National Research Strategy Must Benefit All Elements of Society – IRC

Posted: 12 March, 2013

The new national strategy for research and innovation must reflect and benefit all elements of society.  That’s according to the Irish Research Council (IRC), which today (12.03.15) announced a partnership with The Wheel aimed at engaging community and voluntary organisations in academic research.

Under the partnership, the IRC is awarding almost €400,000 to support collaborative projects between community and voluntary groups and researchers.

Commenting today, Dr. Eucharia Meehan, Director of the IRC, said: “The Government is developing a new national strategy for research, and it is important that this promotes and reflects research across all disciplines and sectors.

“Research can add value to all of society, benefiting all sectors, whether enterprise, government or civic, and ultimately benefits all citizens. We also need to ensure high-quality research is helping socially excluded and marginalised groups and contributing to social innovation.

“The partnership between the Irish Research Council and The Wheel is a new departure for the research sector.  It provides a targeted research funding mechanism which includes community and voluntary groups. The research findings from these projects will not only benefit grassroots communities, and inspire the work of researchers, but will also inform national policymaking for civic society.”

Official Launch by Minister Jan O’Sullivan

The partnership between the Irish Research Council and The Wheel was officially launched by the Minister for Education and Skills, Jan O’Sullivan TD.

Commenting at today’s launch, Minister O’Sullivan said: “Effective engagement between higher education and the community and voluntary sector is a key objective of the National Strategy for Higher Education.

“This partnership between the Irish Research Council and The Wheel will facilitate researchers to exchange knowledge and spread their work beyond academia.  At the same time, it will allow community and voluntary groups to access leading research expertise and to collaborate on cutting-edge research projects.  Ultimately, this will increase awareness of the benefit of research on society, and on our quality of life. I look forward to seeing the outcomes of the projects funded under this initiative.”

Deirdre Garvey, Chief Executive Officer of The Wheel, also spoke at today’s launch. “Projects receiving funding under this initiative are focused on very topical and important issues, such as mental health, social housing and homelessness, direct provision, homophobic and transphobic bullying, healthy ageing and children’s rights,” she said.

“Typically, community and voluntary organisations work with limited resources and many do not have in-house capacity to conduct research.  At the same time, they are working at the coalface in tackling some of the most pressing societal issues.

“This partnership will allow researchers and community and voluntary groups to benefit from their respective areas of expertise.  It will also give researchers invaluable access to the grassroots networks and years of practice-based knowledge that has been developed in the community and voluntary sector.”

Under the new initiative, researchers from higher education institutions throughout Ireland are collaborating with community and voluntary organisations such as Trócaire, Pieta House, GLEN, the Immigrant Council of Ireland, Cystic Fibrosis Ireland and the ISPCA.

The ‘Engaging Civic Society’ initiative is a strand within the IRC’s New Foundations programme. The 2014 New Foundations scheme has awarded funding to 141 projects across 3 strands for a total of €911,759. The scheme supports researchers across all academic disciplines through the provision of support for research actions, the development of networks, and knowledge exchange activities designed to better communicate the outcomes and values of academic research in Ireland and beyond.