SMEs score in research funds

SMALL and medium companies are predominant in an increased share of funding to industry here in the latest update on disbursement of a €50 billion EU research fund.

More than €55 million has been awarded to businesses here out of a €213m dividend received by Ireland to date from the seventh framework programme (FP7) for research and technological development. Although higher education colleges secured €130m, or 61% of the funding here, the 26% going to industry shows a much higher participation rate from the sector than in the last stage of the programme, according to the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Innovation.

“SMEs account for over 69% of the funding to private industry, funding that is enabling Irish SMEs to collaborate with world-class research teams across Europe,” a department report on Irish success in the FP7 announcement said.

One example is Dublin-based SME Solar Print, which is in partnership with Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin and Italian car giant Fiat to develop solar panels for car roofs to generate alternative energy sources for vehicles by converting light to power.

A target of €600m for Irish researchers has been set from the fund which runs until 2013, with the 720 successful applicants up to the end of April 2010 representing just under one-in-four of those who have sought funding compared to an average success rate of 22.3% among all EU member states.

Science, Technology and Innovation Minister said he was particularly pleased to see the high level of activity of Irish researchers both from academic and industry. “The new ideas and innovations generated from these research collaborations will help create new high quality jobs,” he said.

The remaining 13% of Irish funding has gone to projects headed by public bodies and research organisations such as the Marine Institute and Teagasc.

The collaborative projects cover a range of research fields, but the most successful in terms of funding is in information and communication technologies (ICT) which accounts for almost €67m and 15 pan-European projects under this heading are being led by Irish higher education institutions.

Seven are headed up by the Tyndall National Institute in Cork, five by Waterford Institute of Technology, two by National University of Ireland Galway’s Digital Enterprise Research Institute and one at Dublin City University.

The news follows Friday’s announcement of successful projects in the €359m round of the Programme for Research in Third-Level Institutions (PRTLI).


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