Tuesday, 20th November, Dublin – Representatives from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), the Health Research Board (HRB), the Irish Research Council (IRC) and Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) will reconvene today in the Davenport Hotel in Dublin for the inaugural UK-Ireland Research Funders’ Form.

The event, co-hosted by Science Foundation Ireland and the Irish Research Council, will provide the opportunity for Irish research funders, including the HRB and Enterprise Ireland, to engage with statutory funders from the UK on research and innovation strategies to discuss ways to deepen alliances.


The Irish Research Council, Science Foundation Ireland and UKRI are aligned in their missions to enable and sustain vibrant research communities, excellent academic opportunities, and public engagement with science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) across Ireland and the UK.


The UK and Ireland share a strong history in research and innovation collaboration, with a range of partnerships and joint activities across the full spectrum of scientific disciplines. As international collaboration on research and innovation becomes increasingly important in addressing today’s global challenges, ensuring a forum for dialogue and exploring future opportunities for research and innovation collaboration between the UK and Ireland is key.


A Statement of Intent that will be signed at the first Funders’ Forum in Dublin will formalise this need for closer dialogue into meetings where discussions and collaboration will be facilitated on a regular basis.


Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland, said: “Science Foundation Ireland places great importance on international research collaboration. The generation of new knowledge and its timely application is fuelled by bringing together the brightest minds from around the world to research new frontiers and challenges.


Ireland enjoys a close relationship with the UK in research collaborations through our shared history, common language, mutual focus on research excellence and accelerating the economic and societal impacts of research results. As Brexit approaches it is very important that Ireland strengthens and expands its research collaborations with the UK. We want to foster researchers in both countries collaborating in a complimentary manner, sharing infrastructure, materials and data in a mutually beneficial way, with young students experiencing the best of both UK and Irish research environments and training. I welcome the formal meeting of UK and Irish Research funders in Dublin today and the signing of the Statement of Intent. I look forward to future positive developments.”


The two-day forum includes addresses from the UK Ambassador to Ireland, Mr Robin Barnett, and Minister for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection, Mr Pat Breen TD. There will also be presentations on collaboration case studies and thematic sessions on the human-technology interface, health and wellbeing, innovation and disruptive technologies, and sustainability and climate action.


Speaking at the forum, Peter Brown, Director of the Irish Research Council, said: “The Council recognises that Ireland is part of an interdependent, international research community that together can achieve mutually beneficial outcomes that would not be possible in isolation.It is clear that Ireland’s researchers are held in very high esteem internationally, as is their contribution to knowledge and innovation within, and between, all disciplines.


The Irish research and innovation system shares many of the goals of the UK jurisdiction, including a commitment to excellence in research, strong mechanisms to capture innovation from knowledge and discovery, and an obligation to ensure an open research environment. Our two countries have a long track record of collaboration on research and innovation, and the Council is delighted to co-convene this UK-Ireland research funders’ forum to engage on how our two systems build on this for the future.”


The agreement will be effective until 31st December 2022, after which its renewal will be considered.