as “future networks and communications” and “food for health”. Each area is defined by the report and research funding awards from bodies such as Science Foundation Ireland, Teagasc, the Marine Institute and Health Research Board will now align with the priority areas.

The report also recommended the State support six platform science and technology areas that in turn will support research in the priority areas. The platform technologies include biomedical science, nanotechnology, advanced materials, microelectronics, photonics and software engineering.

Mr Sherlock will now chair a “prioritisation action group” that will oversee implementation of the report’s recommendations. The group will report progress directly to the Cabinet Committee on Economic Recovery and Jobs.