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News : Irish Last Updated: Dec 19th, 2007 - 13:17:15

Irish Government provides €87m across a number of "groundbreaking industry-academic projects... for Ireland’s new knowledge-driven economy”
By Finfacts Team
Nov 13, 2007, 10:13

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Institute of Molecular Medicine, Trinity College Dublin

The Minister for Enterprise Trade and Employment, Micheál Martin T.D, today announced Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) research investment awards amounting to €87 million across a number of "groundbreaking industry-academic projects."

This is the largest funding award made by SFI under its Centres for Science, Engineering and Technology (CSET) and the new Strategic Research Clusters (SRC) programmes. The awards will support one CSET and twelve SRCs.

Describing the strategic importance of the awards, Martin said; “SFI has established some of the most significant and innovative awards offered anywhere in the world for research that brings together academic and industrial partners. Measures such as the SFI CSETs and SRCs provide the mechanisms for new innovative research and entrepreneurial leadership and real opportunities for re-shaping Ireland’s economy through science. These collaborations therefore are central to the Government’s long-term economic strategy in building Ireland’s new knowledge-driven economy”.

The Minister stated, that “these projects are powerful agents for linking indigenous and multi-national companies with researchers in Ireland’s institutes of higher learning. The research being undertaken by today’s award recipients represents tangible examples of the Government’s Strategy for Science Technology and Innovation 2006-2013 to create and sustain a lasting indigenous research base that produces ideas, products, and jobs based on knowledge and innovation”.

The award recipients work in the fields underpinning Biotechnology (BIO) and Information Communications Technology (ICT) across 11 academic institutions in Ireland. These researchers are playing a pivotal role in growing partnerships with industry involving a total of 48 distinct companies and capturing the interest of both multinational corporations and indigenous companies.

The Minister added, that he was delighted with the high quality human capital involved in the projects, “as a result of this investment in these new research clusters approximately 490 highly qualified personnel, including, senior researchers (PrincipaI Investigators), Post Docs, and PhD Students will participate in cutting edge research projects”.

Professor Frank Gannon, Director General SFI, added; “Today’s research award recipients and the teams that they have assembled are of world-class calibre. I believe that the initiatives to be undertaken by SFI over the coming seven years will provide a cornerstone for Ireland's future economic development, with CSETs and SRCs playing a key role”.

The funding follows a rigorous review and assessment process and all award recipients were assessed by international scientific experts. In total 50 internationally renowned scientist came to Ireland and participated in the site review process.

“This is clear evidence that Ireland is now recognised as an international location for high quality scientific research”, Professor Gannon added.

Finfacts Comment: On Monday, the UK Government published its annual R&D Scorecard with a ranking of the top 1,250 companies in terms of Research & Development spending. Three Irish companies were included in the ranking.

While the Minister will never spare superlatives when providing funding to meet the goal of becoming a "world-class knowledge" economy in less than six years, he has yet to show that he understands the challenge.

In the UK, The Financial Times reported Monday that the National Council for Graduate Entrepreneurship (NCGE), which surveyed 122 universities with 1.75m students, says less than half do enough to encourage enterprise. It found that only a minority offered such facilities as start-up mentoring or enterprise workshops.

Ian Robertson, the NCGE's chief executive, said many institutions were failing to prepare students for the economic realities of adult life.

Rick Trainor, president of Universities UK, said he was "surprised" by the NCGE's criticisms. He said: "The UK remains ahead of its competitors in terms of university entrepreneurial activity - more spin-outs are created per pound of research income than in the US, for example. And 30 UK university spin-out companies have floated on the stock market in the last four years, with a combined value of £1.7bn."

What are the targets/benchmarks in Ireland?

The collaboration projects are likely funded by as much as 75% from Irish public funds - no problem with that at present - as IDA Ireland provides support for the multinational participants. It may be worthwhile but for limited expenditures, it is a no-brainer for the companies. That of course is a risk with R&D spending but it's not clear if Irish policymakers understand it. 

Summary List of Awards

Approved CSET - over 60 months

Prof Josef Van Genabith

Next Generation Localisation



Approved SRC - over 60 months





Prof Alexander Evans

Reproductive Biology Research Cluster



Prof Martyn E. Pemble

Functional Oxides and Related Material for Electronics (FORME)



Prof David Brayden

Irish Drug Delivery Research Network (IDDN)



Prof. Kieran Hodnett

Solid State Pharmaceuticals Cluster



Prof. A. Stewart Fotheringham

Advanced Geotechnologies



Prof. Karsten Menzel

ICT for Sustainable and Optimised Building Operations



Dr. Frank Hudson Peters

Photonics – Integration “From Atoms to Systems” (PiFAS)



Prof. Kenneth Dawson




Prof. Abhay Pandit

Network of Excellence for Functional Biomaterials (NFB)



Dr Liam Marnane

Efficient Embedded Digital Signal Procession for Mobile Digital Health (EEDSP)



Prof Kingston Mills

Immunology Research Centre



Prof. James MD MacElroy,

Advanced Biomimetics for Solar Energy Conversion



*TNI – Tyndall National Institute, UCC

© Copyright 2007 by Finfacts.com

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