Irish Research Council to invest €12m in world-class frontier research

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Council is investing €11.8 million with twelve researchers under the Advanced Laureate Awards Programme

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16 April 2019 | 0

The Irish Research Council are funding €11.8 million investment under their 2019 Advanced Laureate Awards Programme. The funding, which will be given to twelve researchers, was announced 11h April by Joe McHugh, Minister for Education and Skills and John Halligan, Minister of State for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development.

Those who obtained funding are breaking new ground with world class research in multiple disciplines, ranging from breast cancer treatments to 3-D printed batteries. A maximum of €1 million will be awarded to each awardee over four years.

Speaking about the news, Minister McHugh said: “The Irish Research Council Advanced Laureate Programme was specifically designed to address gaps in the Irish research and innovation landscape in the area of frontier basic research, as identified in Innovation 2020, Ireland’s five-year strategy for science and technology, research and development.”

He says that such funding is “in order for us to compete with our counterparts on the global stage, and to promote Ireland as an attractive location for world-class talent, both homegrown and international, in order to bring new knowledge, skills and innovations to our research institutions.”

Minister of State Halligan says the chosen projects “have the potential to break new ground and enhance our understanding in a diverse range of areas. They are great examples of why it is important to fund basic research. Supporting these exceptional researchers will help to strengthen Ireland’s knowledge base and enhance our international reputation.”

Peter Brown, Director of the Irish Research Council referenced the extraordinary standard of the researchers’ work, saying that those who secured funding are all exceptional in their fields and have been selected following a rigorous and independent international peer-review process.”

Commenting on the quality of research conducted in Ireland, Brown says that, from 140 applicants, twelve received funding but “a further 48 proposals were deemed to be excellent and fundable by the international panels of experts. This illustrates the high quality of researchers and the calibre of proposals being generated in frontier research in Ireland. The Council is committed to establishing regular calls under the Laureate awards to ensure that leading-edge, world-class research does not go unfunded.”

However, he does note the significant gender imbalance with 75% of awardees being male and only 25% female. “The gendered distribution of research grants at the advanced career stage is a very real issue, both in Ireland and internationally,” says Brown. 

“Although this outcome is similar to benchmarks such as the European Research Council Advanced Grant, no-one can be satisfied with the current imbalance. Ireland is now taking major steps to address the gender disparity in senior research and academic positions, as outlined in the Gender Equality Taskforce Action Plan.”

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