An Taoiseach Launches Four New World-Class Science Foundation Ireland Research Centres including Two Led by University College Dublin

- €74 million in funding from Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation with €40 million co-investment from industry

An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar TD, together with An Tánaiste and Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Frances Fitzgerald TD, and Minister for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development, John Halligan TD, today announced four (4) new world-class Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Research Centres, including two (2) led by University College Dublin (UCD).

2017 SFI Research Centres Launch
An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar TD at the launch of the four new SFI Research Centres

The new SFI Research Centres represent an investment of €74 million from the Government over the next six years, with a further investment of €40 million from industry. The investment will support cutting-edge basic and applied research with strong industry engagement, driving economic benefits and positive societal impact.

An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar TD, said, “Investing in leading-edge scientific and technological research is good for our economy and helps us to discover new innovations which can improve our quality of life. Our SFI Research Centres represent a virtuous triangle between government, industry and higher education, and show just what can be achieved when there is a shared vision about reaching your ambitions.”

“These four new SFI Research Centres will be centres of activity where Irish and international researchers are trained and collaboration with private companies is facilitated to deliver new ideas and innovation. This in turn helps to create high-value jobs and drives economic growth and regional development. The SFI Research Centres show the value of investing in today, so we can imagine the world of the future."

UCD is the lead institution of the Beacon Bioeconomy and the I-Form Advanced Manufacturing SFI Research Centres.

The Beacon Research Centre aims to transforms residual fossil fuel components, used in industry sectors such as agri-food and the marine, into new higher value products using biocatalysis and metabolic engineering.  This science creates a bioeconomy that increases resource efficiency, adds value and dramatically reduces non-sustainable waste.

Beacon Group - SFI Research Centre
Beacon Bioeconomy SFI Research Centre

Professor Kevin O’Connor, UCD School of Biomolecular and Biomedical Science and Director, Beacon SFI Research Centre, said, “The emerging bioeconomy presents a remarkable opportunity for Ireland to transition to a resource-efficient and sustainable economy.  It will enable indigenous industries, including those in the agri-food and marine sectors, to innovate, diversify, enhance resource efficiency and increase the value of their products for export to growing global markets. Beacon will underpin this transition though scientific discovery, informing policy, and the development of new technologies and products that will create new jobs, secure existing jobs, stimulate rural development.” 

The academic partner institutions of the Beacon Research Centre are; Trinity College Dublin, University of Limerick, NUI Galway and Teagasc.

I-Form Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre aims to enhance the manufacturability of bespoke components such as medical devices and products (e.g. hip replacements and stents) using 3D printing techniques. This is achieved through the efficient use of advanced process monitoring, incorporating embedded sensors and process control in the entire value chain from “powder to final product”.

I-Form Group - SFI Research Centre
I-FORM Advanced Manufacturing SFI Research Centre

Professor Denis Dowling, UCD School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering and Director of I-Form, said, “This new Centre will play a key role in positioning Ireland as a location of choice for advanced manufacturing in the years ahead. The Centre will provide the critical research expertise and trained staff that are essential to maintain Ireland’s competitiveness in this rapidly changing sector.” 

The academic partner institutions for the I-Form Research Centre are; Dublin City University, NUI Galway, Trinity College Dublin, Institute of Technology Sligo and Waterford Institute of Technology.

Professor Orla Feely, UCD Vice-President for Research, Innovation and Impact said, “I would like to congratulate Professor Denis Dowling and Professor Kevin O’Connor, and all UCD researchers, along with academic and industry partners, involved with the establishment of the I-Form and Beacon SFI Research Centres.”

She added, “It is a testament to the quality of the world-class research that is taking place at our University that University College Dublin is the lead institution of two of the four research centres announced today. The research that will take place in these Centres over the next few years will I believe advance knowledge, train and develop talented researchers and will deliver impact to the Irish and global economy and society.”

Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Advisor to the Government of Ireland said, “Research and innovation matter for our future – they make the difference in enhancing productivity and boosting competitiveness and to tackling the societal challenges of our time: building a digitally-smart, low carbon, energy efficient, circular economy that offers well-paid, rewarding work and brings a good quality of life for all.”

“These new SFI Research Centres will continue this upward trajectory by attracting leading Irish and international researchers, winning competitive international funding, and establishing sustained fruitful partnerships with industry. For young researchers, like students undertaking PhDs or those progressing to post-doctoral research, these centres will provide opportunities for them to develop in strategic areas of scientific research, while also providing unparalleled training in entrepreneurship and science communication.”

An Tánaiste and Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Frances Fitzgerald TD, said, “The establishment of these new SFI Research Centres is a key action in the Government’s strategy for research and development, Innovation 2020. Today’s announcement of a co-investment by Government and industry of €114 million will ensure that Ireland is adding important additional capacity through world-class centres of research excellence and scale.”

Minister of State for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development, John Halligan TD, said, “I believe that all SFI Research Centres will deliver strategic benefits for Ireland in the years to come in terms of education and training, job creation, advancing key sectors and important scientific discoveries.”

The four SFI Research Centres will engage in over 80 collaborations with industry partners and will involve strong collaborative partnerships between research bodies in Ireland.

The other two new SFI Research Centres announced are Confirm and FutureNeuro. Confirm (University of Limerick, lead institution) aims to transform Ireland’s manufacturing industry to become a world-leader in smart manufacturing. FutureNeuro (RCSI, lead institution) is focused on addressing the socio-economic burden caused by chronic and rare neurological diseases.

ENDS

7 September 2017

For further information contact Micéal Whelan, University College Dublin, Communications Manager (Innovation), e: miceal.whelan@ucd.ie, t: + 353 1 716 3712 or Alva O’Cleirigh, SFI, e: alva.ocleirigh@sfi.ie.

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