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Impact 2030: National blueprint for Ireland's research and innovation will provide new 'opportunities'

Posted 18 May, 2022

UCD Vice President for Research, Innovation and Impact Professor Orla Feely; Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris, TD; UCD Acting Registrar and Deputy President Professor Barbara Dooley; and Deirdre Lillis, Head of Research, Innovation, Evidence for Policy and EU/International at Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science.

The Government's blueprint for building a more inclusive and engaged research and innovation system will provide new “opportunities” to researchers in Ireland, as well as solutions to the challenges facing the nation.

Launched at University College Dublin, 'Impact 2030' outlines a number of new measures, including the amalgamation of Science Foundation Ireland and the Irish Research Council, with a view to improving funding activities, greater public engagement, and simplifying the support available to researchers.

Alongside this, there will be a focus on increasing the number of women involved research and starting their own businesses, as well as increasing the number of research students from under-represented groups, and addressing major societal issues ranging from climate change to health and well-being.

“The fundamental driver of Impact 2030 will be making a real difference for all people across Ireland and beyond,” said Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris, TD.

“We will create an inclusive research and innovation system delivering the solutions for Irish society and our economy, solving our common challenges through teamwork, and enhancing our reputation.

“Achieving our goals will require intense collaboration. The prize could not be more consequential for us and our future generations.”

Welcoming the strategy, UCD Acting Registrar and Deputy President Professor Barbara Dooley said this commitment to investment in research would have “three benefits in terms of [its] impact on society, career opportunities for young researchers and informed knowledge that feeds into our teaching.”

“The national strategy aims to provide favourable conditions and the right environment for research in Ireland, and that is most welcome.”

UCD Vice President for Research, Innovation and Impact and Chair of the Irish Universities Association (IUA) Research Committee Professor Orla Feely added: “This national policy framework provides a real opportunity for Ireland to become a leader in research and innovation in Europe.

“Our universities will be central to the implementation of this strategy, supporting Irish society and the economy by delivering research-trained talent, leading-edge innovation and solutions to major challenges.”

In announcing Impact 2030, Minister Harris said its core purpose was to ensure that Ireland’s investment in research and innovation would make “as big a difference as possible to as many people as possible”.

In order to realise this, the strategy will foster greater engagement among a wide range of stakeholders including research organisations, the tertiary education system, enterprise, public policymakers, civic society organisations and European partners.

This greater engagement will be achieved through a range of initiatives, including:

  • Deeper involvement by the public in the research process, leveraging the recent success 'Creating Our Future' campaign in which people throughout the country submitted over 18,000 ideas about how research and innovation can enhance people’s lives.
  • The creation of a new competitive research and innovation funding agency that, as well as investing in excellent research within disciplines, will integrate human and sciences perspectives.
  • Amalgamating the functions and activities of the Irish Research Council and Science Foundation Ireland, which will be given effect through a landmark Research Bill.
  • Linkages between the public research system and policymakers will be enhanced, led by the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science’s new Evidence for Policy Unit, and supported by new science advice structures.
  • The Technological Universities’ research and innovation offices will be strengthened in order to increase regional impact.
  • A focus placed on increasing the number of female entrepreneurs and researchers and increasing the number of research students from underrepresented groups. This will include a report on inclusion and diversity in the Irish research system to identify issues that host institutions need to address.
  • Enterprise performance throughout the regions will be supported by a new national smart specialisation strategy, led by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment.
  • A Research and Innovation Advisory Forum will be set up that will provide a platform for strategic engagement with the research and innovation community and international experts, chaired by the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science.

“The Irish research and innovation system is a strategic national asset that – through the whole-of-Government approach taken by Impact 2030 – will deliver solutions and will create opportunities to address these grand challenges, building on and continuing its very successful role in Ireland’s economic performance and resilience to date,” said Minister Harris.

“We know we have much more to do to strengthen and support research and innovation in our higher education institutions, in our enterprises, in our public service and for our people.

“As the attraction and retention of world-class talent becomes increasingly competitive on a global level, Ireland needs to be a location of choice for the best and the brightest in order to realise our ambitions.”

By: David Kearns, Digital Journalist / Media Officer, UCD University Relations