6th April 2023: Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris TD has today welcomed Government agreement for the Heads of Bill providing for the establishment of a new Research and Innovation funding agency and the amalgamation of the Irish Research Council and Science Foundation Ireland. 

The publication of the General Scheme of the Research and Innovation Bill 2023 will begin the process of creating a new agency which will capitalise on the recognised strengths of the IRC and SFI, drive world class research and innovation in Ireland and work collaboratively with other research funders and enterprise, both in Ireland and internationally.

Speaking today, Minister Harris said: “This is an exciting day for research and innovation in Ireland as we take another vital step towards achieving the overarching objective of Impact 2030 to ensure that Ireland’s collective research and innovation investments and activities make as big a difference as possible to as many people as possible.

“In order to achieve this, the new research and innovation agency will drive research and innovation excellence in all disciplines across the spectrum of Arts, Engineering, Humanities, Mathematics, Science, Social Sciences, Technology and others.

“This is essential in order to ensure that Ireland has a resilient and agile research base that can make a substantive impact on national challenges and opportunities.

“Crucially, this is also an opportunity to reflect on our significant achievements in research and innovation to date, and to congratulate and thank SFI and IRC for the central role they have played in this regard.

“As well as thanking them for their excellent work over the years, I wish to acknowledge and express my gratitude for their sincere engagement to date in the process to establish the new agency.

“My Department looks forward to continuing to work closely with SFI and IRC as we progress through the pivotal transition to the new agency.”

The establishment of the new agency is a key action included in Impact 2030: Ireland’s Research and Innovation Strategy, and will serve as the foundation for achieving many of the strategy’s goals.

The new agency will be positioned so as to make a key contribution to the wider research and innovation system, and the legislation required to establish the agency will be advanced as a matter of priority.

It will be central to streamlining research funding calls across all disciplines and will, therefore, also assist researchers in navigating the state support landscape. It will also play an important role in underpinning evidence for policy and supporting Government Departments.

 Professor Philip Nolan, the Director General of SFI, said: “The Government’s decision to create and invest in one unified research funding agency is an extraordinary opportunity for research and the research community.

“The Government recognises that the global grand challenges that face us, from mitigating climate change to addressing poverty and inequality, require research, research expertise and talent across a very wide range of academic disciplines, and for that talent to work together in teams and coalitions.

“We at SFI look forward to working with our colleagues in the IRC, and with our national and international research communities, to build on our strengths and achievements, and realise this opportunity.”

Dr Louise Callinan, Director of the IRC, said: “This new agency provides an exciting opportunity to build on and augment the established and complementary strengths of SFI and IRC to the benefit of Ireland’s research and innovation system. 

“The undertakings in Impact 2030 to support fundamental as well as applied research across all disciplines and career stages strongly signals the intention to create an inclusive infrastructure of support so that all researchers can thrive.”

Minister Harris intends to appoint a CEO Designate to assist the Department with the establishment of the agency and to commence a process with the Public Appointments Service to appoint a suitable Board and a Chairperson.

Prior to the establishment of the new agency, business will continue as usual in IRC and SFI and stakeholders can be assured that there will be no interruption to ongoing services and funding programmes.