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Posted on October 22, 2014

The Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton TD, and Minister for Skills, Research and Innovation Damien English have announced Government and industry funding of €245 million for the establishment of five new world-class SFI Research Centres in Ireland.

The funding of €155 million from the Department of Jobs will be delivered through Science Foundation Ireland’s (SFI)Research Centres Programme, coupled with €90 million in cash and in-kind contributions from industry partners. The funding will support cutting-edge research in critical and emerging sectors of the economy which are key for job creation in Ireland. The funding will be provided over the next six years, 2014-2020.

University College Dublin will lead on one of the five new research centres announced; the Irish Centre for Research in Applied Geosciences (iCRAG). The Lead Principal Investigator of iCRAG is UCD’s Professor John Walsh.  Ireland is home to Europe’s largest zinc mine, untapped hydrocarbon resources in challenging NE Atlantic deep water environments, and a diverse geological framework with important untapped seabed and groundwater resources. Forming an integrated cluster of researchers with very strong engagement across a range of Geoscience industries, the iCRAG centre will carry out research to find and harness these resources whilst protecting the environment.

Speaking at the announcement, Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton TD, said: “A key part of the Government’s Action Plan for Jobs is to build on the major achievements in scientific research we have built up over the past 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.”

“The €245 million investment announced today, and the five new, large-scale, world-class research centres it will support, are aimed at achieving a step-change in the reputation and performance of Ireland’s research system. This builds on the announcement of seven similar centres last year. With twelve world-class SFI Research Centres, Ireland is now well placed to take the lead developing cutting-edge research and new technologies, ultimately delivering more commercial ideas and jobs.”

Minister for Skills, Research and Innovation, Damien English TD, added, “This investment delivers another milestone for this Government’s Research Prioritisation objectives. These SFI Research Centres are ideally positioned to nurture real collaboration across industry and academia in Ireland which supports increased commercialisation of research and will ultimately grow jobs in the STEM sector. Importantly, these centres will also strongly position Irish based scientists to win funding through the EU Horizon 2020 funding programme, and will enable us to attract further investment from international companies in the future.“

The five SFI Research Centres will be involved in over 165 industry collaborations with partners ranging from multinationals to SMEs.

Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland, said, “These five new SFI Research Centres were selected following a highly competitive and rigorous international peer review process which screened for scientific excellence and assessed potential economic and societal impact. These five SFI Research Centres complement the seven we announced last year – which are already having a major positive impact: making important scientific advances, initiating and enhancing enterprise, training people with appropriate skills, winning EU projects and enhancing Ireland’s international reputation. These SFI Research Centres combine scientific research with deep and significant enterprise engagement, excellence and impact. We are confident that they will make a significant contribution to Ireland’s economy, employment and reputation.”

Professor Orla Feely, UCD Vice President for Research, Innovation and Impact, said, “I am delighted to see UCD researchers leading in SFI Centres, and I congratulate them all.  With SFI support, they will be addressing global challenges in the areas of energy, Internet of Things, software and medical devices, areas of key strategic opportunity for Ireland.  I also welcome the strong industry partnerships that will be at the core of these centres.”

The five centres involve a collaborative partnership across Higher Education Institutions in Ireland with participation from Cork Institute of Technology; Dublin City University; Dublin Institute of Technology; Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies; Dundalk IT; NUI Galway; Maynooth University; Royal College of Surgeons Ireland; Trinity College Dublin; Tyndall National Institute; University College Cork; University College Dublin; University of Limerick and Waterford Institute of Technology.

The five new SFI Research Centres are:

Adapt – (Lead Institution: Trinity College Dublin.)  Adapt’s research will fundamentally change the way in which enterprises, communities and individuals can engage globally in real time. Adapt will enhance efficiencies and global reach for industry partners in key priority sectors for Ireland, including ICT, localisation, financial services, eCommerce, media, entertainment and games, life sciences, eLearning,  digital culture and humanities.

CONNECT Centre for Future Networks & Communications – (Lead Institution: Trinity College Dublin). The CONNECT Centre focuses on future broadband, cellular and Internet-of-Things networks on which all of these services will be enabled; thereby growing the economy and supporting society at large.

CÚRAM Centre for Research in Medical Devices – (Lead Institution: NUI Galway, NUIG). CÚRAM is engaged in research to radically improve health outcomes for patients by developing innovative implantable ‘smart’ medical devices to treat major unmet medical needs. This research will position Ireland as the leader in developing medical device technologies which will provide affordable transformative solutions for chronic diseases.

iCRAG Centre for Research in Applied Geosciences – (Lead Institution: University College Dublin). Ireland is home to Europe’s largest zinc mine, untapped hydrocarbon resources in challenging North East Atlantic deep water environments, and a diverse geological framework with important untapped seabed and groundwater resources. The iCRAG centre will carry out research to find and harness these resources whilst protecting the environment.

LERO The Irish Software Research Centre – (Lead Institution:University of Limerick). LERO’s research mission is to replicate the success of traditional software engineering in the context of large-scale, pervasive, physically-integrated, highly interconnected, evolving, and continuously-available systems, in which the boundary between design-time and runtime is disappearing.

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