Tag Archive | "SFI"

Origin and UCD Form €17.6 Million Crop Science Research Partnership


Origin Enterprises plc and University College Dublin established a €17.6 million, five-year agriculture and crop science research programme, UCD announced on Monday.

The collaboration combines the leading expertise of UCD in data science and agricultural science with Origin’s integrated crop management research, systems capabilities and extensive on-farm knowledge exchange networks.

“The collaboration provides Origin with a development platform which accesses the very substantial intellectual capacity, advanced data analytics, sensing technologies and modelling resources of UCD Origin CEO Tom O’Mahony said. “The merging of conventional crop science and agronomic application with digital technology and prescriptive data analytics will enhance Origin’s knowledge-intensive offering along with improving the capacity to scale our service.”

A cornerstone of the partnership will be the creation of scalable, dynamic and integrated crop models which incorporate consistent and real-time data-driven and data-analytical approaches that optimise sustainable crop performance through enabling enhanced predictive intelligence capabilities at field level.

“The SFI Strategic Partnership Programme supports unique research partnerships with strong potential for impact on the Irish economy,” said Chief Scientific Advisor to the Government of Ireland Mark Ferguson. “Combining the resources and expertise from these organisations will secure Ireland’s international position in the field of data-driven agriculture. The proposed integrated crop model will have global implications in the sustainable production of crops, addressing the challenge of food production for a rapidly expanding global population,” he said.

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Launch of the 20th annual science week at Government buildings


To mark the 20th annual Science Week, which takes place next week from the 8th – 15th November, An Taoiseach Enda Kenny, T.D. attended a showcase of Irish science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) at Government Buildings.

The event provided an insight into the work being carried out across the country at all levels from primary schools to universities and leading companies such as Pfizer, EMC Ireland, IMB, MSD Ireland and Eli Lilly.

Speaking at the event the Taoiseach said “Science, technology and innovation have been at the core of our economic recovery. I am delighted, together with Minister English and Science Foundation Ireland, to celebrate the 20th Science Week by seeing first hand some of the astonishing work that is happening across the country and across all of our society from the students and teachers to the leading researchers in our universities and companies.”

He went on the encourage people to get involved in the events throughout the week, “Science Week will see free events taking place all across the country and it provides everyone with the opportunity to explore and discover some of the truly remarkable science, technology, engineering and maths work happening in Ireland and to discover what opportunities are out there for everyone. I encourage everyone, including public representatives, to take part, support science in their county and get involved with at least one event next week.”

Minister for Skills, Research & Innovation, Damien English explained the importance of Ireland’s talent and not just our tax,“Future proofing Ireland’s economic recovery means we have to compete on talent not just on tax. Science Week is all about inspiring talented young people to think about a STEM career and inspire them them to use their talents to shape a better future for everyone. My message to young people and their parents is that STEM offers great careers and a bright future. I agree with Bill Nye – There’s nothing I believe in more strongly than getting young people interested in science and engineering, for a better tomorrow, for all humankind.”

Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General, Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland spoke about the importance of education in science, “Importantly the showcase also included children, students and their teachers who have excelled in winning national and international awards for their science projects, illustrating that there is a rich pipeline of outstanding talent to fuel Ireland’s future development and prosperity. These high achieving attendees come from all across the country illustrating the importance and pervasiveness of scientific advances to both rural and urban Ireland – a fact also reflected in this year’s Science Week programme with over 800 events planned across Ireland and an expected 250,000 participants.”

See here for more details on Science Week.

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Irish Industry and Govt to invest €245m in five new SFI research centres


A €245m investment commitment – comprising €155m from the State and €90m from industry – is to be invested in establishing five new world class SFI Research Centres that will support up to 700 researcher positions.

The investment was unveiled this morning by Jobs Minister Richard Bruton TD  and Innovation Minister Damien English TD.

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.

“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,” Bruton said.

“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.”

