Science Foundation Ireland

CONNECT Centre to receive €39 million government investment

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Mr Simon Harris TD, has announced an investment of €193 million in five Science Foundation Ireland Research Centres for six years (2021-2026). CONNECT will receive almost €39 million of this funding. 

Minister Harris said: “I am delighted to announce this significant Government investment in five SFI Research Centres, which reflects Ireland’s position as a world leader in research and innovation.

“The investment will ensure that we are prepared for the changes and disruption that we are facing in addressing global societal and economic challenges.

“SFI Research Centres promote discovery and impact, as well as collaboration between academia, government and industry across the Island of Ireland and internationally.

“This support will further enhance the important work these Centres have already achieved, so they continue to play a pivotal role in the years ahead in protecting the wellbeing of the population and the economy.

“The five centres will also work to promote science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) to the wider public through extensive Education and Public Engagement outreach. These initiatives include summer computer camps, developing secondary school education modules, and residency programmes for filmmakers, artists and teachers to forge collaborations between researchers and the community. “

Prof Mark Ferguson, Director General Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland, said: “To maintain and build on Ireland’s global standing in research, innovation, and discovery, it is crucial that we invest in excellent ideas and research with impact. SFI Research Centres support both basic and applied research, spanning a wide range of sectors at varying levels and stages, and as a country we have benefited from their considerable contributions in the recent Covid-19 pandemic.

“They have made transformational progress in just six years, with increased academic and industrial collaboration, extensive training of PhD students for future skills needs, winning competitive funding from the EU, producing excellent scientific results and driving vital public engagement. We look forward to further strengthening our ability to positively impact our society and economy through excellent scientific research, with continued support from the Government and industry in the years ahead.”

Background to the SFI Research Centres

A key objective of SFI’s Agenda 2020 is to position Ireland as a global knowledge leader and develop a set of world-leading, large-scale Research Centres that will provide major economic impact for Ireland. The SFI Research Centres Programme was first launched in 2012 to achieve this objective. There are currently sixteen SFI Research Centres, established through a cumulative investment of €684 million from Government through SFI, and a further €466 million committed by industry. SFI Research Centres have also drawn down approximately €172.6 million in cumulative Horizon 2020 funding. The SFI Research Centres link scientists and engineers in partnerships across 812 research bodies across the globe. The Centres have signed 900 collaborative research agreements with 470 companies around the world (230 in Ireland) and attract industry which make important contributions to Ireland’s economy, and expand STEM educational and career opportunities.

After an extensive review of scientific excellence and impact, the ‘2013 Research Centres’ were established in 2015 as a result of the 2013 SFI Research Centres call. These five Research Centres (CONNECT, ADAPT, Lero, CÚRAM and iCRAG) first funding phase ran until December 2020.

Project Ireland 2040, the Government’s overarching policy initiative seeks to achieve ten strategic outcomes, building around the overarching themes of wellbeing, equality and opportunity. Building on the National Development Plan 2018-2027, and the National Planning Framework to 2040, the strategy articulates the Government’s mission to build and maintain a strong economy, supported by enterprise, innovation and skills, through initiatives such as the strengthening of SFI Research Centres and Enterprise Ireland Technology Centres. Specifically, the Government aims to support up to 20 SFI world-class Research Centres, collaborating with several hundred companies in all regions.

CONNECT is the world leading Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre for Future Networks and Communications. CONNECT is funded under the Science Foundation Ireland Research Centres Programme and is co-funded under the European Regional Development Fund. We engage with over 35 companies including large multinationals, SMEs and start-ups. CONNECT brings together world-class expertise from ten Irish academic institutes to create a one-stop-shop for telecommunications research, development and innovation.

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