€4.5 million Investment Announced to Support Business and Research Partnerships

Posted: 2 December, 2014

The Irish Research Council today (02.12.14) announced €4.5 million in funding to enable some of Ireland’s top postgraduate researchers to work with leading companies around the country. The funding was awarded to 48 researchers at a ceremony today, which took place on board the MV Cill Airne, a former passenger liner docked on North Wall Quay in Dublin.

The €4.5 million is being allocated under the Irish Research Council’s Employment-Based Postgraduate Awards scheme, which enables postgraduate researchers across all academic disciplines to work and undertake research in a business, not-for-profit, NGO or public sector organisation.

The researchers who received funding today are drawn from universities and higher education institutions across the country.

They will begin their employment-based research early next year in over 45 partner companies and organisations. Employers participating in the scheme include IBM, enBIO, Oxymem, Galvanic, Future Analytics, Merchants Quay Ireland, Tusla – The Child and Family Agency, and more.

  • The research projects that received funding cover topics such as:
  • Optimising innovative, energy-efficient wastewater treatment facilities.
  • Developments in surface treatment for the European Space Agency.
  • Undertaking risk assessment for urban development and planning.
  • Enhancing stress reduction through gaming.
  • Developing community engagement strategies to reduce HIV transmission.

Benefits for Industry of Engaging with Research

Speaking at today’s event, Professor Orla Feely, Chair of the Irish Research Council, said: “Increasingly, Irish companies are seeing the benefit of engaging with academia in order to remain competitive in the global economy. By working closely with researchers, companies can accelerate their innovation process. They can bring new products to market faster, gain expertise in specialist areas and, at the same time, help graduates become better equipped for the business world.

“Today, we are highlighting the benefits for companies of working with researchers and what can be achieved when industry and academia join forces to engage in cutting-edge research that is demand-led and enterprise oriented. Industry-academia partnerships have resulted in the development of products that impact on our day-to-day lives, such as internet search technology, cancer treatments, weather prediction software…the list is endless.

“This programme continues to deliver on the Action Plan for Jobs through the creation of research-based employment opportunities and increased participation of indigenous SMEs. By embracing research and using researchers’ expertise to enhance their offerings, Irish companies gain a true competitive edge.

“It is fitting that we are here today, aboard the MV Cill Airne, which was used until 2003 by the Maritime College as a training vessel for engineers, bringing them to sea where they familiarised themselves with radar, lifeboats and engine room-practices. Today, 48 postgraduate researchers will set sail on their career journey and begin to navigate the business world.”

Supporting Growth of Indigenous Enterprise

John O’Donoghue, CEO of EnBIO, an Irish company providing surface treatment for structures for space and aerospace applications, commented: “EnBIO is currently producing coated surfaces for the European Space Agency’s Solar Orbiter mission. In order for our company to grow, we must also move into commercial space applications, for example telecommunication satellites, as well as applications closer to home.

“There are huge benefits for us as a company in being involved with the Irish Research Council’s Employment-Based Programme, in that it allows us to keep abreast of the most cutting-edge research methods and to explore business development ideas to assess if they have potential’

“From the researcher’s perspective, being able to apply your research, see it take shape and, ultimately, be used is invaluable for your career. For us as a company, linking with academic centres is a great way to support us during the proof-of-concept stage. The knowledge is there, the people are there and the high-tech analytical tools are there. Having this at your fingertips is a massive help.”

Minister of State for Skills, Research and Innovation

The Minister of State for Skills, Research and Innovation, Damien English TD, officially announced the 2014 awards.

“I am delighted to announce the Irish Research Council’s Employment-Based Programme awards and to meet some of the leading companies involved and the researchers who will be joining them in the coming year,” he said.

“It is absolutely critical to the success of the Irish economy that we apply research and innovation to our business challenges and provide the necessary supports to enable companies and academic institutions to work together for mutual benefit. The advantages are numerous, including job creation, increased exports, opening up of commercial opportunities, and the positioning of Ireland as a top-class research and innovation centre.

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