Over EUR200m pledged to researchers: SFI
Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) has committed to invest more than EUR200 million, or around a third of its budget, in 100 research projects over the last three years.
According to the body's inaugural report, since 2000 it has spent or said it would spend a total EUR218 million in funding approximately 100 research projects currently underway in Ireland. The report said that this money had funded 104 "world-class" researchers including 41 who have come to Ireland from abroad to conduct research.
In May of this year alone, SFI announced that it was to fund projects at a cost of around EUR60 million. At the start of the month, SFI said it had made grants totalling EUR42 million to establish new research centres for science, engineering and technology in Cork, Dublin and Galway.
This was followed by EUR12 million of joint funding with Enterprise Ireland to 88 third-level research projects in technology, engineering and science areas.
The final piece of funding in May was the EUR11.1 million spent to bring a leading fibre-optics research team to the University of Cork. The four man team work in the area of photonics, which is the study of how light and other forms of energy can be used to transmit data, and its capture was regarded as a coup by SFI. The group has published hundreds of articles between them and has been recognised in the Guinness Book of Records for the longest transmission distance (125,000 km) of data at 22Gbps.
The report from Science Foundation Ireland, which was released on Thursday at an event in Dublin's Westin Hotel, is its first since its establishment in 2000. The organisation was set-up to invest in researchers and research teams, particularly those in cutting-edge areas, working in the fields of ICT and biotech. It has a funding budget of EUR646 million up to 2006.
Areas of research that SFI has funded are detailed in the report and included speech and language technology, next generation laser technology, and schizophrenia.
Examples of such research include an initiative being carried out in Cork that is seeking to create "artificial atoms" to make high-speed communications even faster, a project in the University of Limerick that is developing new ways to test software, and a DCU-based research programme to improve the control of chip manufacturing.
SFI Director General, Dr. William C. Harris, said that the work described in the report will prove important not only to the people of Ireland, but also to those around the world who will be eventually touched by it. "This human capital is our precious natural resource and will be the corner stone for social and economic progress in the future," said Harris.
In her foreword to the report, the Tanaiste stated that the funds being allocated by SFI were central to the EUR2.35 billion that is being invested under the National Development Plan in research, technological development and innovation over the next few years.
At the launch in Dublin, well over 100 were in attendance, including dozens of renowned researchers from across Ireland and around the world. Noting the strong turnout, Tanaiste and Dr. Harris thanked all involved with the organisation, and presented awards to many of the distinguished scientists.