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Science Foundation Ireland actions attract €130m in international and industry funding for Irish researchers in 2015

Science Foundation Ireland has today published its 2015 annual report which highlights the significant economic impact achieved from the €154 million investment by the agency across its research programmes.  This investment by Science Foundation Ireland to Irish researchers secured €130 million of competitive non-Exchequer funding, which includes €79 million of EU Horizon 2020 funding and €38 million of industry co-funding for research projects.  Also of particular importance was that Ireland, for the second year in a row, moved up the international rankings for the quality of its scientific research from 16th to 14th 

Commenting on the Report, Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Mary Mitchell O’Connor T.D, said: “This ranking demonstrates Ireland’s respected international position among the global science community and shows clear value and recognition of the research being funded.  It is vital for Ireland to continue on this upward trajectory in order for us to secure industry research investment, build strong international partnerships and attract research talent to Ireland.  I commend Science Foundation Ireland and their team’s work to bring Ireland to this point and I look forward to working with them to build further on these achievements.” 

Commenting on the publication of Science Foundation Ireland’s annual report, John Halligan TD, Minister of State for Training, Skills and Innovation, said: “Science Foundation Ireland’s annual report clearly demonstrates the significant and positive benefits that Government investment in excellent scientific research brings to Ireland’s economy and society.  Science Foundation Ireland also have a key role in promoting awareness and engagement with science amongst the Irish public. I am particularly pleased to see extensive public awareness and engagement programmes that took place nationwide in 2015 and look forward to seeing further initiatives in this area which will promote the value of STEM careers to future generations. I commend Science Foundation Ireland on their work to date, and look forward to seeing similar results into the year ahead as they focus on implementing the Government science and technology strategy – Innovation 2020.” 

Key highlights in 2015 included:

  • Ireland moved up to 14th in the international research rankings.
  • Science Foundation Ireland directly supported 1,220 collaborations with industry:711 with multinationals and 509 with small and medium enterprises.
  • There were 4,040 people working on Science Foundation Ireland supported research projects and more than 1,300 post graduate students supported by the organization.The investment by the agency directly and indirectly supports up to 28,000 high value jobs in Ireland.
  • Science Foundation Ireland researchers were engaged in 2,081 international academic collaborations in 62 countries.
  • Ireland now hosts 58 European Research Council (ERC) grantees (20 women and 38 men).
  • The Smart Futures industry career mentoring programme has now reached more than 92,000 secondary students.
  • Science Foundation Ireland continued its partnership with higher education institutions for targeted recruitment of leading researchers to Ireland.
  • Science Week celebrated its 20th birthday with eight regional science festivals across the country, 800 events, and reaching 250,000 people.
  • Science Foundation Ireland was awarded the Excellence Through People certification in December 2015 by the National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI) and      the NSAI Swift 3000 Certification for Corporate Governance.
  • Science Foundation Ireland continued their investment in 12 SFI Research Centres supporting important and emerging areas of the economy including applied geosciences, big data analytics, perinatal research, functional foods,      Internet of Things, pharma, marine and renewable energy, software and medical devices.


Science Foundation Ireland Chairman, Ann Riordan, said: “By every meaningful measure, 2015 was a year of significant accomplishment across all areas of Science Foundation Ireland’s activity.  Ireland moved up in the global research rankings; we had the best ever year for European Research Council awards and, on a broader EU level, we obtained more EU grant awards than ever before.  Creating an environment that helps to attract investment, create jobs and supports industry is at the centre of this organisation’s mission and the team here delivers on this year-on-year.  December 2015 saw the introduction of the Government’s science and technology strategy, Innovation 2020, and Science Foundation Ireland will expand its existing programmes and develop a number of new programmes and initiatives during 2016 and beyond to support this Strategy.” 

Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland, said: 2015 marked another excellent year for the organisation and our funded researchers.  In particular, I was extremely proud to see our international ranking jump a further two places; Irish researchers are competing at a global level and it is critical that we maintain our competitive edge by having skilled people as well as the right support and resources.  Economic and societal impact is what drives Science Foundation Ireland’s funding and all of our activity.  We are on target to deliver our ambitious plan for 2016, which includes launch of a new call for SFI Research Centres, the development of challenge-based funding and new initiatives to support early-career researchers including PhD students.” 

In 2016, Science Foundation Ireland will:

  • Develop a new PhD programme to enhance the quantity and quality of Irish PhD students. This is on the back of a decline of the number of PhD      graduates in STEM research in recent years which, if unaddressed, may lead      to a skills deficit in future years.
  • Develop  a challenge-based funding programme which addresses the growing appetite      for competitive funding mechanisms aimed at stimulating solutions-driven collaborations. 
  • Broaden engagement and collaboration with selected international research funding agencies and/or government departments to increase the number of  strategically relevant co-funding partnerships available to Irish researchers. 
  • Increase representation of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. 
  • Continue to increase engagement of the SME sector with the research eco-system.

 The Science Foundation Ireland 2015 Annual Report in full can be downloaded here: 


For further information, please contact:

Alva O’Cleirigh, Science Foundation Ireland, /+353 (0)1 607 3249 /087 9152553

Morwenna Rice, Drury Porter Novelli, / + 353 (0)1 260 5000 / 086 1940069 

About Science Foundation Ireland

Science Foundation Ireland funds oriented basic and applied research in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) which promotes and assists the development and competitiveness of industry, enterprise and employment in Ireland. The Foundation also promotes and supports the study of, education in and engagement with, STEM and promotes an awareness and understanding of the value of STEM to society and in particular to the growth of the economy. For more information, visit 

#ScienceRising supporting Innovation 2020 – a Science Foundation Ireland campaign that creates the connection for industry and individuals with science and innovation in Ireland. 

Science Rising – The Story

Ireland is a nation where curious minds live, learn and discover. Known as the land of famous writers, actors and musicians, Ireland is also home to esteemed inventors, explorers, scientists and leaders. Together we shape the future.  Science is part of our past, a past that is often overlooked, an immense part of our present and it is key to our success. There is endless potential still to be realised. The growing impact of Irish scientific achievement will make a difference in people’s lives, support industry investment, future proof our skill base and involve everyone in the potential of science and innovation. We will continue to question, imagine, collaborate, discover, answer and create. We will make a difference to Irish society and our economy.  More importantly, we will make a difference to humankind. See




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