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Posted 16 July 2010

UCD secures major funding under PRLTI 5 to boost innovation

UCD has been awarded €62.7m under PRTLI 5 as part of the largest single investment in third-level research in the history of the Irish State. The PRTLI 5 awards were announced by An Taoiseach, Brian Cowen TD today.

In total, €296.1m will be invested across all Irish universities and third-level institutions under PRTLI 5. The construction of many new infrastructural developments such as research facilities and laboratories are included in the funding.

The investment will fuel innovation, research and the creation of jobs. Through this funding, the government aims to support universities in contributing to Ireland’s economic recovery.

Architectural impression of the UCD Science Centre
Architectural impression of the UCD Science Centre

"This announcement is another clear signal that we are confident about the future of our country," said An Taoiseach, Brain Cowen.

"As with the launch earlier this week in New York of Innovation Fund Ireland, we are signalling our confidence - to ourselves and to the world - with concrete measures to support our economy and create new jobs,” he said.

The funding awarded to UCD under PRTLI 5 will support new infrastructural developments, structured PhD programmes (€18.7m across 9 projects) and ground-breaking research in emerging areas (3 projects awarded €4.7m).

Of the fifteen key UCD projects to receive funding, the UCD Science Centre received the largest single award of €37.7m.
The UCD Science Centre will transform research, teaching, training and innovation in science and engineering in Ireland.

It will become a national resource accommodating 2,000 researchers and postgraduate students in over 45,000 m2 of purpose built space. It will build on UCD's flagship research and graduate education programmes to create a coherent physical, academic and technological resource in support of the university’s major research themes.


“The outcome of PRTLI 5 is a major step which will empower all institutions in the state to help create a sustainable future for Ireland,” said UCD President Dr Hugh Brady and the TCD Provost John Hegarty, in a joint statement.

“The establishment of the Innovation Alliance has been vindicated by the PRTLI 5 outcome. The Innovation Alliance is a strong joint effort on the part of UCD and TCD aimed at the education of innovative and flexible graduates and creative thinkers who will put advanced knowledge to work for Ireland.”

“We are particularly pleased that the PRTLI awards include the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences alongside Science, Engineering and Medicine. Such a balanced diversity is essential to a flourishing economy and society,” they said.

“We welcome the award of €1.72 m towards the funding of the Innovation Academy in PRTLI Cycle 5. This represents not just an investment in education today but a positive commitment to a better and more prosperous future. As we face the challenges of the 21st century – not just in Ireland but in a global context – it is clear that we need a new kind of  creative graduate, expert in their discipline, but with a thorough understanding of how innovation can rapidly convert knowledge, ideas, and inventions into products, services, and policies for the benefit of society.”

“Today’s award is an endorsement of the ongoing work of the Alliance as it seeks to transform the doctoral experience by establishing innovation alongside research and education as an integral element of the PhD and of the university as a whole.”

The Innovation Academy is the educational centrepiece of the Innovation Alliance, which was launched in March 2009 as a radical new partnership between Ireland’s two largest and most successful universities. From the beginning the ambition has been to work alongside the government and industry to help drive the smart economy. The Academy will provide innovation and entrepreneurship training, as well as industry mentored interdisciplinary projects, leading towards a joint TCD-UCD Graduate Diploma or Certificate in Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

“We would also like to pay tribute to so many colleagues who have done exceptional work in these difficult times to help deliver on our ambitious strategy to create an environment where innovation and entrepreneurship can thrive,” they concluded.


UCD has been awarded funding for fifteen key projects under PRTLI 5 including:


UCD Science Centre

The UCD Science Centre will transform research, teaching, training and innovation in science and engineering in Ireland. It will underpin the ambitions of the ‘Smart Economy’ by forging a global hub of leading-edge research and science education.

It will build on UCD's flagship research and graduate education programmes to create a coherent physical, academic and technological resource in support of two major research themes - earth sciences and translational medicine.

The UCD Science Centre will provide built-for-purpose facilities for UCD’s rapidly expanding research programmes and integrate research and education in science and engineering, while promoting science to the public. The Science Centre will create a responsive resource with which to target national priorities or sectors where Ireland has a competitive advantage.

Comprising a series of redevelopments and new builds, the UCD Science Centre will on completion become a national resource accommodating 2,000 researchers and postgraduate students in over 50,000 m2 of purpose designed scientific space.


Innovation Academy

The Innovation Academy is the educational centrepiece of the Innovation Alliance. The Academy is a collaborative joint venture in PhD education that builds on existing resources and synergies between the two institutions and recognises the need for Higher Education to be a catalyst for innovation in Ireland.

The mission of the Academy is to develop a new breed of creative graduate, expert in their discipline, but with a thorough understanding of how innovation can rapidly convert knowledge, ideas and inventions into products, services and policies for economic and social benefit.

The Academy will play a central role in the emergence of Ireland as a global hub for innovation. Through its formation, the two universities will “future proof” quality graduate education by dove-tailing with discipline-based PhD programmes, thus enhancing Ireland’s reputation for PhD education and attracting high-quality international students.


