Minister Damien English wants researchers to think big

  • New Horizon 2020 Strategic Research Proposals Group established to identify large-scale funding opportunities for Ireland
  • “Big wins” over and above expected strong business as usual performance sought to help achieve most ambitious national target yet under EU Research Programme i.e. 1.25bn over seven years

“Minister for Skills, Research and Innovation, Mr. Damien English T.D., today launched a new initiative to identify large-scale EU funding opportunities for businesses and researchers in Ireland and nurture applications that will give big wins for Ireland. He has established a dedicated team of senior executives and officials from all research funding Government Departments and Agencies to focus exclusively on identifying opportunities and mobilising EU funding applications for large scale projects of strategic value to Ireland.

The new Strategic Research Proposals Group will be chaired by the Chief Scientific Advisor to the Government and SFI Director General, Professor Mark Ferguson. It will complement the ongoing work of Enterprise Ireland which coordinates the network of National Contact Points and National Delegates that have successfully mobilised the research system to surpass the FP7 (predecessor programme) target of €600m.

The €80bn EU Horizon 2020 programme, which commenced in 2014 and runs to the end of 2020, provides significant opportunities for Ireland’s economy and society and is open to researchers, research organisations, companies or other organisations through competitive calls.

This joined up approach is one of many proactive initiatives in the Department of Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation-led Horizon 2020 Strategy which will position Ireland favourably in order to achieve the ambitious national target of €1.25bn in EU funding.

Minister English said that

“the establishment of this group will provide for new and big opportunities for Irish companies and researchers. I want to ensure that the full resources of our research and innovation system, in which we have invested heavily, are now used for the optimum benefit of the country by leveraging maximum EU funding.

“Ireland’s participation in FP7, the predecessor to Horizon 2020, has been very successful, with over €620m secured by Irish researchers and industry. This is a great testament to the work of Enterprise Ireland and we need a continued outstanding performance from EI and the National Contacts and Delegates to ensure similar or better returns. The signs are good: research collaborations between Irish SMEs and Higher Education Institutions have secured over €9 million in the first results in the Marie Skłodowska Curie Actions part of Horizon 2020 which supports skills, training and career development of researchers. In addition Ireland had the highest success rate in Europe in the first results under the Horizon 2020 SME Instrument, with 20% of SMEs who applied being successful. However, to complement and support EI in its ongoing work, I have asked some key senior officials – including the Chief Executive of EI, Julie Sinnamon and CEO of the IDA, Martin Shanahan – to pool their knowledge of industry strengths and opportunities and to work with research funders to develop large scale proposals. “

Prof Mark Ferguson , Chair of the new Group, said that

“Ireland aims to win some major EU Horizon 2020 research projects .To achieve this, against strong competition , we need to identify key areas of opportunity , mobilise and engage all of the excellent research expertise across Ireland’s academic and industrial (multinational , indigenous and SME ) ecosystem to lead winning applications . By harnessing the expertise across all relevant Government Departments and Agencies we hope to identify and catalyse such winning bids. This is a major opportunity, especially as much of the funding is earmarked for industry.”



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  • The Department for Agriculture Food and the Marine
  • The Environmental Protection Agency Ireland
  • Health Research Board
  • Higher Education Authority
  • Irish Research Council
  •  Irish Universities Association
  • The Marine Institute
  • Science Foundation Ireland (SFI
  • The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland

Horizon 2020 national support network led by Enterprise Ireland