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Ministers Bruton and Sherlock announce funding of €47million for scientific research

  • Government funding will support 200 researcher positions working on 36 research projects involving over 62 companies
  • Major investment will support world-class research in key priority areas in Ireland.

Wednesday 30th April 2014 – The Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton TD and the Minister for Research and Innovation Seán Sherlock TD today announced €47 million in funding for pioneering research initiatives, delivered by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, through the Science Foundation Ireland Investigators Programme. The Programme will provide funding over a three to five year period, for 36 research projects involving over 200 researchers. Funding for each project will range from €400,000 to €3.1 million.

Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) have today announced €47 million in funding for 36 pioneering research initiatives, through the Science Foundation Ireland Investigators Programme.  Pictured Minister for Research and Innovation, Seán Sherlock TD, Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland, Prof. Douwe van Sinderen, UCC, whose project is one of the 36 being funded.

Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) have today announced €47 million in funding for 36 pioneering research initiatives, through the Science Foundation Ireland Investigators Programme.

Pictured Minister for Research and Innovation, Seán Sherlock TD, Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland, Prof. Douwe van Sinderen, UCC, whose project is one of the 36 being funded.

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton TD said: “Central to our Action Plan for Jobs is ensuring that we focus our on research and innovation on job-creation – turning good ideas into good jobs. The funding we are announcing today will directly support over 200 highly skilled researchers in Ireland through to 2019, and is linked to 62 private sector companies. This investment through SFI helps to develop Ireland’s international reputation for excellent research with impact. This allows us to continue to attract foreign-direct investment, as well as to support Irish companies, long-term economic competitiveness and most importantly ultimately job-creation.”

Minister for Research and Innovation, Seán Sherlock TD said: “This major investment will support world-class research in key priority areas that support economic and social development in Ireland. By concentrating on sectors of strength, the SFI Investigators Programme aligns funding to areas of increasing national and international importance. This will create many opportunities for successful collaboration between industry and Ireland’s science ecosystem.”

The Science Foundation Ireland Investigators Programme supports excellent scientific research that has the potential to impact Ireland’s economic and societal development. The 36 projects were selected by competitive peer review by 400 international scientists, focusing on excellent research with potential impact.

The successfully funded projects have links to 62 companies, and include research in areas such as sustainable food production, enhancing communications networks to enable high quality internet video, developing innovative wave energy devices, biopharmaceutical production, cancer detection and investigating the control of epilepsy development.

Two research projects have been selected as part of the SFI Teagasc Future Agri-Food Partnership to be co-funded by Teagasc. These research projects will focus on pregnancy testing in dairy cattle and developing precision technology for sustainable pasture based farming.  A further three projects in Future Agri-Food will be funded by SFI focusing on sustainable agriculture, fertility in cattle and microbiology for food.

Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland, said: “The Investigators Programme will support Ireland’s research community in developing projects that can lead and win in Horizon 2020. Not only will it provide direct support for over 200 researchers, the programme will also have an indirect impact on many other research programmes by allowing for the development of further research links with industry in Ireland and internationally. Of 210 applications, 36 projects were successful – a similar success rate to other international research funding programmes.  A further five projects were also deemed scientifically excellent and impactful by the International Review Panel and are on a reserve list to be funded, if budgets permit later in the year.

Under the SFI’s Investigators Programme, 36 research projects were funded through 10 research bodies, as follows: University College Dublin (7), Trinity College Dublin (7), University College Cork (4), Dublin City University (4), Tyndall National Institute (3), University of Limerick (3), Teagasc (2), National University of Ireland Galway (2), National University of Ireland Maynooth (2) and Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (2).

Examples of projects supported:

Dr Laurence Shalloo (Teagasc) & Dr William Donnelly (Waterford Institute of Technology): Smart-Agri

Dr Shalloo and Dr Donnelly’s research focuses on the use of information and communication technologies for agriculture, often referred to as smart agriculture or e-agriculture. Smart-agri is critically important due to increasing herd size, requirement for increased efficiency, public concern for animal well-being and environmental sustainability. Some smart-agri applications are already in place such as milk recording; others are in development, such as real-time information on stomach activity in cows. The proposed research focusses on using information from grass and animal sensors to deliver effective farm management information. This approach will enable more efficient farming, will grow a new e-agri industry in Ireland, and will help realise the Food Harvest 2020 targets.

Prof. Cormac Sreenan (University College Cork): Future Internet

Prof. Cormac Sreenan researches the Future Internet. Recent years have seen a dramatic increase in Internet video, which now represents over half of all consumer traffic and is set to reach 69% by 2017. Most video is delivered using the traditional internet which was designed for an entirely different purpose. In addition, due to its popularity, video traffic is beginning to overload the global internet. These problems can result in poor video quality, or video start-up delays, or frequent pauses. This research will enhance the future internet, enable high-quality Internet video, and yield costs savings for Irish and global consumers of internet video. 