Dublin Graduate Physics

The aim is to create a joint UCD/TCD graduate programme that builds on the Dublin Region Higher Education Alliance (DRHEA) to support key research priorities of the Innovation Alliance.

The Dublin Graduate Physics Programme is designed to deliver a structured graduate education steeped in a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship while targeted to strategic research areas of national priority.

It will elevate physics graduate education in Ireland by providing PhD students with the knowledge, skills, confidence and focus to drive new enterprise creation and successful industry employment in the State.


Economics and Political Science (PhD)

This structured PhD programme will harness the research and mentoring capacity of over fifty economists and political scientists in exploring the economic, political and public policy response to the global crisis, as well as in the tools of econometrics and specialist statistical design.

EconPol consolidates the research and doctoral training of UCD and TCD (in the core disciplines of Economics and Political Science) with the policy focus of ESRI to create an international research PhD program that reaches out to other universities and third-level institutions. Through the Innovation Academy students of EconPol will be trained to work within an evolving business culture of innovation and entrepreneurship across a range of sectors.


Electricity Research Centre

In late 2008, the Irish government set a world-leading target to have 40% of electricity produced from renewable sources by 2020. This project will develop the necessary techniques that will be key to Ireland achieving its renewable targets, and in the process create intellectual property and human capital that will underpin Ireland’s Green Technology Enterprise.

It will bring together the foremost researchers in Ireland in the area and is focused on UCD’s Electricity Research Centre, with strong supportive economic analysis from TCD and the Economic and Social Research Institute.


Earth Systems Institute (PhD)

ESI and its partners will bring together research leaders, policy makers and industry to create an interdisciplinary, innovation-focused, structured PhD programme to draw together a wide range of relevant disciplines and expertise at UCD (e.g. agriculture, biofuels, climate and simulation modelling, environmental biology, risk analysis and prediction) and its partner institutions.

Training will prepare the students for industry, academia and government agencies where they will contribute to the emergence of a global reputation, the national deployment of green technology and sustaining the competitiveness of Irish industry, including AgriFood.


Graduate Programme in Chemistry

The Graduate Programme in Chemistry will ensure that our chemistry graduates are trained to the highest international standards, which is essential to the continuing success of the Pharmaceutical/ Chemical, Healthcare and ICT industries, main-stays of the Irish economy, and as the creators of a sustainable economy.


Graduate Programme in Engineering

An Engineering Structured PhD Programme (Engineering SPP) to provide the infrastructure for high quality engineering PhD graduate education that will produce the critical mass of talented and capable engineers required to underpin the design and development of products and devices that will drive economic growth and sustainability.


Innovation Policy Simulation for the Smart Economy

This project on optimising strategies for Irish innovation networks  help work on options for anticipating and analysing new developments to help the recovery of the economy.
Building on research in traditional fields already firmly present in Ireland (e.g. tax, healthcare, financial services, management, industry R&D, policy research), new problem fields for the Irish Smart Economy (e.g. green economy, public sector innovation, adaptive policy networks) will be tackled using our novel methodological framework.


Molecular Medicine Ireland Structured Graduate PhD Programme

The MMI partner universities will address the shortage of scientists in Ireland undertaking innovative patient - and disease - focused research and with an understanding of how to bring research results to the clinic by developing a structured PhD programme in clinical and translational research to produce scientists trained to generate innovative discoveries and translate them to the clinical and commercial arena.


Molecular and Cellular Mechanisms in Biology Structured Graduate PhD Programme

As we seek to grow an indigenous biotechnology sector of scale, the quality of our graduates and the research they conduct of relevance to these sectors will be paramount.  This programme is intended to develop an excellent Structured PhD Programme which has a strong inter-institutional and interdisciplinary component, that will benefit the recruited students and all future student cohorts to further develop existing strategic research strengths in cell and molecular biology of inflammation, that transcends Immunology, Neuroscience and Cancer.



A research programme bringing together an interdisciplinary team of scientists who work in the fields of nanomechanics and systems biology to identify the molecular mechanism(s) of nanomechanical transduction in cells. The applications of the research are strongly linked to the medical device industry.


Simulation Science Structured Graduate PhD Programme

Advances in the speed of computers, mathematical modelling and computational algorithms, together with the data explosion mean that Simulation is emerging a new paradigm in Physical, Biological, Social and Economic Sciences. A major change in the educational system is required to equip future generations with knowledge of simulation techniques and their value in driving forward science, technology and innovation. The Simulation Science structured PhD programme will be aligned with the Innovation Academy.


Telecommunications Graduate Initiative

The Telecommunications Graduate Initiative (TGI) is a graduate training programme with the primary aim of making Ireland the best European location for research in the broad domain of telecommunications including physical transportation of data, networking protocols/architectures and telecommunications service delivery.


Irish Transgenic Network


UCD is also involved as a partner and a supporting partner in several other projects led by other Irish universities and third-level institutions which received funding under PRTLI 5 which will run between 2011 and 2016.


(Produced by UCD University Relations)


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architectural impression of the UCD Science Centre