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Posted: 03 August 2007

UCD awarded 30 million in PRTLI Cycle 4 for transformative initiatives in science and humanities research

The Minister for Education & Science, Ms Mary Hanafin, TD, has announced the latest cycle of HEA PRTLI funding and has awarded UCD €29.838 million.  This is made up of €17.547 million capital infrastructure funding for the development of the UCD Science Centre and €12.291 million recurrent funding for projects in the humanities and sciences.

Welcoming the announcement the President of UCD, Dr Hugh Brady said that the university believes the investment will have direct impact on the next stage of Ireland’s development.  “This timely investment in 4th level and research infrastructure will ultimately contribute to Ireland’s development as a vibrant knowledge society” said Dr Brady. 

“It is particularly gratifying to see very significant investments being made across the full range of UCD’s disciplines from the arts and social sciences to biopharmaceutical science and nanomedicine.”

Within the humanities, the Global Ireland Institute will concentrate on the study of Ireland and its diaspora.  In a radically interdisciplinary programme, the Institute will explore the hypothesis that modern Ireland is more accurately defined as the 70 million global Irish family rather than the 5 million inhabitants of the island and that much of Ireland’s current values, culture, peace and prosperity is due to the influence of this global community.   The Irish Social Science Data Archive will also receive funding to further a national infrastructure in social science data collection and management.

Within the sciences four main collaborative programmes are to receive recurrent funding: 

  • Biopharmaceutical & Pharmacological Sciences programme builds on the €72m National Institute for Bioprocessing Research and Training which is being established by the IDA at Belfield campus.  Together these landmark initiatives will concentrate on providing trained researchers for Ireland’s emerging biopharmaceutical industry (e.g. Wyeth, Amgen). There will be a particular focus on the production of ‘biological therapeutics’ – molecules produced by cells that can be used to treat common human diseases such as arthritis, kidney disease and inflammatory bowel disease.  It complements the existing PRTLI-funded Conway Institute and CSCB (Centre for Synthesis & Chemical Biology) research programmes.
  • Food Ireland supports one of Ireland’s largest industries – agri-business through the development of a national food and health research programme in collaboration.
  • National Nanoscience Programme is designed to impact on emerging nano-technologies identified as key wealth generators in the future.  The programme will create a national nanosciences platform to co-ordinate the activities of the collaborative institutions in key new interdisciplinary areas such as nanotoxicology and nanomedicine.
  • Biomedical Science which will facilitate national consolidation and co-ordination of research and training activities in the biomedical sciences, delivering a coherent information portal and nationally accessibly platform for molecular/translational medicine and biomedical sciences.

On the capital side the funding announced today will enable UCD launch its re-development of UCD Science Centre. “This investment is a catalyst for the creation of a major transformation of science at UCD” said Professor Des Fitzgerald, Vice-President for Research at UCD.  “One of the key priorities in UCD’s campus development plan is the complete upgrade of our science facilities to ensure that we are equipped to produce the science and engineering graduates that are so essential to Ireland’s ongoing economic success. Today’s funding allows us to proceed with the first phase of this development.”

The UCD programmes include collaboration with twelve universities and institutes: UCC, Trinity College Dublin, DCU, NUI Maynooth, University of Limerick, RCSI, Queens University, Cork Institute of Technology, ESRI, Dublin Institute of Technology, IT Tallaght, NUI Galway .

Announcing the awards the Minister said that the PRTLI has helped create a core physical and human foundation for research excellence.  “To date the PRTLI has awarded some 605 million to innovative research and infrastructural projects across the higher education sector,” the Minister said.  “I have agreed that the amount of funding for allocation in this cycle will actually be almost 230 million, 39 million more than we had originally planned.”

The Minister took the occasion to announce that the HEA is to invite proposals from universities and institutes of technology under Round 2 of the Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF).  In this round 130 million will be allocated to support projects that meet the objectives of enhancement of the delivery of core activities of education and research; support for innovation and quality improvement in teaching and learning; and support for access, retention and progression at institutional level and through inter-institutional and inter-sectoral collaboration.

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