Collaborative Partnership

The five SFI Research Centres will be involved in over 165 industry collaborations with partners ranging from multinationals to SMEs and including Intel, Google, Microsoft,Medtronic Vascular Galway Ltd, Xilinx, Huawei and many more.

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.

Today’s investment marks the second tranche of funding under the SFI Research Centres Programme; last year €300 million (€200 from SFI and €100 from industry) in funding was announced for seven research centres, the largest ever combined Government and Industry co-funding collaboration of its kind in the research field in Ireland.

“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,” said Prof Mark Ferguson, director general of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Advisor to the Irish Government.

“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.”

The five new SFI research centres

Adapt – Global digital connectivity

Global digital connectivity enables enterprises, communities and individuals to share information and communicate globally at incredible speed, in enormous volumes, across the world’s languages and over an ever-increasing number of devices. 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

The key challenges that face society all drive the need for new and varied forms of networked services. These include mobile Internet, connected health, smart agriculture, smart grids and metering, and environmental monitoring services. 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

As the global population ages, one in three people are expected to be over 65 by 2050, with the potential financial burden for healthcare expected to rise. 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

Geoscience underpins the discovery of raw materials, water and energy resources that are critical to the world’s economy. With increasing demand and diminishing supply, focused innovations in geoscience are of paramount importance globally. 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

Software is everywhere and key Irish industry sectors such as manufacturing, medical devices, financial services, cloud computing, analytics, and smart cities depend on it. 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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Employment bodies focus on STEM success as Leaving Cert results are revealed


As almost 57,000 students receive their Leaving Certificate results in Ireland today, Project Maths has proven its success and interest in STEM is growing, but we can’t forget foreign languages.

Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) announced a number of milestones reached with this year’s Leaving Cert results. For starters, almost 450 additional students took chemistry, 84pc of whom opted for the higher level paper. Meanwhile, physics saw the biggest percentage increase across all the science subjects this year at 11.3pc.

Business and employer association Ibec welcomed the continued increase in the uptake of higher-level maths, with 27.3pc of students sitting these papers this year compared to less than 16pc three years ago, and it has been revealed that more than 72pc of those achieved a minimum grade C.

“Increased ability in maths is required by a huge range of businesses. The subject also opens the possibility for larger numbers of students to take science and technology courses that have higher-level maths as a basic requirement,” said Ibec head of education policy Tony Donohoe.

Project Maths lessons to be learned

Donohoe highlighted the career opportunities in technology and the predicted growth of this sector as the Irish economy recovers, and his sentiments have been echoed by chief executive of the American Chamber of Commerce, Mark Redmond.

“Each year, industry looks to the Leaving Cert results as an indicator of the quality of talent that is being produced by our education system. It is, therefore, very encouraging that we are continuing to see an increase in the number of students studying the vital STEM subjects, particularly at a higher level,” he said.

Redmond credited the ‘bonus points’ system for driving higher numbers to take higher-level maths and believes further reform could encourage students to choose subjects relevant to future careers.

“Unfortunately, we continue to see high failure rates in the science subjects, which are key skills for many of the modern foreign direct investment companies located in Ireland. As the lessons of Project Maths continue to be learned, they should be adapted and applied to support students studying in the sciences also,” he added.

Students have STEM subjects in mind

That said, a recent survey of 1,000 Irish secondary school students aged 13 to 18 revealed that STEM subjects are at the forefront of their minds.

The survey, commissioned by BT, organiser of the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition, found that 86pc of students believe STEM subjects are likely to offer the best career opportunities, and more than 72pc plan to study a STEM subject at third level.

However, while 73pc said STEM subjects are promoted in their schools, 36pc believe that boys receive more encouragement to pursue these subjects than girls.

Foreign languages in decline

Additionally, Ibec highlighted declining numbers of those taking French and German at Leaving Cert level. But with many international tech companies locating their European headquarters in Ireland, language skills are not to be overlooked.