Prof. Andrew Fowler (University of Limerick): Mathematics

The microbes, fungi, and plants present in soil, called biomass, are critical enablers of Irish and global agriculture. Biomass controls plant nutrient uptake, and so is crucial for agricultural productivity. The application of fertilisers to agricultural land, or the on-site microbial treatment of septic tank effluent both constitute situations where excess biological growth may occur, and this can lead to environmental pollution. Prof. Fowler’s proposed research will use applied mathematics to study plant, microbial, and fungal biomass growth and its dependence on soil nutrients. The researchers will validate their theories against field and experimental data. This research will provide predictive tools for use in fertiliser application and other areas of agriculture, septic tank installations, and many other situations concerning soil.

Dr. Conor McCarthy (University of Limerick): Composite Materials

High performance Formula 1 race cars and the latest aeroplanes are made of carbon fibre, a composite material. Composite materials can be stronger, lighter and less expensive than traditional materials.  Strong and durable connections between composites and metals are required to create many everyday life items, from the very large (buildings, aircraft, trains and bridges) to the very small (medical implants and electronic devices). Dr. McCarthy’s project studies a new approach to join composites to metals which does not require any mechanical fastening. Such an approach would be highly advantageous to manufacturers, allowing them to make cheaper but higher performing products.  The research project will open up new business opportunities for Ireland and worldwide.

Prof. Douwe van Sinderen (University College Cork): Microbiology for Food

Prof. Douwe van Sinderen’s research focuses on how viruses which infect bacteria used in the production of cheese and yoghurt can cause major problems during the manufacture of such dairy products. Prof van Sinderen aims to better understand how to prevent viral infection to facilitate consistent and reliable production of high quality and safe dairy products. This is particularly important since the dairy industry is a major player in the Irish food sectors, with dairy exports exceeding €3 billion in 2013.

Prof. Seamas Donnelly (University College Dublin):  Cystic Fibrosis

Prof. Seamas Donnelly seeks to address a major world health problem, namely the treatment of serious infection caused by a particular aggressive bug called Pseudomonas aeruginosa. During infection, Pseudomonas can develop into a biofilm where the bacteria form sticky aggregates, making them more difficult to treat with antibiotics. This type of infection is particularly common in patients with Cystic Fibrosis, a disease where the lungs produce large quantities of mucus, making lung infections more likely. Prof Donnelly aims to deliver new therapies which will prevent biofilm production and makes the bacteria easier to treat with antibiotics. A test which identifies those patients who would best respond to this new treatment will also be developed.

Prof. Emmanuelle Graciet (National University of Ireland, Maynooth): Sustainable Food

Prof. Emmanuelle Graciet’s research will address global agriculture issues such as crop yield and sustainability. The dramatic reduction in annual crop production as a result of plant infections causes food shortages and famine in the developing world, a problem that will be exacerbated by the continuing increase in the world’s population. The proposed research will result in novel insights into the mechanisms underlying plant immunity, which will open up new avenues for reducing the economic impact of plant infections. Prof Graciet will exploit these opportunities by generating improved turnip and rapeseed plants which are more resistant to infections.

Prof. Siobhan Clarke (Trinity College Dublin) & Dr Dirk Pesch (Cork Institute of Technology): Smart Cities

Professor Siobhan Clarke and Dr Dirk Pesch work on using information and communications technologies to improve the quality of life of city dwellers around the world. Urban environments have limited resources such as road networks, energy and water. These resources are under increasing strain as a result of population growth. Such resources could be managed in a better way if there was better access to real-time, city-wide information on how the resources are being used. This project will investigate the design of communications technologies which improve the accessibility of this information for urban services providers. This will allow improved management of city resources, resulting in less traffic, a reduction in water shortages, and fewer power-cuts. 

List of Funded Projects

Name

Research Body

Research Title

Total Award*

John Atkins

UCC

Dynamic redefinition of codons: From antivirals to an essential micronutrient

€1,523,518

Niall Barron

DCU

Improving Biopharmaceutical productivity from industrial CHO cell lines by microRNA knockdown

€562,641

Francis Boland

TCD

Spatial audio over virtual and irregular arrays

€626,341

Siobhan Clarke & Dirk Pesch

TCD

CIT

SURF: Service-centric networking for urban-scale feedback systems

€1,948,428

Martin Clynes

DCU

Phenotype Engineering using MicroRNAs in Chinese Hamster Ovary (CHO) Cells to Achieve Faster Growth Rate and Extended Culture Lifespan for more Efficient Biopharmaceutical Production

€1,526,898

Thomas Cotter

UCC

Cell survival signalling mechanisms and drug delivery strategies for retinal neuroprotection

€1,145,954

John Dingliana & Michael Manzke

TCD

aRTIVVIS: Real-time Time-variant Volume Visualisation

€852,319

Michael Diskin & Mark Crowe

Teagasc

UCD

The development of early non-invasive and reliable molecular biomarkers of pregnancy in dairy cattle.

