Budgetary adjustments in grant allocations to Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Research Centres between 2019-2020 reflect a recognition of the importance in medical research in Ireland following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.
SFI Research Centres are designed to allow world-leading research to be conducted in key areas of strength and significant strategic opportunity for Ireland. The SFI Annual Capital Grants Budget for 2020 was €199 million, a €10.6 million increase on the 2019 Grant Budget.
The University of Limerick saw the most significant increase to their grants, their allocation going from €12.1 million in 2019 to €19.8 million in 2020. UCD’s three research centres saw an increase of €3 million, from €7.8 million to €10.6 million.
UCC’s Climate Change Centre’s allocation increased from €6.2 million to €7.6 million. Trinity’s Centres only saw moderate increases in funding, AMBER receiving a significant redistribution, likely caused by the influence of the pandemic.
SFI Research Centres are designed to attract collaborators, partners, and funding. They aim to promote Ireland as a hub of excellent research and innovation. Their funding allocation is determined by the Centre’s scientific progress, their public engagement and budget efficiency. The importance of the research’s impact on issues such as the environment, professional services, public policy and, particularly in 2020, health and wellbeing, are paramount in allocating funding.
In general, there has been an increase in funding nationwide to these centres, in particular those based in climate, bioengineering and pharmaceutical research. Oddly, in the age of Zoom, communications and digital media technology funding has been halved, though software research has seen increases. Should Level 5 restrictions remain for the greater part of 2021, we may see an increase in funding to these areas as Ireland remains dependent on those services to work, educate, research, and stay in touch with others.
Oisin Magfhogartaigh – Reporter