We are living in unprecedented times as we respond to the challenges presented by COVID-19 at a national and global level. At times of such challenge we ask ourselves in our communities and in our work, what can we do to help. As the national foundation for investment in scientific and engineering research, Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) and the research community we support have an important role to play.
First, it’s essential that we support our employees, researchers and partners. We are working with the Health Research Board and Irish Research Council to prioritise the safety and wellbeing of our researchers, participants and teams and will be providing due consideration on a case by case basis to ongoing research and call deadlines that will be affected by COVID-19. Our agencies are working collaboratively with higher education institutions and are closely monitoring the impact on Ireland’s research community. For further information see our joint statement. We are also liaising with other research funders around the world to ensure that Irish researchers are treated similarly to many of their counterparts eg in EU, UK, USA so that they remain competitive internationally - see statement from the Global Research Council.
Second and crucially, SFI is working together with IDA Ireland, Enterprise Ireland, the Health Research Board and Irish Research Council to execute an efficient and effective coordinated Rapid Response Research, Development and Innovation programme to help mitigate and manage the COVID-19 pandemic. Two calls for proposals have been launched. The first focuses on medical countermeasures, health service readiness and social and policy countermeasures led by the Health Research Board and the Irish Research Council. The second funding call focuses on the development of innovative solutions that can have a rapid demonstratable impact on COVID-19 in Ireland, led by SFI, Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland. More details on both are available here.
Finally, we are stronger when we work together. SFI will work closely with our colleagues in other agencies and government departments ,the public and private sectors , the academic and commercial research / innovation communities ,and research / innovation bodies globally to share the latest knowledge, developments and innovations, and to collaborate and develop shared solutions to the many challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. To this end, we have developed a Five Point Plan which represents SFI’s contribution to the Irish Government’s National Action Plan in response to Covid-19. The plan outlines key activities where SFI believe we and the research community can make a positive impact. Details of our Five Point Plan can be found here together with links to the information portals we have established.
As we come together as a research community and as a nation, I would like to thank those working tirelessly to provide healthcare services and delivering essential services. We in the scientific and research community, working together with our agency partners and Government will do everything we can to help.
Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland