SFI report shows 43% increase in funding from industry

Prof Mark Ferguson, SFI
Prof Mark Ferguson, SFI

Almost 40,000 jobs directly supported by industry/academic partnerships

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24 July 2019 | 0

For every €1 invested by the State in SFI Research Centres, €5 was returned to the economy. That’s according to Science Foundation Ireland’s (SFI) annual report, issued this week.

In 2018, SFI significantly increased the economic return it generates from public funding, delivering an increase of almost 30% in the number of jobs it supports and a 20% increase in researcher engagement with the public.

In 2018, SFI invested €188 million from the Dept of Business, Enterprise & Innovation into supporting Irish research and generating new industry and international collaborations, which generated a further €230 million in non-government funding (an increase of 31%), including €98 million won competitively from the EU. Funding from industry increased by 43% to €46 million.

Five SFI Research Centres launched in 2018 – Confirm, FutureNeuro, Beacon, I-Form and VistaMilk – received a combined investment of €90 million.

Over the same period the number of activities participated in by SFI researchers to educate the public on the benefits of careers in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) increased by 20%.

Commenting on the report, John Halligan, Minister of State for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research & Development, said: “2018 was a very positive year for Science Foundation Ireland. Its investment of €13.7 million in the next generation of STEM talent through SFI Career Development Awards, and the launch of 41 diverse initiatives through the SFI Discover Programme to promote STEM to young people and harder to reach audiences, will help to futureproof our talent pipeline.”

The report also found that:

  • SFI-funded researchers competitively won €230 million from several diverse sources (up by 31%).
  • Six European Research Council awards were won by SFI researchers.
  • SFI supported 39,823 jobs in Ireland (up by 28%), including 4,924 people working on SFI-supported projects.
  • Across the portfolio, SFI-funded researchers were involved in 12 spin-out companies, 51 patent awards and 174 invention disclosures.
  • 72% of academic-academic collaborations are international (2,715 research collaborations spanning 74 countries). This includes eight new awards as part of a programme between SFI and the National Natural Science Foundation of China.
  • SFI continued to develop partnerships with the National Science Foundation in the US by establishing its first overseas post to identify and facilitate research collaboration opportunities. This is further evidenced by the 454 US-Ireland research collaborations and the €75 million invested across 45 successful partnerships to-date.
  • 2018 saw 897 regional industry collaborations, 504 of which were with multinational companies and 393 with SMEs.

Prof Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland (pictured), said: “In 2018, we increased our efforts to support significant research capacity in areas of strategic national importance, such as climate, marine and renewable energy, agri-tech, bio-economy and smart manufacturing, delivering on Science Foundation Ireland’s strategy, Agenda 2020, and important Government strategies, Future Jobs Ireland and Global Ireland 2025. The new SFI Centres for Research Training Programme, representing an investment of over €100 million, will deliver on Project 2040’s objective of building a strong economy by expanding Ireland’s research capacity to meet industry skills needs, and providing training for over 700 postgraduate students.

“At the end of 2018, 45% of SFI-funded original and review articles were open access, bringing us closer to our goal of achieving full and immediate open access for all SFI-funded research publications by 2021. This increased access allows the societal and economic benefits of our funded research to go further. As we build on this continued growth and look to 2019 and beyond, Science Foundation Ireland’s new strategy for 2020-2025 will aim to empower our research community, focusing on the areas where we can bring the most value.”

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