Ministers announce 39 COVID-19 research and innovation projects

Posted: 14 December, 2020

Ministers today announced details of new investment of €10.5 million in 39 COVID-19 research and innovation projects.  14 of the projects will be funded under an IRC-HRB partnership, with a focus on social and policy countermeasures to COVID-19. A further nine research projects will be undertaken as part of a collaborative all-Ireland research partnership supported by an additional £1.29 million from the Department for the Economy and the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs in Northern Ireland.

Commenting on the awards Simon Harris, TD, Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science said:

I’m delighted to announce this significant investment into furthering our understanding of COVID-19 and finding solutions to the challenges the pandemic has presented to our society and economy. As we move closer to commencing a vaccination programme, we need to understand that the virus has not gone away – supporting our expert researchers in our higher education institutions will help us to safely reopen our society.

“This latest research also includes nine all-island research projects, which is really exciting. COVID-19 does not know any borders. Working together across this island will help us in our fight.”

Welcoming the investment, Stephen Donnelly, TD, Minister for Health, said:

“Research has been a key part of our fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and we will continue to rely on research in the months ahead. This year, we have not just experienced a pandemic, we have also seen an infodemic. There has been an overload of often unreliable information. We have seen examples of this in relation to the use of vaccines and on unproven medicines. As we plan to introduce a COVID-19 vaccination programme, it is essential that we tackle things like misinformation. Many of these research projects will provide evidence to help us do that. I look forward to using the findings from this research for the benefit of Irish people, the health system and society.”

The research projects are part of a coordinated COVID-19 Rapid Response Research, Development and Innovation programme involving Irish Research Council, Health Research Board, and Science Foundation Ireland, who are additionally partnering with the Department for the Economy and the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs in Northern Ireland. A full list of the 39 projects can be found here.

Examples of the 14 research projects announced under the IRC-HRB partnership include:

  • Contact tracing for COVID-19: What can we learn from experiences of contact tracing in Ireland?
  • Inoculating against COVID-19 misinformation
  • Helping children adjust to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond
  • Assessing and protecting the mental health of the nation during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • How can we support family carers during COVID-19?

Director of the Irish Research Council, Peter Brown, commented:

“COVID-19 has presented us with enormous challenges, locally and globally, the effects of which will be felt for many years to come. There is much we still need to understand about the origins, effects and wider impacts of the virus, and researchers across many different disciplines in Ireland stand ready to take up this challenge and develop important insights and innovations. The Irish Research Council is delighted to be supporting a second round of awards under the IRC-Health Research Board COVID-19 Partnership.  The national response overall has dedicated significant resources to harnessing our research and innovation system to meet the challenge and emerge stronger.”

Commenting on the awards, Dr Mairéad O’Driscoll, Chief Executive at the Health Research Board said;

“COVID-19 has been a stark reminder of the importance of research to improve treatment, develop solutions to health problems and inform decision making. Many of these research projects address the long-term health and societal aspects of COVID-19 that will not be tackled with a vaccine alone, such as mental health or understanding patient risk factors. These long-term societal solutions are crucial as we continue to live with the virus and start to open society again.”

Research projects are led by higher education institutions and involve collaborations with a broad range of organisations including hospitals, Government agencies, representative bodies, and industry.

A full list of IRC-HRB approved projects is available below.

List of IRC-HRB funded projects

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