University College Cork (UCC) is in the top 2% of universities worldwide and is a globally-oriented, research-led institution
UCC prioritises research in areas that are significant at the highest international levels. This creates a significant impact and uptake in the community beyond the university. In particular, UCC’s research in food and health, photonics and perinatal medicine is recognised as world leading. Several of Ireland’s top research centres are based in UCC. These include the Tyndall National Institute (microsystems, photonics, nanotechnology) and the APC Microbiome Institute (alimentary health, functional foods), both recognised as global leaders. The Environmental Research Institute conducts research on climate action, a sustainable society and the circular economy.
UCC competitively secured research funding of over €96 million in 2016. This was a 21% increase over a five-year period and a historical high for the university. We have diversified our research funding sources, receiving €30.1 million in non-state income in 2016, a 52% increase. UCC’s strategy is to enable world-class research in major Centres of Excellence. In 2013, Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) announced the SFI Research Centres Programme, the largest joint state/industry research investment in Irish history. Of the twelve supported centres, UCC leads four, co-leads one and is a partner in six others. An SFI investment of almost €100 million was awarded to UCC.
We continue to secure above-average EU Horizon 2020 funding. As of August 2017, UCC had received €47.9 million under this programme. UCC continues to secure Ireland’s highest level of research funding per academic, according to the HEA. In 2015, UCC completed its second university-wide review of the quality of its research output and performance to internationally recognised standards. This exercise was notable for its scale, involving the recruitment of senior international peer experts: 15 panel chairs, 69 disciplinary vice chairs and 245 remote reviewers. 97% of the reviewers were international, with 49% of reviewers drawn from Russell Group universities. The research peer review evaluation scores show that the percentage of high-scoring units producing research of international quality increased by 13% between 2009 and 2015. Graduate education is an area of strength, achieving the highest unit scores and showing that over two-thirds of the units reviewed were competitive globally on this parameter.
Innovation and entrepreneurship remain a focus of staff and students. Since 2013, 11 high-potential start-up (HPSU) companies have been established as a result of UCC’s investment in research. This brings the total number of Gateway UCC companies to 40 and the total number of jobs to 240. Over 200 jobs have been created in graduate start-up companies through UCC’s IGNITE Graduate Business Innovation Programme since 2012. IGNITE’s innovative approach and outcomes were recognised by the European Commission at the European Enterprise Promotion Awards in 2016. In 2015, we established the Entrepreneur Ship, the world’s first business incubator for marine and energy companies. In 2016, the Blackstone LaunchPad was established. It provides students, staff and alumni with support for venture creation. Since 2016, an entrepreneurship module, ‘New Venture Creation’, is available to all students.
In 2013, UCC was conferred with the European Commission’s HR Excellence in Research Award accreditation. This reflects the progress made by the university in supporting researchers, including introducing structured PhD programmes and the University Employment and Career Management Structure for Researchers.
Over the period of the next institutional Strategic Plan (2017-2022), UCC will continue on its journey to be a leading university for research, discovery, innovation, entrepreneurship, commercialisation and societal impact. Strategies to achieve this goal will focus on enabling our staff to pursue excellence in research, teaching and learning. We will deliver a renewed and responsive research-led curriculum and strengthen UCC’s research excellence and impact. The institution will target strategic academic appointments that support the creation of the next generation of research leaders, and be a location of choice to attract and retain the most talented staff.