Colm Gorey

SFI funding
Image: science photo/Shutterstock

Science Foundation Ireland’s (SFI) Investigators Programme is set to make the lives of almost 100 researchers that bit better with the allocation of €43m in funding for projects over the next five years.

Announced by Minister for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development John Halligan, TD, this morning (21 September), the SFI Investigators Programme has also agreed in principle to fund an additional 33 scientifically excellent projects based on the recommendations of an international peer-review panel. However, these projects are on a reserve list to be supported if the budget permits later in the year.

The 26 projects under the programme cover many different areas of sci-tech, but the most notable is an effort to develop new types of antibiotics, led by Prof Martin Caffrey from Trinity College Dublin (TCD). It received the single greatest amount of funding, at €2m.

Yesterday (20 September), the World Health Organisation made a plea for the development of new antibiotics as resistance to them increases globally.

Other projects in this round include the development of magnetic materials for next-generation data processing; design for advanced materials for energy-efficient carbon capture and natural gas storage; and personalised cancer treatment methods.

Standards of applications ‘exceptionally high’

Of the Irish universities where research projects are being funded, TCD has achieved the greatest success with nine projects, followed by University College Cork and University College Dublin, with three projects each.

Prof Mark Ferguson, director general of SFI, said: “The standard of applications for the SFI Investigators Programme was exceptionally high. The quality and quantity of excellent projects on the reserve list is clear evidence of the increasingly high standard of research in Ireland.

“I have the highest expectations for the projects funded today, and look forward to seeing the benefits to Ireland’s society and economy.”

Minister Halligan added: “In addition, today’s investment provides 20 companies with access to invaluable expertise and infrastructure across the country.

“These collaborations between industry and academia are integral to further enhancing Ireland’s reputation for research excellence.”

This news comes soon after the launch of four new SFI centres across the country, representing an investment of €74m from the Government over the next six years, with a €40m investment from industry.