Written answers

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation

Science Foundation Ireland Staff

Photo of Mary ButlerMary Butler (Waterford, Fianna Fail)
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323. To ask the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the criteria and qualifications required to sit on the Science Foundation Ireland oversight review panel; the make-up and format of the panel; the remit of the panel to consider the funding allocation 2019-2025; the reason for the necessity of an additional panel; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42170/18]

Photo of Heather HumphreysHeather Humphreys (Cavan-Monaghan, Fine Gael)
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The first seven of SFI’s Research Centres were established in 2013. SFI undertook a pre-planned international review process at the four-year stage of these centres. As part of this, the seven Research Centres were invited to submit proposals for probable future funding.

The review process involved three key stages: 

Firstly, a detailed written review was undertaken by different teams of international experts on the progress the individual SFI Research Centres had made and the proposals for future research outlined in the applications. 

Secondly, the same international reviewers conducted an on-site review, and subsequently wrote a report with recommendations and scores.

Thirdly, and following the above, a separate International Oversight Review Panel was put in place to consider the individual reviews from the first two stages. The remit of the Oversight Panel was to ensure: 

- Quality assurance;

- Fairness and consistency;

- Parity of practice across the seven Site Review Panels;

- Normalisation of the scoring;

- Ranking of the fundable applications.

This additional panel was put in place as a quality assurance measure, to ensure parity of practice across the seven Site Reviews.  This was important, as the on-site panels reviewing the various Research Centres were comprised of different reviewers. The Oversight Panel was also requested to make a recommendation to the SFI Executive and Board on whether each centre should either receive additional new term funding, should not be funded for a new term, or should progress to an open competition, to be reviewed against other potential centre applicants in 2020. 

Oversight Panel members of the highest calibre were selected. Each panel member was required to have strategic leadership roles within prestigious organisations such as national funding agencies and world leading universities.

The panel was made up of seven members, chaired by the Chancellor of a prestigious US university.  The remaining six members were leaders from a number of UK and US universities and funding agencies. The Chair of the Oversight Panel also attended the SFI Board meeting in June 2018 when the Board discussed the Research Centre funding recommendations.


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