Belfast Telegraph

Ireland north and south can benefit from opportunities in research

By Dr Kieran Drain

Shared language, proximity and close stakeholder relationships make north- south collaboration a strong proposition for EU research funding. But what must we do to meet the InterTradeIreland North-South drawdown target of €175m (£138m) from the EU Horizon 2020 Funding Programme? More importantly, how can we ensure that excellent science leads to a positive economic impact?

As the head of Tyndall National Institute, Cork, I am keenly aware of the role of research as a catalyst for domestic and international economic development. As a northerner, returned from the US with more than 30 years' industry experience, I am a strong believer in the potential of north-south collaboration.

Tyndall has a strong track record in this regard with key north-south successes to date including industry partnerships with hard disk maker Seagate Technology's R&D centre in Derry-Londonderry and Analytic Engines, a financial analytics firm in Belfast.

We have also participated in numerous strategic Science Foundation Ireland and US-Ireland research projects in ICT, health, agri-science and security with Queen's University Belfast (QUB) and the University of Ulster (UU). Tyndall operates an open access model with all the third level institutions across the island. To date we have hosted 338 access projects with almost 10% involving QUB or UU. A key focus will include exploring opportunities in technology in security, agriculture, food and the environment (Safe) – a multibillion pound market.

Extensive benchmarking has shown that the economic benefit of north-south collaboration is clear – over €80m (£64m) was secured under FP7 on 89 projects. Other opportunities include the US-Ireland Research and Development Partnership Fund which opens up access to Tyndall's €200m (£159m) research infrastructure.

I look forward to working with northern institutions and firms to deliver opportunities for economic growth through research, company engagement and a passion for impact.

Dr Kieran Drain, from Co Antrim, is chief executive of the Tyndall National Institute in Cork, a centre for information and communications technology (ICT) R&D

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