Irish Research Council announces 100 new awards to support research collaboration and dissemination

Posted: 6 May, 2020

The Irish Research Council has made awards to 100 researchers of all career stages across 13 higher education institutions. These awards, under the New Foundations 2019 scheme, are valued at nearly €800,000. 

New Foundations supports researchers to pursue research, networking and dissemination activities within and between all disciplines. It provides seed funding for small-scale research actions; the development of networks, consortia and workshops; and creative approaches to the communication of scientific concepts or complex societal challenges for a lay audience.

Director of the Irish Research Council, Peter Browncommented: “I am delighted to announce another round of awards under the New Foundations programme, a unique scheme that fosters the exchange of knowledge within and beyond academia. By supporting this collaboration, the benefits and impact of research are more widely shared, nationally and internationally. The emphasis on engaging with civil society fosters mutual learning between researchers and practitioners, often leading to longer-term collaborations.  

“The ongoing partnership between the Irish Research Council and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade under this programme is very welcome as it will enable researchers to form connections for future research projects that support enhanced cooperation between the global north and global south. We are delighted to continue to work in partnership with the Department.” 

The 2019 scheme comprises four strands:

Engaging civic society, in partnership with The Wheel and Dóchas, supports collaboration between researchers and a charity, community/voluntary organisation or NGO. 41 awards were made to researchers under this strand. Funded projects include:

  • A reminiscence-plus-walking intervention for older adults with Alzheimer’s Disease, partnering with the Alzheimer Society of Ireland (Dr Richard Roche, Maynooth University).
  • Investigations into interventions designed to enhance the relational capacity of parents and children and promote resilience, partnering with Young Ballymun (Dr Evelyn Gordon, Dublin City University).

Knowledge exchange for impact was designed to increase the impact of Irish research through knowledge exchange. 40 awards were made to researchers under this strand.

  • Funded researchers will gain access to world-class networks or facilities that will augment their research, such as the development of therapeutics which enhance the expression of Claudin-5, an  essential protein involved in maintaining brain homeostasis. Decreased levels of this protein have been experimentally associated with development of epileptic seizure, schizophrenia and mood disorders (Dr Yosuke Hashimoto, Trinity College Dublin).
  • The strand also supports further career development and increased international competitiveness, for example, by bringing together interdisciplinary international experts to investigate the connectedness of individuals, places, nations and markets, and how this is shaped by uneven development. This project aims to advance the next step in analysing and mapping disconnections that exist within social networks (Dr Joanna Hofer-Robinson, University College Cork).

The STEAM strand aims to bring science (including social science) and art, design and the humanities together to work on new ways of communicating scientific concepts and complex societal challenges for a lay audience. 13 awards were made under this strand. Projects receiving support include:

  • A public exhibition that will showcase the collaborative, trans-disciplinary work of a STEAM initiative with the Samburu tribe in northern Kenya, which will be used to communicate the impact of global warming to a wide audience (Dr Samantha Martin-McAuliffe, University College Dublin).
  • An event for the general public and an academic-led workshop exploring the compact disc (CD) from the perspective of sustainable music consumption practices, waste management and the preservation of audio-visual heritage by both libraries and ad-hoc cultural archives (Dr Eamonn Bell, Trinity College Dublin).

Finally, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) Networking and Collaboration Grants are funding a further 6 awards, providing researchers with an opportunity to carry out networking activities or to form consortia with partner countries. These awards include:

  • A project to develop partnerships between Irish and South African Universities of Technology in relation to Work Integrated Learning (WIL), with a view to developing effective WIL models and practices aimed at reducing unemployment (Dr Frances Finn, Waterford Institute of Technology).
  • In partnership with Hue University, Vietnam, a project which aims to build sustained cooperation through joint research and innovative solutions to global challenges: specifically, the UN Sustainable Development Goals (2) Zero Hunger and (3) Good Health and Well-Being (Professor Mary McNamara, Technological University Dublin).

Full List of awards

Full List of New Foundations Awards

Due to the challenges posed by COVID-19, New Foundations awardees have been granted an extended period in which to undertake their research (up to 31 December 2021).


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