Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris TD has today welcomed 47 new teams to compete in the €65 million National Challenge Fund – receiving initial funding totalling more than €13 million to work on solutions to major environmental and societal issues.

Funded by the EU’s Recovery and Resilience Facility, the Fund calls on researchers to identify problems related to Ireland’s Green Transition and Digital Transformation and work with those directly affected to solve them.

The teams will spend an initial six months working to refine their ideas including areas such as:

  • improving cyber security for national databases and for children, older citizens and small businesses
  • supporting health services through mapping and modelling diseases in the population, preventing medicine shortages, or controlling superbugs,
  • efficient energy use - from renewable sources through to reducing the fuel lorries need.

Speaking today, Minister Harris said:

“These teams have presented ingenious ideas and committed their talents to working for the benefit of the people of Ireland.

“We see examples in the news most days of why Ireland needs to work at the green transition and digital transformation and ensure that our innovation and research prepare the country for the future.

“In fact, the solutions being worked on in all eight challenges in the National Challenge Fund have the potential not just to improve life here in Ireland, but across Europe and around the world.”

Science Foundation Ireland Director General Philip Nolan said: “SFI is very pleased with the response to the National Challenge Fund calls and we are happy to be supporting these teams as they embark on an intense period of engaged research, refining and validating their solutions. We have learnt from our previous challenge-based funding that teams can make huge strides in very short periods of time.

“The individual problems these teams have identified tally closely with some of the submissions we received from the public during the Creating Our Future campaign, so I look forward to seeing these ideas developed in ways that can improve everyday life in Ireland.”

These teams are divided across four Challenges:

Digital for Resilience – a challenge to gain deeper insights and better understanding of the origins and potential impacts of future environmental, social or economic scenarios, and prepare for future shock events;

OurTech – a challenge to strengthen the connections between people, their communities and with government;

Energy Innovation – a challenge to develop solutions that will accelerate Ireland’s transition to a clean and secure energy system;

A Healthy Environment for All – a challenge to restore and maintain a resilient environment that ensures clean and healthy air, water and soil for humans, animals and plants.

The National Challenge Fund was established under the government’s National Recovery and Resilience Plan (NRRP), funded by the EU’s Recovery and Resilience Facility. The fund is coordinated and administered by Science Foundation Ireland.