Cork’s Batt O’Keeffe backs 600 jobs

Science body backs 600 research-industry links for ‘smart’ jobs – Minister O’Keeffe SFI marks decade of discovery, research and teamwork

The Government’s science agency, Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), backed more than 600 partnerships between research teams and firms last year in a move aimed at generating high-quality jobs, according to the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation, Batt O’Keeffe TD.

Minister O’Keeffe was marking SFI’s 10th anniversary at an event in the Aviva Stadium in Dublin which was attended by the Taoiseach, industry figures, scientific researchers and Government agencies.

Minister O’Keeffe described SFI’s journey as a ‘decade of discovery, pioneering research and teamwork involving brilliant minds from here and abroad who have conducted wide-ranging research on Irish soil’.

’What began as a burgeoning beacon of hope has blossomed to become the embodiment of excellence and innovation and a flag-bearer for Ireland in the 21st century.

‘Through SFI, the traditionally distinct arenas of academia and enterprise have converged and collaborated, converting ideas and processes into new products and services and, importantly, jobs,’ said Minister O’Keeffe.

At the end of last year, SFI-funded researchers were working with 389 firms.

Last year, the agency directly supported 3,225 researcher team members – up 15pc on 2008 – involving 601 collaborations with firms.

These collaborations are helping to continue to drive IDA Ireland’s profile shift towards research, development and innovation investments from less than 10pc five years ago to almost 50pc last year.

The Minister for Science, Technology and Innovation, Conor Lenihan TD, said science was now ‘fully integrated into the Government’s legislative and policy agenda’.

‘The notion that Ireland could be competing among the world’s most advanced scientific nations was merely an aspiration a decade ago.

‘Today, Ireland is recognised as among the leading research forces in immunology, nanotechnology and other areas with the strong help of Science Foundation Ireland.

‘SFI is playing a key role in getting people thinking and working smarter, generating new ideas and getting more for less right across the economy,’
said Minister Lenihan.

The director general of SFI, Professor Frank Gannon, said: ‘There is now an unprecedented momentum in innovation in this country exemplified by the excellent day-to-day research conducted in laboratories across Ireland’s higher education institutions.

‘The fact that there is now more engagement between SFI-funded researchers and the enterprise sector is a source of particular optimism for future commercial output.’

Over 190 attended SFI’s 10th anniversary event which included presentations by SFI-funded researchers and speeches by Professor Daniel Zajfman, President of the Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel, Peter O’Neill of IBM Ireland and Dr Ivan Coulter, chief executive of Sigmoid Coulter.

For examples of SFI achievements and full programme details see www.sfi.ie

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