“We continue to see significant numbers of unfilled job vacancies that require modern languages,” said Donohoe.

“It’s vital that we don’t find ourselves at a competitive disadvantage when it comes to selling into global markets and attracting foreign investment.”

UK students favour coding careers

Meanwhile, in the UK, a survey from online learning platform FutureLearn ahead of the release of A-Level results tomorrow, ranks coding as the top career choice among 1,000 students aged 16 to 18, with 23pc of the vote.

Medicine is UK students’ second choice at 22pc, followed by law and marketing at 16pc, and forensic science at 15pc.

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SFI reports largest govt/industry collaboration yet – €300m in seven research centres


Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) has delivered what it says it the largest govt/industry collaboration yet – seven research centres in areas like big data amounting to an investment of €300m over six years.

The centres will support over 800 top class researcher positions and are anticipated to lead to the creation of up to 1,000 jobs as additional non-Exchequer funding is leveraged during their lifetime.

The research centres are designed to help Ireland to attract further foreign direct investment, as well as create new spin-off companies and high tech start-ups.

SFI intends to expand the Research Centres Programme in 2014.

The science of economic impact

In its 2013 annual report SFI invested €152m in 307 new research awards to 20 institutions in Ireland.

During 2013 some 2,656 researchers were supported through SFI programmes.

SFI funded researchers attracted €56m in EU research funding during 2013.

Some 54 patents were registered, 27 technologies licensed and four spin-off companies were created during the year.

The agency says Ireland’s international scientific reputation has been enhanced through some 1,955 national and international collaborations in 48 countries.

In terms of industry collaboration SFI supported more than 900 joint projects with industry.

The national science agency said that Ireland is now ranked 1st in the world for Immunology, 1st for Animal and Dairy, 3rd for Nanosciences, 4th in Computer Science and 6th for Materials Science.

Best-in-class internationally

“Last year was an important year for SFI, the agency’s director general and the Government’s chief scientific advisor Professor Mark Ferguson said.

“SFI’s operating model is now best in class internationally with a much lower cost base than our peers in other countries. SFI’s SESAME system for the accurate collection of a comprehensive suite of output and impact metrics went live in 2013 and this along with ongoing international benchmarking will allow us to better measure and evaluate SFI’s overall economic impact in the years ahead.”

“Importantly during 2013 SFI fostered the development of the academic/industrial research ecosystem in Ireland. Later this year, the SFI Spokes Programme will allow new industry partners, new research projects and new capabilities to be added to the seven SFI Research Centres delivered in 2013.

“Our new Industry Fellowship programme provides an important career development pathway for Ireland’s researchers and a major opportunity for both multinational companies and indigenous enterprises which will in turn lead to increased employment levels and further economic development,” Ferguson said.

Jobs Minister Richard Bruton said innovation and research are key facets of the Government’s strategy to create new jobs.

“The results contained in today’s SFI annual report show that this strategy is beginning to pay off.

“Most importantly, the figures show that approximately two-thirds of the job announcements made by the IDA in 2013 had a link to SFI research. I commend Mark Ferguson and all his team on these impressive results, and look forward to working with them in the coming years.”

SFI said among its priorities for 2014 is a focus on empowering Irish researchers to lead and win in the EU’s €70bn Horizon 2020 programme and fund collaborative research in Ireland on an all-island basis.

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40 projects to receive €23m from SFI and Irish Government


Forty scientific projects ranging from microbiology to clean energies are to benefit from €23m in research funding, the result of a deal between Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) and the Irish Government.

SFI and Seán Sherlock, the Minister for Research and Innovation, revealed the funding at the Science Gallery in Dublin.

The €23m aims to help ensure Ireland’s most talented young researchers remain in Ireland, while also helping to attract excellent young researchers from other countries to base themselves in Ireland.

