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SFI: 13 a landmark yr for Irish research

Thursday, July 31 10:30:30

Last year marked a historic watershed in the development of research in Ireland with E152m invested in 307 new research awards to 20 institutions through Science Foundation Ireland (SFI).

Its annual report published this morning shows that seven new, world-leading research centres were delivered through 300 million investment from SFI and over 150 companies - the largest collaborative research programme in the history of the country.

The report shows that 2,656 researchers were supported through SFI programmes in 2013 with 54 patents registered, 27 technologies licensed and four spin off companies created.

The international reputation of Ireland was greatly enhanced through 1,955 national and international collaborations in 48 countries while SFI awards directly supported over 900 collaborations with industry.

Ireland is now ranked 1st in the world for Immunology, 1st for Animal and Dairy, 3rd for Nanosciences, 4th in Computer Science and 6th for Materials Science, it noted.

Chairman of SFI Ann Riordan said 2013 was one of the most important and formative in its existence with the expansion of its remit allowing it to fund both applied as well as basic research for the first time.

"It was also the first full year of delivery under SFI's strategic plan Agenda 2020. SFI's considerable achievements during the year underline its overall importance in helping to create an environment conducive to attracting, retaining, expanding and initiating the type of industry that will lead to the creation of more high value jobs in Ireland. SFI is building an impressive international reputation as a progressive funding agency and a model for other similarly sized countries to follow. SFI is succeeding in achieving this through a very efficient model that combines a low operating cost base with a very strong focus on delivery and measurement," she said.

Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland, said SFI ranks as one of the most productive and efficient such organisations.

"Last year was an important year for SFI and one in which the organisation continued to deliver for its stakeholders. SFI's operating model is now best in class internationally with a much lower cost base than our peers in other countries. SFI's SESAME system for the accurate collection of a comprehensive suite of output and impact metrics went live in 2013 and this along with ongoing international benchmarking will allow us to better measure and evaluate SFI's overall economic impact in the years ahead."

Announcing the publication of the report, Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton TD said: "A key part of our Action Plan for Jobs is building up our research and innovation systems, and ensuring that our spend in this area is focused on turning good ideas into good jobs. The results contained in today's SFI annual report show that this strategy is beginning to pay off. Most importantly, the figures show that approximately two-thirds of the job announcements made by the IDA in 2013 had a link to SFI research. I commend Mark Ferguson and all his team on these impressive results, and look forward to working with them in the coming years".

For more visit: www.businessworld.ie