€34m awarded to 1,400 researchers by the Irish Research Council last year

Posted: 21 July, 2016

The Irish Research Council awarded €33.7 million to 1,396 researchers last year. Details of the results of this investment are contained in the Council’s 2015 annual report, which was presented today (21.07.16) to the Minister of State for Training, Skills and Innovation, John Halligan TD.

The report was presented by Professor Jane Ohlmeyer, Chair of the Irish Research Council, and Dr Eucharia Meehan, Director of the Council.

Commenting on the report, Professor Ohlmeyer said: “Since the establishment of the first Research Council in 2000, we have funded almost 6,500 researchers. The researchers we are funding are powering the knowledge economy and cementing Ireland’s position as an innovation leader. 

“91% of researchers funded at postgraduate level have gone on to secure employment in expert roles, while 95% of those funded at postdoctoral level are also now in expert jobs. Our alumni work both within and outside academia, contributing important research skills and knowledge to the economy, society and culture.

“Last year was one of our busiest years to date, with a particular focus on further developing our partnerships with enterprise, civic society and government, and successfully securing EU funding.”

Annual Report Statistics

Key statistics highlighted in the Irish Research Council report include:

  • The Council provided just over €30m in research awards through Exchequer funding last year, as well as €3.5m of funding leveraged through non-Exchequer sources.
  • 1,147 of the researchers funded were at postgraduate level, with the remaining 249 conducting research at postdoctoral level.
  • Research projects with 81 enterprise/employment partners and 41 civic society groups were funded in 2015.

The Council’s activities contribute to considerable success at European level. For example:

  • 77% of European Research Council Starting grant awardees in Ireland under Horizon 2020 were previously supported by the Irish Research Council.
  • To date under the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme, the Council has supported the Irish Research Community to secure €80.6m of funding. European Commission data for 2014 shows that Ireland is the second most successful country per researcher in attracting Horizon 2020 funding.
  • The Irish Research Council itself has a 100% success rate in applications for funding under Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions, which provides grants for all stages of researchers’ careers and encourages transnational, inter-sectoral and interdisciplinary mobility.  To date, the Council has secured €17.7m through this fund.

At the launch of the annual report, Dr. Eucharia Meehan, Director of the Irish Research Council, outlined the organisation’s priorities for the coming years.

“Our work this year is focused on establishing a Frontiers Research programme, encompassing all disciplines and all career stages. Currently approximately 4% of national investment is contributed to basic frontiers research, compared to 17% in Europe and this new Frontiers Research programme is vital for Ireland in becoming an innovation leader,” she said.

“Another key priority for 2016 and beyond is to continue to increase engagement between researchers and employers, and to ensure that the mobility exists to allow researchers to move easily from academic roles to industrial ones.

“Finally, we will continue to work on enhancing public engagement with research, and showcasing the fantastic achievements of Irish researchers.  This year, we’re running the #LoveIrishResearch campaign, which is all about bringing research out into the public realm and making sure the amazing work being carried out by researchers based in Ireland gets the recognition it deserves.” 

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