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University College Cork is to lead four of seven new research centres, co-lead a fifth and partner the remaining two in a a new €300m joint state and industry research programme.
State investment of €200m will be matched by a contribution of €100m by the business sector over the next six years. Ministers Richard Bruton and Sean Sherlock made the announcement this week, along with the seven centres chosen, from over 80 applications.
The research centres that will be led by UCC include the Irish Photonic Integration Research Centre under Professor Paul Townsend at the Tyndall National Institute, the Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre, under Professor Fergus Shanahan, the Irish Centre for Fetal and Neonatal Translational Research under Professors Louise Kenny and Geraldine Boylan, which specialises in researching high risks during infancy.
The Marine Renewable Energy Ireland, under Professor Alistair Borthwick is also included in the investment as well as Ireland’s Big Data and Analytics Research Centre (INSIGHT), a national research centre that is co-hosted by UCC, UCD, DCU, and NUIG, with lead principal investigators at each site.
The co-leading principal investigator of INSIGHT at UCC is Professor Barry O’Sullivan.
“The effect will be to allow each of these areas to build up a very active, dynamic programme of research, bringing together people from different backgrounds and different disciplines, all focused on the same research objectives,” said UCC’s Vice President for Research and Innovation, Professor Anita Maguire.
“In practice, this means that they will be able to take on board many young researchers, PhD students and postdoctoral researchers, working together as a large team and interacting with industry partners. The fruits of this will become obvious over the coming years.”
“Each one of our centres will be operating at the top level internationally, partnering with other centres of excellence, nationally and internationally. The UCC centres, incidentally, are in areas that will be of key significance for the upcoming European Research Funding Programme, Horizon 2020, so that the SFI funding will enable our researchers to leverage further funding at EU level. Interestingly, the SFI research programme is very much aligned with the EU’s objective of focusing on innovation and the societal benefits of research.”
The announcement was warmly welcomed by Cork Chamber chief executive Conor Healy.
“This very welcome investment clearly positions Ireland as a global leader in scientific research and is testament to the calibre of science researchers available within this country,” said Mr Healy.
“The co-investment by industry represents an excellent initiative to strengthen collaboration and working partnerships between higher education institutes and industry.”
Mr Healy highlighted the place that Cork occupies as a leading location for research excellence.
“This accolade and the investment that it brings to the region’s scientific research industry is testament to the accomplishments and world-class expertise that UCC and the Tyndall Institute has nurtured and developed over time.”