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  • Industry partners to contribute further €230 million bringing the total investment to €460m
  • Funding will directly support approximately 850 researchers
  • SFI Research Centres will focus on integrated photonics, marine renewable energy, gut health and the microbiome, data analytics, advanced pharmaceutical manufacturing and advanced materials.

Dublin, 9th May 2019: This morning, Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys TD, and Minister of State for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development, John Halligan TD, announced an investment of €230 million in six SFI Research Centres as part of Project Ireland 2040. The €230 million investment made by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation through Science Foundation Ireland, will directly benefit approximately 850 researchers employed by the centres, while also supporting the Government’s Future Jobs Ireland initiative. The investment is buoyed by industry support with 170 industry partners committing to investing over €230 million in cash and in-kind contributions over the next six years.

Commenting on the announcement, Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys TD, said: “This investment by my Department in the six SFI Research Centres is part of the Government’s strategy to prepare now for tomorrow’s world, through plans like Future Jobs Ireland and Project Ireland 2040. The work that has been done to date has positioned Ireland as a world leader in research, further strengthening our global credibility across a number of different sectors. The economic impact of this research is clear, not only through direct and in-direct employment levels, but also through increased foreign direct investment. Our Research Centres not only act as magnets to attract and retain investment; they also encourage companies, both Irish and foreign-owned, to develop their R&D activities here. This will continue to benefit Ireland and the world for years to come.”

The investment is set to benefit the whole country with third level institutions located across Ireland partnering with the Centres. The six SFI Research Centres will address the following:

  • AMBER, the SFI Research Centre for Advanced Materials and Bioengineering Research, led by Trinity College Dublin AMBER’s research programme continues to build on core expertise delivering world-class materials innovations, in partnership with industry, and translating these into impacts with environmental, clinical, economic and societal benefits. The Centre’s research will enable faster computing and communications, revolutionise the treatment of damaged tissues, improve materials for energy efficiency and enable the next generation of manufactured products, maximising resource use for a more sustainable environment, and enabling a circular economy. AMBER’s fundamental research in materials characterisation, synthesis and modelling in world-class facilities is a key enabler of AMBER’s excellence in materials science research; positioning Ireland as a vibrant hub of research and development, industrial engagement and commercialisation.
  • APC Microbiome Ireland, led by University College Cork APC Microbiome Ireland strives to understand the complex relationship between diet, the microbiome, and our health status through our four themes - Microbes to Molecules, Diet and Microbes at the Extremes of Life, Brain-Gut-Microbiota Axis, and Host-Microbe Dialogue. Working with industry and other international research teams, the Centre aims to develop microbiome-based therapeutics, functional food ingredients, and diagnostics that can prevent or improve symptoms relating to infections, inflammation, cardiovascular disease, stress, neurodevelopmental disorders, diseases of age and cancer.
  • The Insight Centre for Data Analytics, co-led by NUI Galway, Dublin City University, University College Cork and University College Dublin Every scientific discipline, industry, and leisure activity generates data in ever-increasing amounts. Navigating and sifting this immense ocean of information, through data analytics, poses challenges. Unlocking the potential of this data offers unprecedented socio-economic benefits.
  • IPIC, the Irish Photonic Integration Centre, led by Tyndall National Institute Photonics - the generation, manipulation and utilisation of light - underpins a global €600 billion market with an annual growth forecast of 8.4% and employs around 300,000 people in Europe alone. To realise its full potential, major advances in photonic integration are required, similar to the development of electronic integrated circuits some fifty years ago, enabling higher levels of functionality and new applications, from autonomous vehicles to microdisplays and medical devices. IPIC is at the forefront of global scientific advances in this area and works closely with the ICT and MedTech industries.
  • The MaREI Centre, led by University College Cork MaREI undertakes research related to the energy transition, climate action, and blue economy and uses this research to empowers business, shift policy and support society. MaREI helps small energy and marine companies to develop new technologies and provides strategic guidance to large energy companies, thereby harnessing the economic opportunities of the low carbon energy transition. MaREI research increasingly underpins energy and climate policies of the Irish Government and the European Union. Through engaged research and dialogue with communities, MaREI also supports the human and societal dimensions of climate action and marine conservation.
  • SSPC, the SFI Research Centre for Pharmaceuticals, led by University of Limerick SSPC comprises a critical mass of accomplished researchers and an infrastructure that are second-to-none from a global perspective. The Centre will create impact for Ireland in the pharmaceutical sector by creating economic growth through spin-out companies and patent licences with innovative pharmaceutical companies, enabling next generation medicines to reach the market more quickly, and providing highly qualified scientists and engineers to support and grow the Irish pharmaceutical sector.

Minister of State for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development, John Halligan TD, said: “This is an extremely positive announcement, SFI Research Centres are a huge draw for high quality sustainable jobs both directly and indirectly. They are agents of change, providing new ways of thinking and offering alternative solutions to issues and challenges that we face in many sectors. This is one of the positive examples of Project Ireland 2040 which has been rolled out to ensure that, as a nation, we are prepared for the changes and disruption that we face going forward. With the current strong economic outlook, it is important that we look to the future and our investments in excellent research allow us to do exactly that.”

The 170 industry collaborators include both multinational companies and SMEs based in Ireland and international. They include companies such as AuriGen Medical, Raydiant Oximetry Inc., DePuy Ireland, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Intel, Nokia Bell Labs, DuPont, Nutricia, Danone, Janssen, Abbvie, Cremo, Alimentary Health, DSM, Kerry, Pepsico, Tate & Lyle, Integra LifeSciences, ESB, Gas Networks Ireland, Brookfield Renewables, DP Energy, and OceanEnergy.  

Under the new funding model, these six SFI Research Centres are successfully scaling up to secure 66% of the funding from other sources, so only 34% of their funding over the six years will now come from Science Foundation Ireland.

Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland, said: “SFI Research Centres support both basic and applied research, which I believe is one of the reasons they have been so successful to date. The research across the centres spans a wide range of sectors at varying levels and stages – the holistic approach we are taking to our research is fundamental to its success. In only a very short period the SFI Research Centres have made incredible progress, in terms of increased academic and industrial collaboration, training PhD students for industry, winning competitive funding from the EU, producing excellent scientific results and public engagement. We look forward to continued support from the Government and industry as we move forward, increasing our ability to positively impact both society and the economy through excellent scientific research.”

The SFI Research Centres network involves strong collaborative partnerships between research bodies in Ireland, including Trinity College Dublin, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, University College Cork, Teagasc, Cork Institute of Technology, University College Dublin, National Institute for Bioprocessing Research and Training (NIBRT), NUI Galway, Dublin City University, Tyndall National Institute, Maynooth University, University of Limerick, Technological University of Dublin, ESRI, Dundalk Institute of Technology, Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, Athlone Institute of Technology, Limerick Institute of Technology, Institute of Technology Sligo, Institute of Technology Tralee, and Waterford Institute of Technology. 

Awards of funding to SFI Research Centres are made following rigorous international expert peer reviews. For more information visit SFI Research Centres.