New 60 million Euro Scientific Investment in Prioritised Areas -Minister Bruton, Minister Sherlock
- Government funding will support 250 researcher positions across 85 pioneering research projects to further accelerate Ireland’s recovery through innovation
- Projects funded through the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation via Science Foundation Ireland over a wide range of disciplines e.g.
- applied mathematical modelling for industry and engineering;
- research into new anti-viral strategies to combat Hepatitis C; and
- computer-assisted neurosurgery.
The Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton TD and the Minister for Research and Innovation, Sean Sherlock TD, today (Friday, January 25th 2013) announced funding, totalling €60million, dedicated to 85 pioneering research initiatives. Administered via Science Foundation Ireland’s (SFI) Investigator Programme, the 85 research projects will directly support 250 researchers through to 2018. In time this investment will also indirectly support further research initiatives and many more researchers by leveraging significant additional funding from other sources including competitive European research calls.
Prof Stephen O’Brien, UL, Prof Mark Ferguson, SFI, Dr. Emma Creagh, TCD, Mr Sean Sherlock, TD, Minister for Research & Innovation, Professor Michael Gilchrist, UCD
The top-class projects focus on a range of national research priority areas identified by Government as key for developing new commercial
products and services from scientific research, including ICT, health/life sciences, energy and manufacturing competitiveness. The projects being funded have links to 36 companies thus far and the potential for creating jobs is a critical factor.
Making the announcement, Minister Bruton said:
“A central part of this Government’s plan for jobs and growth is to ensure that this research is better targeted at turning the good ideas of researchers into good products and good jobs. That is why we have implemented a series of reforming measures as part of Action Plan for Jobs 2012, including
- Research Prioritisation – investing public money in those areas that are most likely to yield commercial success and grow Jobs.
- A one-stop-shop for commercialising research – through a new Technology Transfer Centre
- New research centres - funding centres of scale and excellence which will forge alliances between industry and research together.
Today’s announcement that Government is investing a further €60million in 85 new research projects supporting 250 researchers
will build on Ireland’s existing research strengths. Approximately 50% of IDA’s company announcements last year had links with Science
Foundation Ireland funded researchers. By supporting these world-class researchers in their ground-breaking work we will ensure that we continue to maintain, attract and develop dynamic companies and create the quality jobs we need.”
Speaking of the SFI Investigator announcement Minister for Research and Innovation Sean Sherlock
“Over the past decade, Ireland has invested heavily in R&D and the rewards are clearly visible. What is particularly heartening about today’s announcement is that much of this excellent research, which was selected competitively following international peer review, is being done in collaboration with companies who are seeking to find new products and services, including IBM Ireland, Intel Ireland, HP, EMC and Bord Gáis.
I want to strongly commend SFI on leading on delivery of Government’s Research Prioritisation objectives. I have no doubt that today’s Investigators awards announcement of the over 80 oriented basic research projects will deliver real economic and societal impacts for Ireland.
Today is yet another visible signal regarding delivery of Government’s Research Prioritisation objectives. I want to congratulate the successful recipients across a diversity of scientific disciplines who have stepped up to the mark and demonstrated the relevance of their research excellence to our enterprise and societal development. It shows that important disciplines such as mathematics have a vital role to play and that Research Prioritisation does not exclude them.”
The individual research projects funded, range in size and scale from approximately €200,000 to €2.7milllion over the next 5 years
and cover a broad range of scientific topics including:
- Computer-assisted neurosurgery
- Inflammatory diseases
- Mathematics for enterprise, science and technology
- Hepatitis C
- Advanced materials and manufacturing
- Tissue engineering
- Carbon sequestration
- Farm waste for Bioenergy
- Disease susceptibility & treatment
- Algae & seaweed
SFIs Investigator Programme is designed to support the development of world-class research and human capital in the areas of science, engineering and mathematics that demonstrably support and underpin enterprise competitiveness and societal development in
Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of SFI, said,
“These 85 funded research projects were selected from 419 applications following rigorous competitive peer review and ranking by eminent international scientists. This 20% success rate is comparable to international funding success rates for example that
of the National Institutes of Health, USA at 18%.”
The investigations cover a broad range of topics including:mathematical modelling of complex industrial, engineering and scientific problems,
understanding, treating and potentially preventing diseases such as diabetes, hepatitis C, cancer, cystic fibrosis, inflammatory disorders, to next generation communications systems, to advanced novel manufacturing technologies, to space science detecting gamma-ray busts
using novel instruments built by Irish based companies which are also applicable in medical imaging. Each project has great potential to impact positively on Ireland’s future: both economically and societally.”
