Minister Halligan welcomes investment of €4.8 million in research addressing societal challenges

Posted: 26 March, 2019

Minister of State for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development, John Halligan TD, has today welcomed the details of research projects receiving funding under the Collaborative Alliances for Societal Challenges (COALESCE) research fund on behalf of the Irish Research Council.


Congratulating the successful research projects, Minister Halligan said: “Quality research is crucial for social development. Innovation 2020, Ireland’s five-year strategy for research and development, emphasises the importance of promoting research on national and global social issues and its contribution to evidence-based public policy and public service delivery.


“I, along with my colleagues in other Government departments, will be very interested in the findings from COALESCE, as they address current pressing societal issues, such as youth justice, digital literacy and housing. This research has the potential to make a significant contribution to public policy in Ireland and further afield.”


Research projects exploring youth justice, digital literacy, and housing were amongst 26 successful projects that received funding from a €4.8 million research fund to address key national and global societal issues.


Ireland faces key social, environmental and economic challenges, many shared with other nations in Europe and globally. The various challenges we share as nations are articulated in the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development, which incorporates 17 goals.


Ireland has recently integrated a cross-governmental challenge-based approach, with the publication of the National Planning Framework (Ireland 2040) and the associated National Development Plan. The framework sets out ten National Strategic Outcomes, the achievement of which are necessary to ensure prosperity, equality, a sustainable future and protection of our natural environment.


As stated in the framework, there is strong alignment between the National Strategic Outcomes and the Sustainable Development Goals; there is also a strong relationship between the National Strategic Outcomes and Horizon 2020 societal challenges.


The research fund is run in partnership with seven Government departments and agencies, including the Central Statistics Office; the Irish Human Rights Equality Commission; the Health Service Executive Sexual Health and Crisis Pregnancy Programme; the Department of Children and Youth Affairs; Geological Survey Ireland; the National Parks and Wildlife Service, and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.


Peter Brown, Director of the Irish Research Council said: “The Council is unique in that it funds research across all disciplines and supporting research that addresses major societal challenges is a key priority for us. We are very aware that investment in this area is vital in finding innovative and strategic ways to tackle major issues in society.


“We are delighted to have partnered with so many Government departments and partners to deliver the COALESCE programme. The Council will be seeking funding to expand the programme in the years ahead, by seeking to collaborate with additional Government departments and other agencies.


“Since 2012, the Irish Research Council has invested €4.7 million in research projects focused on societal issues. COALESCE builds on and brings together two former funding programmes; Research for Policy and Society and the New Horizons Interdisciplinary Research Awards. The projects announced today bring the Council’s and our partners’ total investment in research focused on societal issues to €9.5 million.”


The call for COALESCE 2019 will issue soon, with Strategic Funding Partners from the 2018 call – including the HSE Sexual Health and Crisis Pregnancy Programme; the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade; the Department of Children and Youth Affairs; and the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission – taking part alongside a new partnership with Met Eireann.


Further details about the COALESCE call are available here.