Targeted funding will support over 600 highly-skilled research positions in the bioeconomy, agrifood, neurological disease and advanced manufacturing, over the next six years

Tuesday, May 14th 2024: A €104 million investment in scientific research across Ireland is being announced today by Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Patrick O’Donovan TD, and Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue TD. 
The funding is being allocated to four SFI Research Centres: BiOrbic Bioeconomy SFI Research Centre; FutureNeuro SFI Research Centre for Neurological Diseases; I-Form SFI Research Centre for Advanced Manufacturing; and VistaMilk SFI Research Centre. An additional €21 million has been committed by these Centres’ industry partners. 
Commenting on the announcement, Minister O’Donovan said: “The bioeconomy, agrifood, neurological disease and manufacturing are each critically important to how we function as individuals and how we develop our economy. While significant scientific advances have been made in these areas by Ireland’s research ecosystem, we need to remain vigilant in addressing challenges old and new, and turning these opportunities into real world impacts that people can see and feel.”  
He added: “Today’s investment is as a result of close collaboration between individual researchers, research teams, research institutions, industry and government departments. I warmly welcome this multilayered partnership approach, and wish, in particular, to thank industry for their integral role.” 
Minister McConalogue stated: “My Department is proud to commit over €8.7 million in co-funding to the SFI Research Centre programme. Supporting VistaMilk SFI Research Centre over the next six years will help drive development and deployment of digital technology to improve the sustainability and competitiveness of dairy production and processing in Ireland. This progress will help to secure a sustainable food system that delivers safe and nutritious dairy products, positively impacts the environment and safeguards viable livelihoods for primary producers and rural communities.”  
Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine with special responsibility for Research and Development, Martin Heydon TD, commented: “I warmly welcome the announcement today of Phase 2 funding for the VistaMilk SFI Research Centre for Digitalising Dairy Production and Processing. The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has co-funded this Centre since it first began in 2018. It has a strong focus on soil, pasture, animal and food research and this announcement will allow this collaboration to continue in Phase 2 and I look forward to seeing the outputs of the research over the coming six years.”  

Welcoming the announcement, Deputy Director General of SFI, Dr Ciarán Seoighe said: “The four Centres being announced today represent an important national research network of 17 host and partner institutions that, to date, has collaborated with over 130 industry partners ranging from SMEs to multinationals, across all regions and in a variety of sectors. The continued investment for these four SFI Research Centres follows a rigorous and extensive expert international peer review process on the scientific excellence and strategic impact of each Centre. SFI’s Research Centres play a vital role in developing and nurturing the next generation of research leaders and innovators, and today’s funding awards will support over 600 researchers at senior researcher (PIs), post-doctoral, PhD and MSc levels.” 


About BiOrbic Bioeconomy SFI Research Centre

The BiOrbic Bioeconomy SFI Research Centre’s mission is to enable a vibrant sustainable circular bioeconomy through research excellence, innovation and the development of the bioeconomy leaders of the future, for the benefit of Ireland, Europe and beyond. It’s phase 2 programme adopts an innovative challenge based approach to connect expertise from academia, industry, policy and society to help realise the full potential of the bioeconomy, moving from a fossil-based to a bio-based economy, creating jobs in rural and coastal communities, de-coupling economic prosperity from environmental degradation, and supporting Ireland and Europe to meet and exceed its climate targets. 

BiOrbic works with food producers and industry to create valuable and sustainable bio-based products and services from natural resources. The world needs to transition to a climate neutral circular bioeconomy i.e. Net zero GHG emissions, restore biodiversity, zero waste, energetically self-sustaining and resilient. The world uses fossil-based resources to make energy chemicals and materials which result in GHG emissions, pollution of soil, water, and air, climate change, degradation of natural ecosystems, and biodiversity loss. BiOrbic’s challenge-based programme will focus on biodiversity, resource efficiency, reducing GHG emissions and bioeconomy systems to support the development of a climate neutral circular bioeconomy.  

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About FutureNeuro SFI Research Centre for Chronic and Rare Neurological Diseases

FutureNeuro’s vision is to change the journey for people affected by neurological, psychiatric and neurodevelopmental conditions. Its unique multi-disciplinary research programme - informed by patients, clinicians, industry partners and world-leading scientific advisors - aims to improve how we diagnose brain diseases, implement genomics for more personalised and effective therapy, develop the next generation of treatments, and leverage cutting-edge data science to transform healthcare systems and empower clinical decision-making.

Evolving from the strong foundations of FutureNeuro Phase 1 in diagnostics, therapeutics and eHealth focused on epilepsy and ALS, it will accelerate the leveraging of cross-disease and -discipline boundaries to also deliver advances in understanding the causes of neurodevelopmental disorders, multiple sclerosis (MS), Parkinson’s disease (PD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), and the serious co-morbid aspects of these diseases including mental health. They will search new regions of the human genome, incorporate new and emerging areas such as interceptive medicine, digital biomarkers and therapies, and biomolecular feedback-controlled gene therapy. Working closely with their clinical experts and industry partners, they will leverage state-of-the-art research infrastructure and expertise across its eight partner universities and the national clinical network, ensuring its research spans the entire spectrum, from early-stage discovery to translational studies and clinical trials, ensuring a comprehensive approach to tackling brain-related issues.   

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About I-FORM SFI Research Centre for Advanced Manufacturing

I-Form, the SFI Research Centre for Advanced Manufacturing’s goal is to shape the future of advanced manufacturing, through high-impact research into the application of digital technologies to materials processing. By materials processing we refer to any process that takes raw material A and through a series of steps, transforms that material into end product B. Through the application of digital technologies, the objective is to better model and control the process, as well as to develop predictive models, which will help to minimise the time required for new process development.

The outcome from the Centres research, is to enhance both the efficiency and sustainability of manufacturing processes, thus increasing the competitiveness of Irish manufacturing on the world stage. Key to achieving this outcome is the multidisciplinary expertise of the Centre researchers, a nationwide pool of expertise in areas as diverse as materials science, engineering, materials modelling, data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI). In addition to supporting productivity and efficiency gains, their digital tools will also be developed to deliver manufacturing sustainability as a core research output. 

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VistaMilk SFI Research Centre for Digitalising Dairy Production and Processing

VistaMilk is a multidisciplinary, multicultural SFI Research Centre that aims to be a leading agent in developing and deploying digital technology to improve dairy production and processing. The Centre focuses on innovation in technology and enhancing sustainability across the entire dairy supply chain from soil to society, positively impacting the environment, animal well-being and the health of consumers.

VistaMilk is providing leadership and innovative solutions to accelerate the transformation of the Irish dairy production and processing sector to help secure a sustainable food system that delivers safe and nutritious dairy products while positively impacting the environment and being respectful of societal values yet continuing to be sufficiently profitable to deliver a viable livelihood for primary producers and rural communities. The four thematic areas represented in VistaMilk’s research programme are soil, pasture, animal, and food representing the main domain areas spanning the soil-to-gut chain. VistaMilk links the Irish agri-food industry with Ireland’s leading agri-food and technology research institutes in a large-scale innovation ecosystem that includes 14 research institutes and over 50 industry partners that span the whole food chain as well as representing several different domain areas of expertise. 

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