SFI sets target of becoming world-leading funding agency by 2020

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12 November 2012 | 0

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton today launched an ambitious eight-year plan by the Government’s science agency, Science Foundation Ireland (SFI): Agenda 2020.

Key targets included in the strategy include making SFI the world’s best science funding agency for creating impact from excellent research and demonstrating clear value for money; attracting a top-tier talent to lead an SFI-funded team in Ireland by 2015; SFI researcher/team to win a major international prize by 2020; doubling the proportion of patents, invention disclosures, licences and spin-outs by Enterprise Ireland that are linked to SFI research; and increasing the proportion os SFI trainees moving to industry as a first destination by 2020 to 50%.

Ministers Bruton and Minister for Research and Innovation, Sean Sean Sherlock, also announced the details of a €30 million investment in research infrastructure by SFI. The funding was awarded to research groups where projects demonstrated partnerships and collaborations, links with industry, relevance to Ireland’s prioritised research areas and sustainable planning. A total of 37 projects were approved for projects including an ‘aberration corrected electron microscope’ (for CRANN, TCD) in to enable scientists to study materials within atoms in new ways, imaging at a magnification of 10 million; a marine energy testing site in Galway Bay to help source renewable energy from the power of the ocean (Marine Institute); and a ‘microvascular tomography system’ which will enable doctors to see high-contrast three-dimensional images from inside the body (NUIG).

Speaking at the launch, Minister Bruton said: “Central to the Government’s plans for jobs and growth is ensuring that we get more, as an economy, out of our investment in scientific research over the past decade. We must ensure that more of our investment is targeted at commercial outcomes and ultimately at turning good ideas into good jobs. “

Prof Mark Ferguson, director general, SFI (pictured), added: “Agenda 2020 is an ambitious plan to position Ireland as a global knowledge leader, a society with scientific and engineering research at its core, driving economic, social and cultural development.  Implementing the plan will enable Ireland to gain international competitive advantage.

“We are delighted to be in a position to support such important research projects with the appropriate infrastructure.  Today’s funding announcement will advance the realisation of Agenda 2020.  This strategy represents an enormous challenge to all members of the scientific research and enterprise ecosystem in Ireland, but it is a challenge that we face with great confidence and enthusiasm.”

The publication of Agenda 2020 follows an open consultation process with scientific researchers, industrial companies, academics, professional bodies and other interested parties.  

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