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News & Events

Minister English announces publication of Science Foundation Ireland Annual Report 2014

2014 was a significant year for the organisation during which 5 new world-class research centres were approved

Ireland moves up four places in the global scientific rankings

Key Highlights:

Ireland now ranked 16th in global scientific ranking - up from 20th position.
SFI invested €155 million in five new world class SFI Research Centres, supported by €90 million co-investment from industry.
SFI supported over 1,200 collaborations with industry (650 MNCs, 561 SMEs).
International reputation of Ireland enhanced through 1,843 international academic collaborations in 57 countries.
SFI was awarded SWiFT 3000 certification by National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI) demonstrating exemplar corporate governance.

Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) today published its 2014 Annual Report. 2014 was a significant year for SFI, during which the organisation continued to deliver on its Strategic Plan - Agenda 2020 as well as targets included in the Government’s Action Plan for Jobs.

Announcing the publication of the report, Minister for Skills, Research and Innovation Damien English TD said, “During 2014, Ireland moved up the international rankings for the quality of its scientific research to number 16th – clearly demonstrating the excellent research undertaken here. The Government, through the national and regional Action Plans for Jobs and the upcoming Science Strategy, is focused on creating an environment in which excellent scientific research that impacts positively on Ireland’s economy and society is supported. In doing so, we continue to attract new investment to Ireland and create high value jobs, as well as increase commercial opportunities for startups and SMEs nationwide through our highly collaborative research eco-system. I commend SFI and Professor Ferguson on their work to date, and look forward to seeing similar results into the year ahead.”

A key highlight for SFI during 2014, was the establishment of five new world leading SFI Research Centres of scale and excellence in Ireland through a Government-Industry funding collaboration of €245million over 6 years. The centres supportcritical and emerging areas of the economy including applied geosciences, software and medical devices, supporting 700 researcher positions and that will help to position Ireland as an important location for FDI investment. This investment brings the total number of SFI Research Centres in Ireland to twelve.

Chairman of SFI Ann Riordan said: ”I am pleased to report that 2014 has been a significant year in which we have continued with our mission of placing science at the heart of Ireland’s economy and society and creating an environment which helps to attract investment, generate ideas that spur job creation by supporting new and existing industry. SFI delivers this, by maintaining a focus on efficient, lean management and values based principles, which have monitoring and measurement at the core and by ensuring value for money for the Irish taxpayer. During 2014 the organisation continued to deliver on its Strategic Plan - Agenda 2020, as well as targets included in the Government’s Action Plan for Jobs. I am pleased that SFI was awarded SWiFT 3000 certification by NSAI, achieving the highest Swift 3000 assessment score awarded to date by the NSAI which clearly indicates the exemplar standards of corporate governance within SFI. We will continue to focus on such an efficient model of impact and return into the year ahead.”

Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland, said: “We operate in a globally competitive environment where investment in research is critical to maintaining our competitive edge by providing creative ideas and skilled people. Ireland is succeeding in terms of creating high-value jobs in the STEM sector, encouraging industry collaboration, commercialising research and promoting science and innovation amongst the general public. SFI is focused on catalysing - What’s Next. We will continue to support the best researchers with great ideas which lead to excellent projects that have the potential to make a real difference to Ireland – positively impacting on our society and economy.”

SFI’s priorities for 2015 include:

· Developing significant strategic partnerships with industry, charities and international funders;

· Building capacity within the research system, recruiting both established leaders and emerging stars, in areas of strategic importance to Ireland.

· Increasing support for early career researchers through programmes such as the Starting Investigator Research Grant (SIRG) and Career Development Award (CDA).

· Catalysing successful applications to the European Union Horizon 2020 research programme, including the ERC.

· The 20th anniversary celebrations of National Science Week will take place. Public consultations will be held to evaluate public awareness of science.

· Implementation of the new Smart Futures three year plan to deliver and increase the uptake of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) subjects in collaboration with industry.

Additional Highlights from 2014:

SFI supported a human capital base of approximately 2,800 researchers/team members throughout the research eco-system in Ireland, this included 468 leading researchers, 1,665 postdoctoral researchers and postgraduate students.
SFI supported 2,029 scientific publications (45% co-authored with internationally based researchers, 8% with an industry co-author).
The first (2014) ERC calls under the Horizon 2020 Programme have seen an unparalleled level of success for researchers based in Ireland, with 18 awards, with a combined value of over €30 million.
A new collaborative agreement was signed with the Royal Society.
Science Week 2014 reached over 250,000 people through over 800 events nationwide.
SFI Discover provided funding to a number of programmes that support and develop the STEM education and outreach sector in Ireland. Thirty-three new projects were approved with a direct audience reach of 402,975.

· Prof Robert Bogdan Staszewski, was recruited by UCD to lead a cutting-edge research programme to increase Ireland’s capability as a global centre for the ‘Internet-of-Things’. Prof Staszewski was awarded €5 million in funding under SFI’s Research Professorship Programme.

The Smart Futures initiative, a new three year plan to deliver and increase the uptake of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) subjects, was launched in 2014.
SFI researchers were involved in organising 764 national and international conferences (528 were in Ireland).
SFI invested €274million in 343 new research awards across 23 programmes in Ireland.

· Five projects were approved for funding at a total cost of €2.5 million to SFI under the SFI-Pfizer Biotherapeutics Innovation Award Programme which supports highly competitive, collaborative research projects between Pfizer and Irish academics with the objective of identifying biopharmaceutical candidates directed against novel disease targets or pathways of interest.

SFI continues to grow its global reach as the SFI funded community is involved in 1,843 international academic collaborations in 57 countries across the globe.

The SFI 2014 Annual Report in full can be downloaded from the SFI website www.sfi.ie

ENDS

About Science Foundation Ireland (SFI)

SFI funds oriented basic and applied research in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) which promotes and assists the development and competitiveness of industry, enterprise and employment in Ireland. The Foundation also promotes and supports the study of, education in and engagement with, STEM and promotes an awareness and understanding of the value of STEM to society and in particular to the growth of the economy. See www.sfi.ie

For further information please contact:

Alva O’Cleirigh, Science Foundation Ireland, Alva.OCleirigh@sfi.ie /+353 (0)1 607 3249 /087 9152553

Niamh Bradley, Science Foundation Ireland, Niamh.Bradley@sfi.ie /+353 (0)1 607 3228/086 0271744

Press Office, D/Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation ph. 6312200 or press.office@djei.ie