Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris TD has today welcomed Government agreement for the publication of the Research and Innovation Bill 2023, which provides for the amalgamation of the Irish Research Council and Science Foundation Ireland, and the establishment of a new research and innovation funding agency, Taighde Éireann – Research Ireland.

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 publication of the Research and Innovation Bill 2023 is another significant step in the process of establishing Taighde Éireann.

The agency will build and develop on the recognised strengths of the IRC and SFI, to work collaboratively with other research funders and enterprise in creating a cohesive national system for research and innovation in Ireland.

Taighde Éireann will support researchers in all disciplines, at all career stages, in all types of research, in developing national capacity for research and innovation excellence, and will support Irish research and innovation engagement internationally.

Speaking today, Minister Harris said: “I’m very pleased to announce that Government has approved the publication of the landmark Research and Innovation Bill. The new agency will build on the recognised and important strengths of the Irish Research Council and Science Foundation Ireland, in driving research and innovation excellence.

For the first time, we are putting arts, humanities and social sciences research on a statutory footing, ensuring parity of esteem and supporting researchers in all disciplines, and at all career stages. As part of the wider research and innovation system, the agency will help build the capacity we need for research and innovation excellence into the future. The role of research has expanded, as we face into the green and digital transitions.

The agency will support research, innovation, skills development, education, and cooperation across Government, across the country, and out into the wider worldwide research community, to support our country in responding to our national challenges, and in embracing new opportunities.”

The Research and Innovation Bill will go before the Oireachtas in January, and Taighde Éireann-Research Ireland will be established in 2024.

The new agency will streamline research funding calls across all disciplines and 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, CEO Designate of Taighde Éireann – Research Ireland, said: “I welcome the publication of the Research and Innovation Bill, as another important step towards the establishment of Taighde Éireann- Research Ireland. Since my appointment in May, the IRC and SFI communities have come together to plan for the establishment of the agency, and to engage with stakeholders in the wider research and innovation system, to get their insights on how we can support the most talented people to work on the most interesting and important research questions for the betterment of our society and environment. This agency will be a major support for a more connected and ambitious research and innovation system for Ireland. I look forward to working with our national and international research communities, and to building on our strengths and achievements.”

Peter Brown, Director of the IRC, said: “The Research and Innovation Bill will underpin parity of esteem for researchers in all disciplines, reflecting the value, contribution and potential of expertise across the research community. The IRC and SFI will continue to work together to ensure that we build on and develop the established and complementary strengths of the two agencies as we progress jointly towards the establishment of Taighde Éireann- Research Ireland.”

IRC and SFI grant-holders and related stakeholders can be assured that there will be no interruption to ongoing services and funding programmes during the transition phase and the establishment of the new agency.