Research Informed

Research Informed

UCC is ranked in the top 2% of the World University Rankings and was Ireland's first Five Star University (QS Stars).
Our research strategy is focused on creating major centres of excellence for world-class research. As well as this, a high proportion of the research activity is undertaken within the Departments and Schools of the University. UCC is also one of the best-funded research universities in Ireland - almost €80 million in 2011/2012. Non-exchequer funding accounted for 25% of research income.

>>UCC Strategic Plan for Research and Innovation 2013-2017<<

UCC's research priorities are aligned to those areas identified as of national and international strategic importance and priority. They are grouped under the following five strategic thematic areas:


  • Biological and Medical Sciences (including Food and Health)
  • Environmental, Atmospheric and Ocean Sciences (including Energy)
  • Physical Sciences, Engineering and Mathematical Sciences (including ICT)
  • Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
  • Business and Law

These five strategic thematic areas that form the basis of UCC’s strategic research focus map to both the identified priority areas for exchequer investment in science, technology and innovation and the focus of future European investment. Horizon 2020, the €70 billion European investment in research and innovation, aims to improve Europe’s global competitiveness by providing an integrated programme of activities that better complement and coordinate national activities. Horizon 2020 has four main areas of focus: excellent science, developing industrial leadership, boosting competitiveness and addressing the societal grand challenges of:

• Health, demographic change and wellbeing
• Food security and the bio-based economy
• Secure, clean and efficient energy
• Smart, green and integrated transport
• Supply of raw materials, resource efficiency
  and climate action
• Inclusive, innovative and reflective societies.

In particular, UCC is developing a number of key areas of emerging research expertise including the establishment of the Beaufort Laboratory on the IMERC Campus as the largest marine renewable energy research facility in the World. It is also proposed to establish the Institute for Food Research and Innovation (IFRI)  to consolidate the research activities of Departments, Schools and Research Centres involved in food research.

Major research institutes within UCC include:
Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre (APC)
Biosciences Institute
Tyndall National Institute (TNI)
Environmental Research Institute (ERI)
Institute for Social Sciences in the 21st Century (ISS21)

See here for a full list of UCC Research Institutes and Centres

UCC's research priorities are grouped under five strategic areas, as described in the University Strategic Plan. These areas are supported by the main Research Institutes as well as by the Departments, Schools and Centres.

Thematic areas and Research Priorities are listed below and those which directly relate to the UCC Green Campus agenda are highlighted:

    Biological and Medical Sciences
        Gut Health
        Epidemiology & Public Heath
        Women & Child Health
        Vascular Biology
        Biomedical Devices
        Cell Biology & Cell Signalling
        Environmental Microbial Genomics

    Earth, Atmospheric and Ocean Sciences (including Energy)
        Ocean Energy
        Sustainable Energy
        Solar Cells
        Biodiversity, Ecotoxicology & Sustainability
        Environmental Chemistry
        Marine Science

    Physical Sciences, Engineering and Mathematics (including ICT)
        Nanoscience & Technology (Nanoelectronics)
        Microsystems for Energy, Health and the Environment
        Photonics (and Electronic Systems for Communications, Healthcare, Energy, and the Environment)
        Embedded Systems (including Circuit Design)
        High Performance Computing
        Artificial Intelligence
        Smart Buildings

    Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

        New Poverties, Human Rights, and Social Justice*
        Digital Cultures
        Beyond Identities
        Creative Educations
        Environmental Citizenship, Ecological Politics and Global Justice*

    Business and Law

        Financial Services and Financial Mathematics
        Globalization, Regulation & Competitiveness, Governance & Accountability
        New Poverties, Human Rights, and Social Justice*
        Environmental Citizenship, Ecological Politics and Global Justice*
        e-Health, Connected Health

* Research priority that crosses 2 thematic areas


For more information, see the Research Support Services webpages.

Environmental research at UCC is conducted across a range of research institutes and centres as well as within individual Schools and Departments.


