€34 million EU funding boost for early-career researchers in Ireland
Posted: 5 October, 2022
Irish research organisations secured an impressive €34 million in funding from the European Union to support early-career researchers. The funding was competitively won through the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) under Horizon Europe, the EU’s mechanism for funding research and innovation projects from 2021 to 2027.
Success in the MSCA contributes to many national priorities, as outlined in the Government’s current strategy for research and innovation, Impact 2030, such as attracting world-class talent to Ireland, developing structured PhD programmes, improved training and skills development for all sectors, strengthening academic-industry links in research, and achieving global visibility for Ireland-based research-active organisations.
The funding will enable cutting-edge research on important national and global challenges:
For example, Dr Debbie Ging, from Dublin City University, will lead partners from Greece, Denmark, the UK, Finland, Norway and the Netherlands in implementing a world-class European-wide PhD training programme. The PhD students will investigate cyberbullying prevention and interventions with a focus on the key role of parents, as well as the role of gender, disability, ethnicity and sexuality.
Professor Izabela Naydenova at Technological University Dublin will collaborate with researchers across Europe on a PhD training programme aiming to develop sophisticated sensors which will be able to detect harmful pollutants in the air improving the quality of our air in indoor spaces.
Funded through the MSCA Postdoctoral Fellowships, Dr Rajiv Borah, from Trinity College Dublin, will develop a novel approach to restore spinal cord functionality using minimally invasive materials enabling patients to recover from spinal cord injuries. Dr Jenna Lorusso, from the University of Limerick, aims to transform the quality of physical education by enhancing the development of physical education stakeholders’ policy capacity.
Ireland’s early success in the MSCA under Horizon Europe builds from a notable performance in Horizon 2020, the EU’s previous funding mechanism (2014 – 2020). By the end of Horizon 2020, Ireland ranked third in Europe after Denmark and Cyprus in terms of MSCA funding secured per capita. From Horizon 2020, the MSCA is the area of highest funding secured by Ireland with over €196 million won over the seven years: Ireland secured a total of €1.21 billion from over 20 different research funding programmes within Horizon 2020. It is also notable that, on average, applicants from Irish organisations achieved success rates in MSCA funding calls which most often exceeded the corresponding European average success rates. This means that applicants from Ireland, on average, are typically more competitive than their European peers.
Commenting on Ireland’s success, Dr Yvonne Halpin, the head of the Irish Marie Skłodowska-Curie Office (IMSCO), said: “This is a fantastic result for Ireland in what is a very competitive programme. It puts us in a strong starting position to better our previous success in the MSCA and helps to achieve the Government’s objective of leveraging EU funding to augment the national budget for cutting-edge research. The provision of national supports like the IMSCO play a key role in supporting applicants and achieving success in a very competitive European research funding landscape.”.
Welcoming the results from the first year of Horizon Europe, Kevin Burke, National Director for Horizon Europe at Enterprise Ireland, said: “This result is a testimony to the excellence of research in Ireland and the quality of the hands-on support provided by the Irish Marie Skłodowska-Curie Office to applicants. The IMSCO is part of the National Support Network for Horizon Europe, which comprises of a team of advisors who work with Ireland’s researchers, innovators and entrepreneurs to help them compete for funding from Horizon Europe which has a budget of more than €95 billion. The funding possibilities in Horizon Europe and the MSCA are one example of the benefits of Horizon Europe participation, the programme also offers unparalleled opportunities for international collaboration, engagement with industry and networking with the best researchers in Europe while strengthening our own research base.”
Welcoming the 2021 results, Dr Louise Callinan, Director of the Irish Research Council, said: “The Irish Research Council has invested in the Irish Marie Skłodowska-Curie Office through our strategic partnership with the IUA since 2012, and has thereby supported excellent performance by Ireland and Irish researchers in this critical funding programme. We are committed to this strategic support for the Irish research community, in order to encourage a diversity of talented researchers across all disciplines, and to realise the Government’s ambition in Impact 2030 that Ireland exceed the excellent performance achieved under Horizon 2020. We are delighted that preliminary figures on Irish researchers’ success in MSCA under Horizon Europe strongly indicate Ireland’s continued competitiveness.”.