The funding is being delivered by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, through SFI’s Starting Investigator Research Grant (SIRG) and Career Development Award (CDA) Programmes. The fund is to support researchers and post-graduate students working on projects in areas such as cancer research, neurological disorders, immunology, microbiology, biotherapeutics, wireless networks, and sustainable and renewable energy.

The 40 projects awarded funding ranging from €440,000 to €812,000 are from institutes all across Ireland. They include:

  • Trinity College Dublin (with five projects)
  • National University of Ireland Galway (five projects)
  • RoyalCollege of Surgeons in Ireland (four projects)
  • DublinCityUniversity (four projects)
  • UniversityCollege Cork (four projects)
  • University of Limerick (four projects)
  • National University of Ireland Maynooth (three projects)
  • UniversityCollegeDublin (three projects)
  • National Institute for Bioprocessing Research and Training (three projects)
  • Teagasc (two projects)
  • Tyndall National Institute (two projects)
  • Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies (one project)

The SFI’s director-general Mark Ferguson spoke of how a further 12 projects just missed out on this fund but may be considered in the foundation’s budgets later this year.

The highest amount of funding has been presented to Fatima Gunning of the Tyndall Institute and her project entitled Software Defined Control of Superchannel Transponders for super-Tb/s Elastic Optical Networks, which received €812,000 as part of the 2013 CDA-approved awards.

Ferguson also described this funding as another way of creating better channels between academia and commercial developments.

“Both of the programmes under which funding is being announced today will help promising young researchers to create and develop impactful careers here in Ireland and in turn enable the pursuit of scientific research that has potential economic and societal impact.”

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Royal Society signs deal with SFI for research fellowships


The Royal Society in the UK and Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) have signed an agreement whereby Ireland’s leading young scientists will be awarded a prestigious research fellowship by the Royal Society with the best early career researchers from the UK.

Funded by the SFI, applications from Ireland will be subject to a high-quality peer review by the Royal Society alongside applications from the UK.

Under the fellowship, outstanding early career researchers based within eligible research bodies in Ireland may apply for up to five years’ research funding, including salary in the first instance, with the possibility to apply for competitive renewal for an additional three years.

Open for applications on 18 July, the scheme is to cover all areas of life and physical sciences, including engineering and mathematics, but excluding clinical medicine and direct biomedical research, already covered by the Research Career Development Fellowship.

Prof Sir John Pethica, vice-president of the Royal Society and professor of physics at Trinity College Dublin, said university research fellowships are for the brightest and best young researchers.

“We are pleased that scientists at Irish institutions will now be able to join those in the UK,” Pethica said.

“International collaboration is an increasingly important aspect of science. The initiation of this scheme reflects an awareness of the value of supporting all excellent research and providing young scientists with the room and space to flourish.”

Prof Mark Ferguson, director-general of the SFI, said the interaction of Ireland-based researchers with their UK peers over their fellowship will foster research collaborations between Ireland and the UK both now and in the future.

“I encourage all of the excellent young scientists in Ireland to apply and win one of these prestigious Royal Society-SFI University Research Fellowships.”

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Irish scientists to get €47m for new research projects


More than 200 scientists in Ireland are to receive a total of almost €50 million in funding for new research projects over the next five years.

The money is coming from the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, through Science Foundation Ireland’s Investigators Programme.

The programme aims to support scientific research that has the potential to bring economic and social benefits to the country.

Over 200 people submitted ideas that were reviewed by 400 international scientists.

A total of 36 projects, involving over 200 Irish-based researchers, were selected for grants of up to €3.1m.

The research focuses on a range of areas, including Information and Communications Technology (ICT), health sciences and energy.

In total €47m will be made available to the scientists between now and 2019.

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton said the funding would help attract foreign direct investment, as well as support 62 private sector companies.

SFI Director General Professor Mark Ferguson said the programme would have an indirect impact on many other research initiatives by allowing for the development of further research links with industry.

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