Universities in Northern Ireland given access to Republic’s funding scheme

Queen’s and Ulster can take part in Science Foundation Ireland’s Investigators Programme

January 26, 2014

Northern Ireland’s two universities will be able to participate in the Republic of Ireland’s flagship scientific research funding scheme under a new cross-border initiative. 

The agreement to permit Queen’s University Belfast and the University of Ulster to participate in Science Foundation Ireland’s Investigators Programme was signed on 22 January by Stephen Farry, Northern Ireland’s employment and learning minister, and Richard Bruton, the Republic’s minister for jobs, enterprise and innovation.

The agreement – which comes with an £8.4million funding pledge from the Northern Ireland Executive - will apply specifically to collaborative projects involving universities from both jurisdictions; Northern Irish universities will remain unable to apply for awards in their own right.

Mr Farry said the initiative provided a “real opportunity to develop new cross-border research collaborations with the potential, in the longer term, to bring further success under Horizon 2020, the European Commission’s latest research framework programme and a major priority for both governments”.

Mr Bruton said: “Improving our research and development infrastructure is a key priority for both governments, and a key pillar upon which the Irish government’s Action Plan for Jobs is built.”

According to Science Foundation Ireland’s 2013 annual plan, the Investigators Programme, which launched in 2011, aims to support “the development of world class research capability and human capital in areas of science, engineering and mathematics that demonstrably support and underpin enterprise competitiveness and societal development in Ireland”.

Its remit is focused on 14 priority areas deemed to offer the greatest potential for creating wealth and employment in Ireland: mainly areas of technology such as food for health, marine renewable energy, medical devices and processing technologies.

This approach has proved controversial in the Republic of Ireland, with some academics carrying out basic research complaining of having been frozen out.

But Hugh McKenna, pro vice-chancellor for research and innovation at Ulster, was unconcerned by the restrictions.

“The areas highlighted as themes reflect well our own research strengths. Furthermore, we see this as only one of the funding streams we can access; currently we are also linking with the Republic of Ireland on other funding initiatives,” he said.

In a statement Queen’s says it will “seek to encourage applications where research collaboration already exists, and also where it fits with the strategic priorities of the university and the region”.

Mark Ferguson, director general of Science Foundation Ireland and chief scientific adviser to the Irish government, said: “The move towards building Ireland’s international reputation is linked heavily to partnerships such as this, which offer the scientific community in Ireland promising new opportunities.”

paul.jump@tsleducation.com

Already registered?

Sign in now if you are already registered or a current subscriber. Or subscribe for unrestricted access to our digital editions and iPad and iPhone app.

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Lecturer Opportunities Australian Institute of Business
Board Member BOURNEMOUTH UNIVERSITY (MAIN OFFICE)

Most Commented

Elderly woman looking up at sky

A recent paper claims that the quality of researchers declines with age. Five senior scientists consider the data and how they’ve contributed through the years

Otto illustration (5 May 2016)

Craig Brandist on the proletarianisation of a profession and how it leads to behaviours that could hobble higher education

smiley, laugh, happy, funny, silly, face, faces

Scholars should cheer up and learn to take the rough with the smooth, says John Tregoning

Eleanor Shakespeare illustration 19 May 2016

Tim Blackman’s vision of higher education for the 21st century is one in which students of varying abilities learn successfully together

James Minchall illustration (12 May 2016)

An online experiment proves that part of the bill for complying with the Freedom of Information Act is self-inflicted, says Louis Goddard