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North-South research programme to ‘transform’ links across border

Taoiseach Micheal Martin said it will allow people on both sides of the border to work together to address ‘common challenges’.

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Further and Higher Education Minister Simon Harris (Michelle Devane/PA)

Further and Higher Education Minister Simon Harris (Michelle Devane/PA)

Further and Higher Education Minister Simon Harris (Michelle Devane/PA)

A 40 million euro (£34 million) cash injection to fund a North-South research programme will “transform” the quality of research and links between institutions on both sides of the border.

The investment, provided through the Shared Island Fund, will support the higher education institutions, researchers and research communities in Northern Ireland and the Republic.

Projects could receive a maximum of 100,000 euro (£86,000) per year for up to two years, while larger projects could receive up to one million euro (£857,000) per year for up to four years.

The funding will support researchers based in an Irish higher education institution (HEI) to collaborate with a researcher in an HEI in Northern Ireland on a research project, or research teams to collaborate.

Taoiseach Micheal Martin and Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris announced the research programme.

Mr Martin said it will allow people on both sides of the border to work together to address “common challenges”.

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“Key issues like the humanities and social sciences in the digital age, research infrastructure and trade flows have been moved forward by policies and innovation built through collaboration,” Mr Martin said on Monday.

“Perhaps the most significant area of collaboration has been in the most important area, for not just Ireland but indeed the world – energy and climate change.

“North-South co-operation in research is not new, but neither is it operated at a level it could and should be.

“A multimillion euro investment from the Shared Island unit that we are announcing today is our attempt to begin to change this.

“We want to see researchers and third level institutions engage with the programme to develop a new generation of first class innovative projects which would further build on our island’s reputation in world-leading research.”

Mr Harris said: “I genuinely believe this announcement has an ability to be not just transformational in terms of funding high quality research, but also transformational in terms of those linkages that will further imbed between institutions in Northern Ireland and institutions in the Republic of Ireland.

“There’s no doubt our world is facing massive challenges, be it the Covid-19 pandemic, climate action, digitalisation, how we age, how we live, how we work.

“These are problems that are ignorant of boundaries, they’re ignorant of borders, they don’t care, and tackling such huge challenges requires us all working together.”

Tim Conlon of the HEA said: “There is a lot of pent-up opportunity in the higher education and research system, allowing people to work together on those shared policies and shared challenges.”


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