Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 27 December 2014

Research investment 'game-changer'

More than 800 scientists in Ireland will benefit from a major investment in seven research centres
More than 800 scientists in Ireland will benefit from a major investment in seven research centres

A 300 million euro investment in seven world-class research centres has been hailed as a game-changer for the industry.

More than 800 scientists developing cutting-edge research and technologies will be supported by the funding, which includes 200 million euro from the Irish exchequer and 100 million euro in cash and contributions from 150 firms.

Richard Bruton, minister for jobs, enterprise and innovation, said the Government aims to build on the major achievements in scientific research over the last decade and turn more good ideas into good jobs.

"Today's announcement will lead to the establishment in Ireland of world-class centres of research excellence and scale which will be game-changers for Irish scientific research," said Mr Bruton. "This will support more than 800 talented scientists, develop cutting-edge research and new technologies, attract dynamic partnerships with industry and ultimately help to create the jobs we need."

The funding will be delivered through Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) over the next six years, with a mid-term review. Areas benefiting include big data, an internet based information sector currently growing at up to 40% per annum; advanced food research based around microbes which live in the gut; marine renewable energy; and the development of screening and diagnostic tests for perinatal and neonatal conditions.

Others are nanotechnology which will deliver world-leading research across a number of key enterprise sectors; the manipulation and utilisation of light through photonics, and its application in future networks, communications systems and medical devices; and drug synthesis/crystallisation to develop new mechanisms and better control processes to produce new and improved drug formulations and safe medicines.

The SFI revealed the seven funded research centres were selected from 35 proposals following a highly competitive and rigorous international peer review process. They will be based in leading universities across Ireland, which will collaborate with specialists from other institutions and industry partners.

They include University College Cork, University College Dublin, Tyndall National Institute, Trinity College Dublin, University of Limerick, NUI Galway, Dublin City University, Cork Institute of Technology, Teagasc, the Marine Institute, Geological Survey Ireland, Royal College of Surgeons and CSO Cork.

Sean Sherlock, minister for research and innovation, described it as a landmark moment in the evolution of Ireland's research system which will deliver major economic and societal benefits for Ireland in the years to come.

"Today's unprecedented funding announcement will help deliver the quality jobs of the future for Ireland in a range of areas such as information and communications technology, internet based services, pharmaceuticals, medical technologies and energy amongst other things," he added. "The sheer scale of the industry involvement with a commitment so far of over 100 million euro also indicates a major endorsement of Ireland's research capability. Industry globally clearly recognises that this is a really good country in which to conduct their business."

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