News 2015

SFI Investigator Awards Programme

25 Apr 2015
Photo | Professor Anne-Marie Healy, TCD; Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland; Minister for Skills, Research and Innovation, Damien English TD; and Professor Richard O'Kennedy, DCU.

Minister for Skills, Research and Innovation, Damien English TD today announced over €30 million of research funding for 23 major research projects. The funding will be delivered by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation through the Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Investigators Programme.

The Programme will provide funding over a four to five year period, for 23 research projects involving over 100 researchers. Funding for each project will range from €500,000 to €2.3 million.

Minister for Skills, Research and Innovation, Damien English TD said, “This funding provides assistance to individual researchers to advance their investigations and address key research questions in sectors such as energy, medicine, food and nutrition, technology and agriculture. It allows researchers to further their careers and build partnerships with leading industry partners who also benefit from access to some of the leading academic talent on this island. The Investigators Programme is an important contributor to Ireland’s credentials as a research leader in a number of sectors.

The SFI Investigators Programme supports excellent scientific research that has the potential to impact Ireland’s society and economy. The 23 projects were selected by competitive peer review involving 400 international scientists after a call for proposals across a number of thematic areas of national and international importance. The awards include research in areas such as materials science, data management, medicine and pharmaceuticals, food and nutrition, agriculture and veterinary research and have links to 40 companies.

Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland added, “The SFI Investigators Programme provides important support to researchers in Ireland, creating employment opportunities and allowing them to leverage State funding to access additional funding streams, such as the EU’s Horizon 2020 Programme. Their research focuses on areas such as Alzheimer’s disease and cancer, animal breeding and disease prevention, ICT and data storage, as well as bioenergy among other topics. These are areas that will make a difference to both Ireland’s economy and society.  All of the successful projects have been peer reviewed by international experts to ensure scientific excellence and we have funded every project deemed to be of the highest standard internationally.”

Examples of projects supported:

  • Prof. Justin Holmes, Chemistry Department, University College Cork.

    Title: Silicon compatible, direct band-gap nanowire materials for beyond-CMOS devices.

    Increasing the number of transistors on a silicon chip enables the production of faster and smaller mobile and computing devices. However, current and prospective future mobile devices based on existing technology are energy inefficient due to high power consumption and the dissipation of a large amount of heat, leading to wasteful battery usage or the requirement for elaborate cooling systems. This project will develop new nanoscale materials for “energy efficient” electronic devices. Successful implementation of the materials developed in this project could lead to smarter and “greener” electronic gadgets.
  • Prof. Colm O'Dwyer, Chemistry Department, University College Cork.

    Title: Diffractive optics and photonic probes for efficient mouldable 3D printed battery skin materials for portable electronic devices.

    For modern portable electronics, long-life, safe and high performance Lithium-ion batteries are a necessity. We will develop new materials and coating methods for a Li-ion battery skin that can function when coated onto 3D printed structures. Also, a unique, non-destructive tool for monitoring the state of charge of the battery skin will also be developed. This will be a non-destructive method that gives the battery status by the colour of the material, and can also be used during research to optimize the performance of these new materials to for better performance with longer lifetime.

Under the SFI Investigators Programme, 23 research projects were funded through 14 research bodies, as follows: Dublin City University (2), Dublin Institute of Technology (1), Marine Institute (1), National University of Ireland Galway (3), Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland (1), Teagasc (1), Trinity College Dublin (5), University College Cork (2), University College Dublin (6) and University of Limerick (1).

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