R&D investment central theme at UL President’s Dinner as PhD scholarship fund launched

A record number of almost 300 philanthropic and business leaders attended the 12th annual President’s Gala Dinner organised by the University of Limerick Foundation and held for the first time in a marquee on the lawns of the University campus overlooking the river Shannon. A fully-funded PhD scholarship programme to support excellence research with impact was announced on the night with proceeds from the event to support the initiative. The UL Research Impact PhD Scholarship programme has been established to nurture the next generation of researchers whose work will have benefits for industry, society, economy, culture and the world at large. Johnson & Johnson have pledged to support four scholarships through the fund.

Speaking at the UL Foundation benefit, UL President Professor Don Barry said: “PhD students carry with them their whole lives an ability and hunger for research. They are among the future R&D innovators and leaders who will contribute to our national competitiveness, social and cultural development and economic growth. The UL Research Impact PhD Scholarship programme aims to establish a highly competitive and prestigious PhD scholarship built on the foundations of excellence and impact. This fund will support our best and brightest to succeed in working on critical problems in collaboration with our industry partners. By focusing on PhD research with impact we aim to continue delivering research which will push the boundaries of human knowledge, address major societal challenges and nurture Ireland’s future R&D leaders.”

With a gift pledge in excess of €300,000 to fund 4 UL Research Impact PhD Scholarships, Limerick based company, Johnson & Johnson, has just been announced as the first supporters of the initiative ahead of its official roll-out.  Each Scholarship will be valued at €20,000 per annum for a period of up to 4 years study. Barry O’Sullivan, General Manager, Johnson & Johnson Vision Care Ireland said; “Building on our long-standing partnership with the University of Limerick, Johnson and Johnson are delighted to support in development of future R&D leaders through the Research Impact PhD Scholarship programme. Energetic and delivering committed collaboration between industry-academia-local government is fast becoming the hallmark of the R&D community in the mid-west region and we look forward to continued success in this area.”

Dr Mary Shire, Vice President Research said; “Across our campus, we have researchers collaborating with partners to tackle problems that are relevant to industry, social, culture and the world at large. Their work is collaborative, highly impactful and drives the world forward. We are delighted to build on our collaboration with J&J Ireland through the establishment of the J&J Ireland Development Centre (IDC) here on campus as part of the UL Enterprise Corridor. Their investment in PhD research through the scholarship programme supports the next generation of researchers which will form the bedrock of R&D success in our region.”


Speaking at the event, UL Foundation CEO, David Cronin said: “We are delighted that Johnson & Johnson have pledged  such strong financial support to this exciting initiative and look forward to working with other industry partners who are interested in supporting excellence and impact in research”.

Guests were treated to a special comedy sketch on the evening by impressionist and entertainer, Mario Rosenstock, as well as a musical performance by Donal Lunny, Mairtin O’Connor and Zoe Conway.  Main sponsors of the event again this year were Ulster Bank and Noonan Group.