The SFI Investigator Programme 2012 call comprised two streams: projects and awards, the main difference between them being the size and scale of the awards. This year the two streams are merged and a separate programme (SIRG – the Starting Investigator Research Grant) expanded to accept applications from young talented researchers. A follow up 2013 SFI Investigator Programme will be launched next week, on 29th January 2013 which will include an open call and a thematic call funded jointly between SFI and Teagasc, entitled “Future
Under the SFI Investigator Programme (2012 call) - 85 research projects are being funded through 13 Research Bodies as follows: Trinity College Dublin (29), University College Dublin (14), NUI Galway (11), University College Cork (9); NUI Maynooth (5), Tyndall National Institute (3), University of Limerick (3), Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland (3) Dublin City University (3), Institute Technology Tallaght (2),Dublin Institute Technology (1), Institute Technology Sligo (1), and Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies (1).
Examples of Investigator Awards and Projects
Professor Stephen O’Brien, University of Limerick
Applied mathematical modelling applied to enterprise, science and technology (MACSI)
Prof Stephen O’Brien, University of Limerick, Mr Sean Sherlock, TD, Minister for Research & Innovation, Dr. Joanna Mason, University of Limerick
Mathematics is the invisible glue which binds our technology together. Mathematics is involved with most technologies: Weather prediction, climate change, flood prevention; electricity, water supply, sewage treatment; roads, buildings; airline scheduling, supermarket restocking. The award continues the development of the Mathematics Applications Consortium for Science and Industry (MACSI), a collaboration of Irish mathematicians and enterprise partners, which foster new collaborative research, in particular on problems that arise in industry.
Mathematical modellers perceive themselves as being scientists as well as mathematicians and are interested in other disciplines apart from mathematics. Without this philosophy, most modern technology would not exist: airplanes would not fly, man would not have reached the moon, and there would be no radar imaging nor scientific weather forecasts. Modern mathematical models help to quantitatively explain how ultrasound works, how diseases spread, how bubbles move in a pint of stout, how quickly spilt fuel on an airport runway percolates through the underlying soil, how wet paint drips from a ceiling, how the prices of options change. There are even mathematical models for the dynamics of marriage.
Professor Cliona O’Farrelly, Trinity College Dublin
Is Natural Resistance to Hepatitis C in an Irish Cohort Associated with JAK/STAT Resistance to HCV Targeting? Towards New Anti-Viral Strategies
Mr Sean Sherlock, TD, Minister for Research & Innovation, Prof Cliona O’Farrelly, TCD, Dr. Emma Creagh, TCD and Prof Mark Ferguson, SFI
The Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) blocks the function of the body’s immune cells responsible for destroying the virus. We have discovered one way that the virus is able to do this. There is a genetic variation in individuals, who are naturally resistant to Hepatitis C infection that protects them from the blocking effects of the virus. Working with Irish women who received Hepatitis C contaminated injections but resisted infection, we aim to identify the specific features of their immune systems responsible for avoiding Hepatitis C infection. Understanding how the “super” immune systems of these women naturally resist Hepatitis C has the potential to reproduce this beneficial effect in new vaccines and therapies.
Professor Michael Gilchrist, University College Dublin
Characterising Mechanical Properties of Brain Tissue using Novel Micro Indentation Tests
This project is relevant for future advance in the area of computer-assisted neurosurgery. It has implications for the designing of devices that can substitute motor, sensory or cognitive impairments and help develop better neurosurgical instruments. It is also relevant for the engineering and design of accident investigation reconstructions. Current work in this area is based on assuming that the make-up of brain tissue is identical across both the grey matter, containing the cell bodies of the brain, and the white matter, containing the nerves. In fact, this is not the case. This project aims to develop novel test procedures that will characterise these differences in brain tissue across time, and will provide new data that will be accurate at very small scales down to the millimetre.
Dr. Emma Creagh, Trinity College Dublin
Identification & Functional Characterisation of Novel Inflammatory Mediators
Dr. Emma Creagh, TCD, Mr Sean Sherlock, TD, Minister for Research & Innovation, Prof Cliona O’Farrelly, TCD, Prof Mark Ferguson
nflammation is the body’s primary response to infection and injury. This project focuses on an important inflammatory activator which can switch on inflammation. In some cases the hyper-activation of this inflammatory activator can lead to inappropriate activation of inflammation, resulting in many of the inflammatory diseases that exist today. Our preliminary
results have revealed new proteins that bind to this inflammatory activator and have the potential to switch it on or off. The research objective is to confirm these novel binding proteins and identify their role during inflammation. Understanding how our body controls the switching-on and off of inflammatory activators is critical to developing new treatments and drugs to alleviate the symptoms of inflammatory disease.