€1,162,915

Seamas Donnelly

UCD

Macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF), enzymatic activity & Pseudomonas Aeruginosa infection

€1,741,156

Andrew Fowler

UL

Mathematical modelling of soil biomass

€1,544,841

Emmanuelle Graciet

NUIM

Regulation of Plant Immunity through Protein Degradation by the N-end Rule Pathway

€799,910

Jim Greer & Giorgos Fagas

TNI

SMALL: Semi-Metal ALL-in-One Technologies

€977,061

Thorfinnur Gunnlaugsson

TCD

Supramolecular approach to novel nano-materials for biological and material applications

€3,145,860

Andreas Heise & Sally-Ann Cryan

DCU

RCSI

Functional polymers for (nano)medical devices

€1,925,468

David Henshall

RCSI

MicroRNA biofluid profiles as molecular diagnostics for epilepsy

€909,433

Gregory Hughes

DCU

Copper diffusion barrier layers for advanced interconnect integration

€899,535

Stefan Hutzler

TCD

Usage of peat biomass in novel products obtained with fibre-foam dispersions

€592,372

Michael Peter Kennedy

TNI

Advanced Frequency Synthesis Informed by Nonlinear Dynamics

€1,256,559

Patrick Lonergan

UCD

Reducing embryo mortality through improved understanding of embryo maternal communication

€866,991

Noel Lowndes

NUIG

The ATR and ATM kinases: new roles in maintaining genome stability.

€1,800,575

Conor McCarthy

UL

Fastener-less Joining Technologies for High Performance Hybrid Composites-Metal Structures

€1,346,127

Gary McGuire

UCD

Theory and Application for the Discrete Logarithm Problem in Finite Fields: setting a Cryptographic World Record

€634,291

Michael O'Neill

UCD

App'ED

€1,812,988

Stefan Oscarson

UCD

Design, Synthesis, and Development of Carbohydrate–Based Vaccines, Therapeutics, Diagnostics, and Medical Devices.

€1,971,203

Frank Peters

TNI

Injection locking within Photonic Integrated Circuits supporting high spectral density optical communications

€1,740,070

Jochen Prehn

RCSI

BCL-2 family proteins and cellular bioenergetics in the control of cell survival: Towards novel predictive and prognostic markers for disease progression and therapy responses in colorectal cancer patients

€2,266,294

John Ringwood

NUIM

Development of the next generation of controllers for wave energy devices

€1,479,862

Wolfgang Schmitt

TCD

Bio-inspired Chemical Transformations in Confined Supramolecular Environments of Nanoscopic Coordination Cages and Metal-Organic Frameworks

€1,240,818

Mathias Senge

TCD

Molecular Scaffolds and Functional Design - Porphyrins as Platforms for Biomedical Applications

€2,116,052

Laurence Shalloo & William Donnelly

Teagasc

WIT

Using precision technologies, technology platforms and computational biology to increase the economic and environmental sustainability of pasture based production systems

€1,371,423

Sanbing Shen & Louise Gallagher

NUIG

TCD

Role of NRXN1 in neurodevelopmental disorders: from stem cells to clinical phenotypes

€1,733,274

Cormac Sreenan

UCC

An Internet Infrastructure for Video Streaming Optimisation (iVID)

€1,123,443

Douwe van Sinderen

UCC

Functional analysis of the host adsorption and DNA injection processes of a lactococcal bacteriophage

€1,380,436

Gavin Walker

UL

Model Predictive Control of Continuous Pharmaceutical Processes

€1,202,653

Wenxin Wang

UCD

In situ formed Skin Substitute in Combination with Gene Therapy for Wound Healing

€1,188,389

Kenneth Wolfe

UCD

Sexual cycles, genomics, and mating-type switching in non-conventional yeast species

€921,625

*Subject to final agreement with Awardee/Research Body; inclusive of approx. 30% overhead payment to Research Body

Reserve List Projects*

Name

Research Body

Research Title

Total Award*

Charles Dorman

TCD

Bacterial nucleoid associated protein expression and stress resistance in pathogens

€1,228,466

Ann Hopkins

RCSI

Understanding the mechanistic role and druggability of JAM-A, an emerging upstream regulator of breast cancer tumourigenic signalling, using in vitro and in vivo methodologies and a novel small molecule inhibitor

€516,676

Shane O’Mara

TCD

Exploring the role of the thalamo-claustral system in spatial navigation

€854,134

Abhay Pandit

NUIG

Functionalised Biomaterials for Spatiotemporal Therapeutic Delivery

€1,158,777

Charles Spillane

NUIG

Harnessing epigenetic and genome dosage effects on hybrid vigour for sustainable crop and food production

€1,246,031

*Five projects were deemed scientifically excellent and impactful by the International Review Panel and are on a reserve list to be funded, if budgets permit, funding maybe approved later in the year.