Irish Innovation: Bruton announces plans for 5 new "world-class" research centres
By Michael Hennigan, Finfacts founder and editor
Oct 20, 2014 - 6:33 AM

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Irish Innovation: Richard Bruton, enterprise minister, today announced plans for  5 new "world-class" research centres to be mainly funded by Science Foundation Ireland, the public agency.

Beware of terms such as  "world-class" and "cutting-edge," which have been used for almost a decade in respect of funding research but the outcomes that have been published have been patchy - - patenting for example remains low and the State covers most of collaboration costs through direct funding, tax credits and free facilities, while no worthwhile information is published on company contributions.

Replacing the Double Irish with Knowledge Development / Patent Box - Part 2

A 2013 study by Times Higher Education which produces university ranking put Ireland at the last of 30 countries behind Portugal for business funding of university research.-  the Netherlands was third at $72,000 per researcher, Ireland was at $8,300.

In April 2014, The Global Information Technology Report 2014, produced by INSEAD, the French business school, the World Economic Forum and Cornell University gave Ireland a 26th rank, up from 27 in 2013.

Finland was on top.

Focus on Irish food industry's bigger potential than chemicals or high tech

About €245m is to be invested in the 5 new "world-class Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) research centres," to improve research in "critical and emerging areas of the economy including applied geosciences, software and medical devices."

The Department of Jobs through SFI will invest €155m directly and €90m in "cash and in-kind contributions" will be available from industry partners.

The aspiration is to have “cutting-edge research in critical and emerging sectors of the economy which are key for job creation in Ireland”, and the funding will be provided over the next six years, 2014-2020.

The five SFI Research Centres will have over 165 industry collaborations with partners ranging from multinationals to SMEs and including Intel, Google, Microsoft, Medtronic Vascular Galway Ltd, Xilinx, and  Huawei, the Chinese tech firm.

The huge number suggest that individual firms have not the confidence to investment significant sums -- the vested interests will say that this is negativity but it's fact.

Richard Bruton
said that the initiative is “aimed at achieving a step-change in the reputation and performance of Ireland’s research system”.

Professor Mark Ferguson
, director general of Science Foundation Ireland and chief scientific adviser to the Government of Ireland, said, “These five new SFI Research Centres were selected following a highly competitive and rigorous international peer review process which screened for scientific excellence and assessed potential economic and societal impact. These five SFI Research Centres complement the seven we announced last year – which are already having a major positive impact: making important scientific advances, initiating and enhancing enterprise, training people with appropriate skills, winning EU projects and enhancing Ireland’s international reputation. These SFI Research Centres combine scientific research with deep and significant enterprise engagement, excellence and impact. We are confident that they will make a significant contribution to Ireland’s economy, employment and reputation.”

The five centres involve a collaborative partnership across institutions in Ireland with participation from Cork Institute of Technology; Dublin City University; Dublin Institute of Technology; Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies; Dundalk IT; NUI Galway; Maynooth University; Royal College of Surgeons Ireland; Trinity College Dublin; Tyndall National Institute; University College Cork; University College Dublin; University of Limerick and Waterford Institute of Technology. The five new SFI Research Centres are as follows:

- Adapt - global digital connectivity enables enterprises, communities and individuals to share information and communicate globally at incredible speed, in enormous volumes, across the world’s languages and over an ever-increasing number of devices.

- CONNECT Centre for Future Networks & Communications - The key challenges that face society all drive the need for new and varied forms of networked services. These include mobile internet, connected health, smart agriculture, smart grids and metering, and environmental monitoring services. The CONNECT Centre focuses on future broadband, cellular and Internet-of-Things networks on which all of these services will be enabled; thereby growing the economy and supporting society at large;

- CÚRAM Centre for Research in Medical Devices - As the global population ages, one in three people are expected to be over 65 by 2050, with the potential financial burden for healthcare expected to rise. CÚRAM is engaged in research to radically improve health outcomes for patients by developing innovative implantable ‘smart’ medical devices to treat major unmet medical needs. This research will position Ireland as the leader in developing medical device technologies which will provide affordable transformative solutions for chronic diseases;

- iCRAG Centre for Research in Applied Geosciences - Geoscience underpins the discovery of raw materials, water and energy resources that are critical to the world’s economy. With increasing demand and diminishing supply, focused innovations in geoscience are of paramount importance globally. Ireland is home to Europe’s largest zinc mine, untapped hydrocarbon resources in challenging North East Atlantic deep water environments, and a diverse geological framework with important untapped seabed and groundwater resources. The iCRAG centre will carry out research to find and harness these resources whilst protecting the environment;

- LERO The Irish Software Research Centre - Software is everywhere and key Irish industry sectors such as manufacturing, medical devices, financial services, cloud computing, analytics, and smart cities depend on it. LERO’s research mission is to replicate the success of traditional software engineering in the context of large-scale, pervasive, physically-integrated, highly interconnected, evolving, and continuously-available systems, in which the boundary between design-time and runtime is disappearing.

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