Ireland has moved up four places to 16th place in the global scientific rankings, according to the Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) 2014 annual report, which also revealed that it was a significant year with five new world-class research centres being approved
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Ireland has moved up four places to 16th place in the global scientific rankings, according to the Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) 2014 annual report, which also revealed how it turned out to be a significant year with five new world-class research centres being approved.

A key highlight for SFI during 2014, was the establishment of five new world-leading SFI research centres of scale and excellence in Ireland through a government-industry funding collaboration of €245 million (€155 million via SFI and €90 million from industry) over six years.

The centres support critical and emerging areas of the economy including applied geosciences, software and medical devices, supporting 700 researcher positions and that will help to position Ireland as an important location for FDI investment. This investment brings the total number of SFI research centres in Ireland to 12.

Chairman of SFI Ann Riordan said: “I am pleased to report that 2014 has been a significant year in which we have continued with our mission of placing science at the heart of Ireland’s economy and society and creating an environment which helps to attract investment, generate ideas that spur job creation by supporting new and existing industry.

“SFI delivers this, by maintaining a focus on efficient, lean management and values-based principles, which have monitoring and measurement at the core and by ensuring value for money for the Irish taxpayer.”

Prof Mark Ferguson, director general of SFI and chief scientific adviser to the government, said: “We operate in a globally competitive environment where investment in research is critical to maintaining our competitive edge by providing creative ideas and skilled people.

“Ireland is succeeding in terms of creating high-value jobs in the STEM sector, encouraging industry collaboration, commercialising research and promoting science and innovation amongst the general public. SFI is focused on catalysing – What’s Next. We will continue to support the best researchers with great ideas which lead to excellent projects that have the potential to make a real difference to Ireland – positively impacting on our society and economy.”

SFI’s priorities for 2015 include:

  • Developing significant strategic partnerships with industry, charities and international funders;
  • Building capacity within the research system, recruiting both established leaders and emerging stars, in areas of strategic importance to Ireland;
  • Increasing support for early career researchers through programmes such as the Starting Investigator Research Grant (SIRG) and Career Development Award (CDA);
  • Catalysing successful applications to the European Union Horizon 2020 research programme, including the European Research Council (ERC);
  • The 20th anniversary celebrations of National Science Week will take place, and public consultations will be held to evaluate public awareness of science;
  • Implementation of the new Smart Futures three-year plan to deliver and increase the uptake of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) subjects in collaboration with industry.

Additional highlights from 2014:

  • SFI supported a human capital base of about 2,800 researchers/team members throughout the research eco-system in Ireland, and this included 468 leading researchers, 1,665 postdoctoral researchers and postgraduate students;
  • SFI supported 2,029 scientific publications (45 per cent co-authored with internationally based researchers, eight per cent with an industry co-author);
  • The first (2014) ERC calls under the Horizon 2020 Programme have seen an unparalleled level of success for researchers based in Ireland, with 18 awards and a combined value of more than €30 million;
  • Prof Robert Bogdan Staszewski, was recruited by UCD to lead a cutting-edge research programme to increase Ireland’s capability as a global centre for the ‘Internet-of-Things’. Prof Staszewski was awarded €5 million in funding under SFI’s Research Professorship Programme;
  • The Smart Futures initiative, a new three-year plan to deliver and increase the uptake of STEM subjects was launched;
  • SFI researchers were involved in organising 764 national and international conferences (528 were in Ireland);
  • SFI invested €274 million in 343 new research awards across 23 programmes in Ireland;
  • Five projects were approved for funding at a total cost of €2.5 million to SFI under the SFI-Pfizer Biotherapeutics Innovation Award Programme which supports highly competitive, collaborative research projects between Pfizer and Irish academics with the objective of identifying biopharmaceutical candidates directed against novel disease targets or pathways of interest;
  • SFI continues to grow its global reach as the SFI funded community is involved in 1,843 international academic collaborations in 57 countries across the globe.

The SFI 2014 Annual Report in full can be downloaded from the SFI website www.sfi.ie

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  Ireland has moved up four places to 16th place in the global scientific rankings, according to the Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) 2014 annual report, which also revealed how it turned out to be a significant year with five new world-class research centres being approved. A key highlight for SFI during 2014,...