Minister Simon Harris announces investment of €7.9 million in research talent for enterprise and employers

Posted: 25 August, 2021

93% of respondents to IRC survey of enterprise partners said that they would recommend awardees to future employers

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris TD, has today (25.08.21) announced an investment of €7.9 million* in 80 research projects under the Irish Research Council’s (IRC) enterprise programmes.

Each year, the IRC partners with around 70 organisations, ranging from multinational corporations to SMEs, public-sector agencies and non-governmental organisations (NGOs), under its Enterprise Partnership Schemes and Employment-Based Postgraduate Programme. Through these co-funded programmes, postgraduate or postdoctoral researchers develop new, advanced knowledge and skills linked with industry and employer needs.

The programmes train early-career researchers for the diversity of employment opportunities in industry, the public sector and the non-government sectors. For enterprise and employers, the schemes provide a low-risk, flexible route to research collaboration and identifying new talent for innovation.

The Enterprise Partnership Scheme provides researchers with the opportunity to pursue research in collaboration with enterprise while based at a higher education institution, while the Employment-Based Postgraduate Programme supports researchers to undertake research based in and employed by their employment partner.

Announcing the investment today, the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris TD, said: “Talent and innovation are key priorities of my department and will be increasingly important to build a sustainable 21st century economy. This investment will further boost the skills and knowledge pipeline for innovation in industry and employers. I am delighted to see both multinational companies and indigenous industry reflected in this year’s enterprise awards. I want to acknowledge the co-funding that partners are bringing to the awards, indeed the public-private partnership dimension to the programmes brings higher education institutions, industry and employers together and cultivates longer-term collaborations of benefit to all.”

Among the researchers awarded funding under the IRC’s enterprise schemes this year are:

  • Soumyadipta Kundu, registered with NUI Galway, who will be based with ONK Therapeutics and will be conducting research in the area of lymphoma cells.
  • Lucy Costelloe, registered with the University of Limerick, who will be based with TicketSolve Ltd. and will be researching how models from the business sector can inform strategies for non-profits in times of crisis.
  • Beatrice Olayiwola, registered with IT Carlow, who will be based with TheraDep Ltd. and will be conducting research on the deposition of antibiotic layers on implant surface and bacterial biofilms.
  • Douglas Carton, registered with University College Dublin, who will be based with MíNAN Technologies and will commence a research project on the development of a microfluidic nanoparticle synthesis device.
  • Jen Balfe, based with RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences, who will conduct a study of the experience of fertility and maternity care for people with cystic fibrosis, supported by Cystic Fibrosis Ireland.

Benefits of enterprise/employer research collaborations



A survey conducted by the IRC of past and current partners confirmed the key benefits of these funding programmes for enterprise and employers.

The most cited reason for engaging with the IRC’s enterprise programmes among survey respondents was to “facilitate research relevant to business and operation needs”, with the second most cited reason being because they “offer excellent value for money, maximising shared benefits”.

The survey findings point to significant benefits for the early-career researchers as well as their enterprise/employment partners. Over two-thirds of respondents said they were likely to employ the researcher they worked with following completion of an IRC programme, while over 93% were likely to recommend the researcher to future employers.

Commenting today on the announcement of the latest round of awards, Peter Brown, Director of the IRC, said: “Ensuring the benefits of new knowledge and talent, across all disciplines, are shared as widely as possible is a key part of our mandate, and our enterprise programmes have always been a key part of our funding portfolio. Whether supporting the expansion of R&D in large-scale industry, boosting SMEs or helping to drive social or cultural innovation, the schemes provide a range of benefits for all participants. The contexts for researchers to make new discoveries and apply state-of-the-art knowledge go well beyond academia, and the diversity of organisational partners in this year’s cohort of awards is testament to the opportunities that are being grasped by enterprise, employers, the awardees and their host institutions.”

Additional key findings from the IRC’s survey include:

  • 97% of enterprises/employers say their organisation’s involvement with IRC programmes strengthened their relationships with higher education and research institutions and/or created further opportunities for collaborative research.
  • Over 70% of enterprises/employers intend to pursue new opportunities via research and innovation in the coming three years.
  • 72% of respondents are interested in interdisciplinary research.

*Includes partner co-funding under the Enterprise Partnership Scheme.

See full list of awardees here

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