Environmental Research Institute (ERI)

The Environmental Research Institute (ERI) constitutes an important part of UCC’s strategy to develop inter-disciplinary research institutes that have a critical mass of world-class researchers in prioritised research areas. The ERI was established in 2000 under the Higher Education Authority PRTLI programme to bring together expertise in the biological, chemical and environmental sciences as well as environmental engineering, energy and environmental law. The Institute is the focal point for research excellence in the environmental, marine and energy fields in UCC and makes a significant contribution to the inter-disciplinary research goals of University College Cork through the expertise of its Principal Investigators drawn from 10 schools/faculties/departments and four research centres.

The integration of environmental research at the ERI has enabled UCC to adopt a more strategic approach to environmental research, develop an interdisciplinary research environment, create economies of scale and improve research funding acquisition. The Institute currently has over 200 researchers, publishes approximately 130 peer-reviewed publications annually and has secured €37 M in recurrent income between 2006-2010.

ERI Research Schematic

Figure: Schematic representation of ERI research pillars and thematic areas (ERI Strategic Plan 2012-2016)


Biosciences Institute

Biosciences Institute is the research arm of the School of Life Sciences (Anatomy; Biochemistry; Microbiology; Physiology; and Pharmacology and Therapeutics) in University College Cork. Life science research is a central pillar of the national agenda for science and technology (SSTI). In UCC, life sciences research is a flagship for the University’s international standing, and it accounts for a major portion of the high impact research output, research income, and PhD student training.
By its nature, life science research is integrated with all other research areas in the biological, clinical, physical, chemical and mathematical sciences. It requires a broad range of scientific and technological expertise, and is also the lynchpin for enabling research activity in diverse disciplines to be applied for the benefit of mankind in areas such as health and the environment.
Built in 2002, the current Biosciences Institute is funded under the Programme for Research in Third Level Institutions (PRTLI), administered by the Higher Education Authority (HEA). A number of research groups from several departments in the biomedical and life sciences disciplines are located in the Institute.  The Biosciences Institute covers a total area of over approximately 6,000 sq metres that is physically linked with the adjacent Science/Food Science Building and the Cavanagh Building that houses the School of Pharmacy and the Analytical and Biological Chemistry Research Facility.

The Biosciences Institute incorporates the BIOMERIT Research Centre (BRC) whos mission is to Maximise Education and Research in Innovative Biotechnology. The centre was established to promote, co-ordinate and develop key biotechnology research activities in the thematic area of Environment and Health by targeting strategic research funding to sustain and develop research in this area.Basic and translational research is carried out in the centre and utilises a systems microbiology approach to drive research and technology transfer around three core programmes. (1) Microbial-Host Interactions, (2) Functional Genomics and Signalling in Gram-negative bacteria and (3) Environmental & Marine Biotechnology.


Beaufort Research

As a vital source of electricity and employment over the next decade, the promise of marine renewable ‌energy cannot be overstated. Beaufort Research combines the excellent track record of the Hydraulics and Maritime Research Centre (HMRC), the Coastal and Marine Research Centre (CMRC) and the Sustainable Energy Research Group (SERG) at UCC in this field. Beaufort's new keystone research facility within the Irish Maritime and Energy Resource Cluster (IMERC) at Ringaskiddy, Cork will house these leading research centres. This represents UCC’s on-going commitment to the development of IMERC.
Areas of expertise at Beaufort span across Wave & Tidal Energy, Coastal Dynamics, Wind Energy, ICT Solutions, Maritime Governance, Marine Ecology, Power Systems, Wind Energy and Energy for Industry. The new Beaufort Building will house the National Ocean Test Facility, incubation suites for industry, offices and associated laboratories and workshops for multi-disciplinary researchers.

Impression of the new Beaufort Research laboratory at the IMERC campus, Ringasskiddy.

Figure:‌ Impression of the new 4,500 square metre Beaufort Research facility at the IMERC campus, Ringaskiddy, Co. Cork. The facility incorporates the National Ocean Test Facility (NOTF).

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