A New Horizon in European Research for Irish Universities

An action plan for participation of the Irish universities in Horizon 2020 was launched today by Minister for Research and Innovation Mr Sean Sherlock T.D. as part of the national launch of the European Union’s new Horizon 2020 Programme.

Conor O’Carroll, Irish Universities Association, Sean Sherlock T.D., Minister for Research & Innovation, Marie Geoghegan-Quinn, EU Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science and Dr. Lokesh Joshi Chair of the IUA VP’s of Research Group

Conor O’Carroll, Irish Universities Association, Sean Sherlock T.D., Minister for Research & Innovation, Marie Geoghegan-Quinn, EU Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science and Dr. Lokesh Joshi Chair of the IUA VP’s of Research Group

The action plan entitled “Horizon 2020: Sustaining Excellence in University Research & Innovation” outlines the position of the universities on the Horizon 2020 proposals and sets out a series of recommendations and actions to enhance the performance of Irish universities, giving the sector the best chance of success in Horizon 2020. The Irish Universities, in partnership with the private sector, have been the most successful participants in FP7 and their involvement is essential for Ireland to reach its target of securing over €1 billion in funding from Horizon 2020.

Speaking at the launch Minister Sean Sherlock said, “I welcome the renewed commitment of the universities to maximise their participation in Horizon 2020 across all areas. At a time when national funding for research must be carefully invested, it is critical that the universities and all public research institutions gain maximum leverage from exchequer funds”.

Commenting on the Action Plan, Chair of the IUA VP’s of Research Group Dr Lokesh Joshi said. “This is the first time the universities have published an action plan for a framework programme and it shows our serious intent to achieve success in Horizon 2020. We look forward to working with the Horizon 2020 National Support Network, national funding agencies and government in this regard. The universities are also fully committed to the National Research Prioritisation plan and we will ensure that our research strengths across the full spectrum of disciplines are maintained.”

Produced by the universities through the Irish Universities Association (IUA), the document identifies a series of actions which the universities will undertake to enhance their performance in Horizon 2020 including:

  •  Maintaining and increasing research excellence across all disciplines by improving the universities’ performance in European Research Council Calls. This will attracting excellent researchers to relocate to Ireland, and target those with high potential already here;
  •  Strengthening partnerships with the private sector to maximise the returns from the three Pillars of Horizon 2020 and ensure the implementation of the National Research Prioritisation plan;
  •  Maximising commercialisation opportunities from Horizon 2020 projects – the new Central Technology Transfer Office led by Dr. Alison Campbell OBE will take a key role in this aspect;
  •  Developing targeted Horizon 2020 funding strategies for large-scale research centres including the new SFI Centres;
  • Ensure an all island report by promoting extensive collaboration with universities and companies in Northern Ireland working with InterTrade Ireland and InvestNI.

In their plan, the universities also identify actions that can be taken by Government Departments, Research Funding Agencies and the National Support System that will significantly improve performance in Horizon 2020. There are two in particular:

  • Structuring national funding calls to allow researchers to build capacity in the Horizon 2020 research areas, thereby leveraging their national funding with Horizon 2020 funding;
  • Strategically using European Structural and Investment Funds to increase the research system’s capacity to participate in Horizon 2020, with particular reference to investment in human capital and research infrastructure. The universities are keen to take advantage of opportunities to harness the synergies between Horizon 2020 and Structural Funds, as foreseen by the Commission.

The Irish Research Council (IRC) sponsored Marie Curie Office at the Irish Universities Association will play a strong role in this Horizon 2020 National Support Network.  The Marie Curie National Contact Point and National Delegate are keen to build on Irish success in the FP7 Marie Curie Actions, which has been Ireland’s 2nd largest FP7 income stream with €83 million secured to the end of July this year.

The EURAXESS Ireland Office at the Irish Universities Association funded by the Department of Jobs Enterprise and Innovation will play a complementary role, assisting researchers to relocate to Ireland including finding job and funding opportunities, and help with immigration.


For More Information contact:

Dr Jennifer Brennan, Marie Curie National Contact Point based at the Irish Universities Association.
Tel: 01 6764948. Email: jennifer.brennan@iua.ie

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