UL led SSPC receives funding boost for next six years

The team from the University of Limerick led SSPC at the funding announcement in Dublin

THE Government has announced €230m in funding for six Science Foundation Ireland centres, including the University of Limerick led SSPC.

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys TD, and Minister of State for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development, John Halligan TD, this Thursday announced an investment of €230 million in the six SFI Research Centres as part of Project Ireland 2040.

Industry partners are to contribute a further €230 million, bringing the total investment to €460m. The funding will directly support around 850 researchers in the various centres.

The announcement will fund 68 investigators and support over 100 PhD students at SSPC, the SFI Research Centre for Pharmaceuticals, led by UL and located at the Bernal Institute.
SSPC comprises a critical mass of accomplished researchers and an infrastructure that are second-to-none from a global perspective.

The Centre will create impact for Ireland in the pharmaceutical sector by creating economic growth through spin-out companies and patent licences with innovative pharmaceutical companies, enabling next generation medicines to reach the market more quickly and providing highly qualified scientists and engineers to support and grow the Irish pharmaceutical sector.

Under the directorship of Professor Michael Zaworotko and Professor Gavin Walker and building on its reputation as an exemplar of academia-industry collaboration, SSPC’s new iteration from 2019 to 2025 will see the centre grow further and expand its research programme.

The other SFI centres are AMBER, APC Microbiome Ireland, The Insight Centre for Data Analytics, IPIC and the MaREI Centre.

“This investment by my Department in the six SFI Research Centres is part of the Government’s strategy to prepare now for tomorrow’s world, through plans like Future Jobs Ireland and Project Ireland 2040,” said Minister Heather Humphreys.

“The work that has been done to date has positioned Ireland as a world leader in research, further strengthening our global credibility across a number of different sectors. The economic impact of this research is clear, not only through direct and in-direct employment levels, but also through increased foreign direct investment.

“Our Research Centres not only act as magnets to attract and retain investment; they also encourage companies, both Irish and foreign-owned, to develop their R&D activities here. This will continue to benefit Ireland and the world for years to come.”

The State investment is buoyed by industry support with 170 industry partners committing to investing over €230 million in cash and in-kind contributions over the next six years.

Under the new funding model, these six SFI Research Centres are successfully scaling up to secure 66% of the funding from other sources, so only 34% of their funding over the six years will now come from Science Foundation Ireland.

Minister of State for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development, John Halligan, said: “This is an extremely positive announcement, SFI Research Centres are a huge draw for high quality sustainable jobs both directly and indirectly. They are agents of change, providing new ways of thinking and offering alternative solutions to issues and challenges that we face in many sectors.

“This is one of the positive examples of Project Ireland 2040 which has been rolled out to ensure that, as a nation, we are prepared for the changes and disruption that we face going forward. With the current strong economic outlook, it is important that we look to the future and our investments in excellent research allow us to do exactly that,” he added.