Science Foundation hailed

A record €122m in funding was provided for world-class scientific and engineering research in third level institutions in Ireland in 2005, it emerged today.

The Government-backed Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) has committed a total of €520m to more than 780 projects since its inception in 2001.

Dr William Harris, director-general of SFI, said the body has achieved much in the short period since it was established.

“We aim to create a robust and sustainable research community in Ireland, capable of competing with the best in the world, and the recent assessment report indicates that we have set out in the right direction,” he said.

“We are building a lasting scientific research infrastructure, to attract and nurture a world-class scientific community in Ireland that will enable the country to compete and prosper globally to the highest levels.”

Some of the main initiatives launched in 2005 include:

:: The investment of more than €4m in five leading young ICT and biotechnology researchers;

:: A €16.5m award to the Biomedical Diagnostics Institute at Dublin City University;

:: A new SFI mathematics research initiative aimed at supporting mathematics research;

:: The launch of the Young Women in Engineering Scholarship.

Enterprise Minister Micheál Martin praised the work of the SFI.

“SFI has made excellent progress to date in what can be considered its formative years,” he said.

“It must now build on that success, ensure that relevant metrics are developed to assess the longer term impact of its investments, and it must continue to play a vital role in developing a research environment that will compete with the best in the world.”

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