New University of Limerick-led PhD in Foundations of Data Science launched

Minister for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O’Connor, seated, with Dr Ruth Freeman, SFI, Prof James Gleeson, UL and Director of CRT Foundations of Data Science, CEO Skillnet Paul Healy, Assoc Prof Claire Gormley, UCD, Co-Director of CRT, and Prof Ken Duffy, Maynooth University, Co-Director of CRT Picture: Andres Poveda

A new doctoral training programme in data science led by University of Limerick and a number of key industry partners has been launched.

The new industry and Government supported PhD programme in Foundations of Data Science was launched by the Minister of State at the Department of Education and Skills with special responsibility for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O Connor, T.D. at an event at the Royal Irish Academy on Dawson Street this Tuesday.

The programme is a large-scale collaborative initiative between Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), University of Limerick, Maynooth University, University College Dublin and industry partners coordinated by Skillnet Ireland and Technology Ireland ICT Skillnet.

A total of 27 PhD students will take their place at the new SFI €21m Centre for Research Training (CRT) in Foundations of Data Science this September.

The industry supported PhD programme will give students an in-depth training in the fundamental data-science skills necessary to adapt to the way data, and data-enabled technologies such as artificial intelligence, are transforming the economy.

It is part of the largest ever investment in data science research in Ireland and, speaking at the launch, Minister Mitchell O’Connor said the government was “committed to developing Ireland’s data science industry as a globally recognised centre of excellence and will continue to support programmes such as this within higher education while also supporting industry needs by creating exciting new opportunities for innovation across all sectors.

“This SFI Centre for Research Training will play a vital role in giving this idea due importance. The world of work is changing, and skills gained from Applied Mathematics, Statistics and Machine Learning are transferable across industries.

“It also brings into light that we need to maintain a constant focus on what skills are required for economic competitiveness. This programme is an example of the Government’s Future Jobs initiative in practice, helping to create a future-proofed workforce and prepare for tomorrow’s economy.”

The CRT was announced earlier this year with a total investment of €21 million by SFI, academia and industry, to support 139 PhD students to respond the rapidly-evolving needs of Ireland’s data science industry.

Professor James Gleeson, University of Limerick and Director of CRT in Foundations of Data Science, believes that future challenges will be addressed through the new initiative.


“This programme will produce graduates who will become Ireland’s future leaders, innovators, entrepreneurs and employers. Students will get a unique opportunity to work with some of the best researchers and innovative companies working in this area,” he explained.

“This programme displays the combined strengths of higher education and enterprise networks in the face of new challenges we all face in our quest to flourish as an economy. The participation of Skillnet Ireland, Irish industry and enterprise, will enable the SFI Centre for Research Training in Foundations of Data Science to create a future-proofed workforce.”

Dr Ruth Freeman, Director of Science for Society, Science Foundation Ireland, said investment in areas like data science was “important for our economy and society in Ireland.

“Data Science is already at the heart of many industries and will be critical for many more in the future, including to deliver efficient and effective public services.  I would like to congratulate the researchers in the Higher Education Institutions and companies that have come together to develop this outstanding programme of training and research, which also includes diverse transferable skills,” she added.

For more information on the programme, visit http://www.data-science.ie.