• Shaping Our Future strives for Ireland to be a global innovation leader. 
  • SFI’s strategy seeks a balanced portfolio underpinned by excellence, talent and skills
  • SFI targets first mover advantage in new areas of discovery.
  • Strategy to enable Ireland’s research potential to meet the current challenges and seize future opportunities to benefit Ireland’s economy and society.

Dublin - Monday, 1st March 2021: An Taoiseach Micheál Martin TD, and Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris TD launched Science Foundation Ireland’s new strategy to 2025, Shaping Our Future. The new strategy has been developed to unlock the potential of Irish research to meet current challenges, seize future opportunities and support the priorities outlined in Ireland’s recent Programme for Government: Our Shared Future.

Speaking at a virtual event this afternoon, An Taoiseach Micheál Martin TD said: “New ideas and innovations continue to bring about major transformation of our society and economy, and that is why a focus on this area is of critical importance to this Government. We are deeply committed to the development of research in Ireland. This has been evident through the establishment of the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, and the focus on research in the Programme for Government.  We have seen the incredible contribution of the sector during the pandemic and I believe our research sector is positioned to positively inform how we respond to the challenges we are facing today as a nation and to ensure we can grasp the opportunities to improve our society for the better. I very much welcome the new strategic focus of delivering today, preparing for tomorrow.”

Speaking today, Minister Harris said: “With the world still struggling with COVID-19, the future is uncertain in relation to how we predict, manage, and prevent future global health crises. The Irish research community were key to Ireland’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We need to grow this capacity further, both to live with the virus and to better prepare for potential future pandemics and other threats such as climate change. Mitigating and adapting to climate change are critical issues for mankind and Ireland can become a leader in developing climate action solutions.  This strategy aims to offer support for today and plan for tomorrow.”

Launching the new strategy, Professor Peter Clinch, Chairman Science Foundation Ireland said: “I am delighted to introduce Science Foundation Ireland’s new strategy Shaping Our Future today.  This strategy is an ambitious one.  Investment in research is a key determinant of the long-term success and prosperity of Ireland and its people.  Our vision is that Ireland will be a global innovation leader in scientific and engineering research for the advancement of Ireland’s economy and society.  By ‘Delivering Today while Preparing for Tomorrow’, SFI’s new strategy is designed to meet current challenges and to position Ireland to take advantage of future opportunities.”

Speaking at the announcement, Prof Mark Ferguson, Director General Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland, said: “From the mechanisation of agriculture to the invention of television, from vaccines to the internet, from mobile phones to electric cars, the positive contribution that science, research, and innovation makes to people’s lives globally is unquestionable. Discovery, invention and innovation fuel great progress. Under our previous strategy, SFI focused on increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of the Irish RD&I system.  This was successful with Eurostats citing Ireland as the most R&D efficient country in Europe, generating more innovation output per euro of public funds invested than any other country.  But there are limits to efficiency gains and the system now needs, and is prepared for, increased investment.  SFI looks forward to working in collaboration with the new Department and research system to implement Shaping Our Future.”

Science Foundation Ireland’s new strategy has two core ambitions: Delivering Today and Preparing for Tomorrow. 

  • Delivering Today: To deliver on our vision for Ireland we will develop more top talent, build on Ireland’s excellent research base, and maximise the tangible benefits for our economy and society, addressing current challenges and supporting quality jobs and a competitive economy.
  • Preparing for Tomorrow: As a small country, Ireland can best compete by developing a cohesive research ecosystem capable of taking first mover advantage in new and emergent fields. We will identify and develop the future skills required for Ireland’s future economy and society. SFI’s new strategy emphasises anticipating what’s next and adapting our approach to lead in these new areas of discovery. To achieve this, SFI will engage and collaborate more widely and deeply with all stakeholders.

Shaping Our Future sets out ambitious actions and targets in order to meet its objectives.  Some of the areas that the strategy aims to deliver include:

  • Increase the number of SFI individual-led awards to 140 annually by 2025.
  • Increase the number of SFI Centres for Research Training to 18 by 2025.
  • Attract 20 world-leading researchers to Ireland annually by 2025.
  • Establish a national challenge capability of scale.
  • SFI supported researchers cited in scientific journals 2.0 times the global average.
  • 35% women leaders in research.
  • 65% of postgraduate and postdoctoral researchers departing to positions outside academia after 6 years.

Progress against the full set of KPIs will be reported annually by the organisation.

Read full SFI Strategy 2025 Shaping Our Future