Science Foundation Ireland looks to attract international researchers

Science Foundation Ireland has announced a plan to attract the best international researchers to the country in order to build on Ireland’s growing reputation as a base for scientific innovation.

Minister for Business, Enterprise, and Innovation Heather Humphreys

While Ireland has dropped out of the top 10 countries for the quality of its scientific research, it remains 11th in global rankings and is thriving in response to SFI’s focus on supporting innovative projects and research.

Announcing a review of 2017 and an ambitious programme for 2018, the national foundation for investment in scientific and engineering research yesterday revealed that almost €50m was invested last year to support scientific research, innovation, and education.

That included €43m invested in 26 research projects under the SFI Investigators Programme. A further 44 projects received €2.8m under the SFI Discover Programme to improve public understanding of science and technology and increase STEM uptake in education.

SFI is to focus its funding activities on six areas this year, including expanding its research centres, increasing the number of postgraduate research students, and building partnerships in the UK to address the challenges of Brexit.

Minister for Business, Enterprise, and Innovation Heather Humphreys said the review indicated that SFI was making excellent progress towards meeting the targets set out in its far-reaching strategy, Agenda 2020.

“It presents Government with many opportunities to support the very best in our STEM sector, with new initiatives to increase the number of PhD students, attract star talent to Ireland, and a pilot for challenge-based funding,” she said.

SFI director general and the Government’s chief scientific adviser, Mark Ferguson, said SFI’s investment in research was having a measurable impact on the economy and society.

“Throughout 2018, across all programmes, we saw an exceptionally high standard of applications, such that Science Foundation Ireland had reserve lists of excellent and impactful projects across all its major programmes,” he said.

“The talent which Science Foundation Ireland supports is delivering high-quality publications, driving discovery and innovation, collaborating with industry, and importantly, training and mentoring the next generation of researchers.

“We set very high expectations for the researchers that Science Foundation Ireland support and the researchers are meeting those ambitious targets.”

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