Written answers

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation

Research Funding

Photo of James LawlessJames Lawless (Kildare North, Fianna Fail)
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22. To ask the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation when the next round of PRTLI funding will occur; if the PRTLI funding programme is not confirmed her plans to provide a successor programme of this type of essential funding for third level institutions; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [49612/17]

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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The Programme for Research in Third Level Institutions (PRTLI) has been an important funding programme in developing research capacity within the higher education system in Ireland. There have been five cycles of the PRTLI to date and approximately €1.2bn of public and private funding has been invested since the commencement of the programme in 1998. PRTLI has complemented other research funding programmes of Government, including €162m in funding provided by my Department through Science Foundation Ireland in 2017.

Our strategy for, research and development, Science and Technology (SFI) Innovation 2020, includes an action to scope out and develop a successor to PRTLI to support new investment in research infrastructure. It also contains an action to increase the enrolment of PhD and Research Master students. The creation of additional physical space for research and funding for structured programmes for postgraduate researchers are two key elements associated with previous cycles of PRTLI.

In the context of Budget 2018, I announced additional funding would be made available through my Department to address the need for a PhD and Research Master’s programme. This programme will fund 150 new enrolments in disciplines aligned to enterprise and national needs and is to be rolled out through SFI. Further details of the new programme will be provided by SFI in the coming months. I envisage that further additional funding will be provided in 2019 and subsequent years to continue growing this programme and to allow for new student intake in subsequent years.

In relation to research infrastructure, in the context of Budget 2018, the Minister for Education and Skills also announced a range of measures addressing physical infrastructure and human capital development in the higher education sector, including for research. This includes €21m for the Irish Research Council to increase the pipeline of researchers across all disciplines and €200 million for Public Private Partnerships, with a focus on physical capital needs across the Institute of Technology sector. It also includes an additional €257 million over the period 2018 to 2021 for higher education institutions to expand research capacity and upgrade campus infrastructure.

The funding announcements made by my Department and the Minister for Education and Skills in the context of Budget 2018 will allow the Government to continue making investments that will address objectives encompassed by previous cycles of PRTLI.

In addition, SFI also holds regular research infrastructure calls. The purpose of the SFI Research Infrastructure Call is to support the research community in building and sustaining the required infrastructural capacity to accomplish high quality, high impact and innovative research in areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics that demonstrably enhance and underpin enterprise competitiveness and societal development in Ireland.

In February 2017, SFI announced an investment of €47.4 million in 36 research infrastructure and facilities projects. The awards covered areas including Advanced Manufacturing, Drug Delivery; 3D Imaging; Nanotechnology; Future Networks; Big Data; Marine Renewable Energy; Food and the Environment; and Animal & Human Health.


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