Ten University College Dublin Teams Receive Funding under the €65 million National Challenge Fund

Professor Philip Nolan, Director General, Science Foundation Ireland, EU Commissioner Mairead McGuinness and Professor Peter Clinch, Chairman of the Board of Science Foundation Ireland.

Ten University College Dublin Teams Receive Funding under the €65 million National Challenge Fund

 - Focus of funding is to accelerate climate resilience solutions and create transformational disruptive digital technologies

Simon Harris TD, Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science has announced the first 26 teams, including 10 University College Dublin (UCD) teams, which are to receive funding under the €65 million National Challenge Fund.

The National Challenge Fund, coordinated and administered by Science Foundation Ireland, is funded by the EU’s Recovery and Resilience Facility. The successful teams are seeking to address the first two challenges; Ireland’s drive towards climate neutrality by 2050, and the best use of disruptive digital technologies.

The National Challenge consists of eight challenges in total and it aims to fund approximately 90 research teams with up to €250k over 18-months to develop their ideas.

Minister Harris TD said, "This is an exciting day for research and innovation in Ireland as a whole. We know that there is an urgent need to find solutions to big societal problems and to implement new ideas as quickly as we can. Putting research and innovation to work for the benefit of the people of Ireland is at the heart of our strategy, Impact 2030.”

“All eight challenges in the National Challenge Fund are designed to find and promote solutions within this decade, and I look forward to seeing the results these teams produce. When encouraged and nurtured, ingenuity from Ireland can and will improve life here, and around

Mairead McGuiness, EU Commissioner for Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets, said, "I am delighted that EU funding, through the National Challenge Fund, is being used to future-proof our economy and society. The emphasis on research and innovation will support ongoing work on the green and digital transitions, and so it will help create a more sustainable future. I wish all the teams much success with their research that will bring benefits to the whole of the European Union. We are stronger together."

The 2050 Challenge seeks transformative, forward-looking solutions to Ireland becoming climate neutral and resilient by 2050.

The two successfully funded UCD teams in this Challenge are;

Dr Thomas Hooper, UCD School of Chemistry, co-lead Dr Ioscani Jimemez de Val, UCD School of Chemical and Bioprocess Engineering, Fluorocapture - reducing fluorinated gas emission by converting fluorinated gases to chemical building blocks for industry.

Dr Andrew Phillips, UCD School of Chemistry, co-lead Dr James Carton, Dublin City University, RSER - renewable energy storage for mobile applications.

The Future Digital Challenge invites transformational societal and economic impact from disruptive digital technologies.

The eight successfully funded UCD teams in this Challenge are;

Dr Oisín Boydell, UCD School of Computer Science and co-lead Dr Eoghan Holohan, UCD School of Earth Sciences, AI2Peat - combining artificial and human intelligence for peatland monitoring.

Dr Cailbhe Doherty, UCD School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Sports Science and co-lead Dr Rob Argent, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Cerberus - acting as a watchdog for consumers of wearable devices for health and fitness.

Dr Ibrahim Khalil, UCD School of Agriculture and Food Science and co-lead Dr Anca Delia Jurcuti, UCD School of Computer Science, HOLOS-IE -digital tool to assess Irish agricultural land use and management to reduce pollution.

Professor Eleni Mangina, UCD School of Computer Science and co-lead Dr Abraham Campbell, UCD School of Computer Science, STROHAB - using extended reality and artificial intelligence to allow for tele-rehabilitation for stroke patients.

Last year, Dr Jibraan Esoof, STROHAB, completed Enterprise Ireland's New Frontiers Phase Two programme run by the IADT Media Cube in partnership with NovaUCD. STROHAB is a new neurorehabilitation analytics group based in the UCD School of Computer Science. Dr Esoof (Medical Research Officer) will lead on commercial, regulatory and clinical direction of creating novel digital health solutions.

Dr Di Nguyen, UCD School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering and co-lead Dr Vincent Hargaden, UCD School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, ReApt - improving the accuracy of real-time public transport information to support passengers and those allocating resources in the system.

Dr Vikram Pakrashi, UCD School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering and co-lead Dr Michelle Carey, UCD School of Mathematics and Statistics, TRaIn - sensors to allow trains in motion to inspect the tracks they run on for signs of degradation.

Dr Stephen Redmond, UCD School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering and co-lead Dr David McKeown, UCD School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, Light Touch Robotics - developing a sense of touch for robotic grippers to enable them to do more tasks in industry.

Dr Nan Zhang, UCD School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering and Professor Wenxin Wang, UCD School of Medicine, AI-Form - using artificial intelligence to accelerate nanomedicine development.

The teams will begin their tasks by working with people directly affected by the problems they are trying to solve, and by learning more about how to build from research ideas to tangible solutions. Under each challenge stream, a number of teams will then be awarded follow-on funding of up to €500k before going on to compete for prizes between €1 million to €2 million.

Science Foundation Ireland Director General Professor Philip Nolan said, "Challenge-based funding in Ireland has already reaped rewards and we are working to make sure the best of Irish research benefits the people of this country as quickly as possible. I am looking forward to seeing these teams develop and progress their ideas and wish them good luck in doing so.”

“For researchers, it’s not too late to get involved in the National Challenge Fund, as we have two more calls opening next week. These are great opportunities for the talent and dedication of the Irish research community to make a real change to the world around them."

The National Challenge Fund was established under the Government’s National Recovery and Resilience Plan (NRRP), funded by the EU’s Recovery and Resilience Facility. The next teams to join the Challenges will be announced in June.

Further details on all successfully funded projects available via https://www.gov.ie/en/press-release/aa7e1-minister-harris-and-commissioner-mcguinness-announce-65-million-for-26-teams-under-national-challenge-fund


14 February 2023

For further information contact Micéal Whelan, Communications and Media Relations Manager, NovaUCD, UCD Research and Innovation, e: miceal.whelan@ucd.ie