SFI-funded research delivers significant economic and societal benefits for Ireland
14th September 2023 – Dublin, Ireland: Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris TD, has today launched the 2022 Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) annual report. Demonstrating how public investment in RD&I is building resilience for Ireland’s research and innovation ecosystem, the report highlights that from a base investment of €213 million, SFI leveraged a further €267 million in external funding, a 14% increase on the previous year.
Welcoming the report, Minister Harris said: “In 2022, SFI continued to fund world-leading research of significant economic and societal impact for Ireland, delivering on national priority areas, as set out in the Government’s research, development, and innovation strategy, Impact 2030.”
“Along with supporting a diverse portfolio of early to mid-career researchers and world-leading research professors, SFI funded 2,301 postgraduate research students, fostering future talent through excellent training. The report demonstrates our growing reputation in research and innovation and the significant value it represents for the people of Ireland.”
The report also highlights that in 2022 Ireland continued to be recognised globally for its scientific achievements, ranking 2nd in the world for agricultural sciences, and 4th in both immunology and neuroscience and behaviour. SFI-funded researchers also competitively won €85 million in Horizon Europe funding.
Chairman of the Board of SFI, Prof J. Peter Clinch, said: “Ireland now ranks 6th in the world for university-industry R&D collaboration. In 2022, SFI launched new programmes to facilitate our becoming a green, sustainable, deep-tech, innovation leader, and furthered its economic impact with €61 million secured from private enterprise in 2022, and over 1,500 regional industry engagements. With 5,815 international academic collaborations with 87 countries, we continue to expand our global footprint, pushing the frontiers of knowledge for economic and social progress for the benefits of the people of Ireland and beyond.”
Director General of SFI, Prof Philip Nolan, said: “Cultivating talent and investing in new knowledge is at the core of our mission. The 2022 SFI annual report showcases the talent and dedication of our funded research community and we are deeply proud of their achievements, including authoring over 5,000 world-leading research publications. We continue to forge new opportunities for ground-breaking research, improving our resilience and adaptability in a rapidly changing world, while striving to build a more inclusive and engaged research and innovation system.”
The 2022 SFI annual report details the funding of over 300 research grants across 19 SFI programmes, supporting Investigator-led programmes, and the SFI Research Centres Programme. The agency also provided extensive support for the promotion of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) education at primary and secondary level, as well as funding public engagement activities across Ireland, inspiring curiosity across all age groups and education levels.
Additional highlights from the 2022 Science Foundation Ireland Annual Report:
- 79 awards were made under the SFI Frontiers for the Future Programme, with a net €61 million invested, supporting early career researchers through to well established leaders to conduct high-risk, high reward research. This includes 15 awards under the Frontiers for Partnership Programme supporting collaborative projects across the Technological Universities (TUs) and Institutes of Technology (IoTs).
- SFI invested €7.5 million in the jointly funded SFI-IRC Pathway Programme with 14 awards made to support post-doctoral researchers in becoming research leaders across all disciplines.
- A new Co-Centre Programme was launched to build strategic collaborative partnerships across Ireland, Great Britain and Northern Ireland, focusing on high-quality research and innovation within the areas of climate, and sustainable and resilient food systems, with support from the Department of An Taoiseach through the Shared Island Fund.
- The SFI Research Infrastructure Programme funded 13 awards valued at €18 million to support building research capacity with key equipment and facilities.
- Challenge-based funding saw €8.8 million invested in 12 SFI Future Innovator awards, and €7 million invested in 26 awards through the new National Challenge Fund with support from the EU Recovery and Resilience Fund, to generate solutions-based research in the areas of the green transition and digital transformation.
- STEM education and engagement was supported with an investment of €6.4 million for 43 awards, funded by the SFI Discover Programme, while 31 awards were made under the Science Week Programme, including supporting 19 regional festivals.
- Funding was secured from the European Regional Development Fund to establish a new programme, ARC: Accelerating Research to Commercialisation, focusing on strategic growth areas, and smart specialisation, driving regional development through a network of three hubs.