Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland Coláiste Ríoga na Máinleá in Éirinn

RCSI Welcomes announcement of €245 Million investment in Five New World-Class SFI Research Centres in Ireland

23 October 2014

5 RCSI researchers participate in new SFI Research Centre, CÚRAM Centre for Research in Medical Devices

• €155m in funding from the Department of Jobs through SFI will be provided for five World-Class SFI Research Centres
• €90m co-investment by industry partners, bringing the total investment to €245m
• Directly supporting 700 researcher positions
• Addresses research in critical and emerging areas of the economy including applied geosciences, software and medical devices
• Potential to receive further competitive research funding from industry and EU Horizon 2020

RCSI welcomed the announcement that five new world-class SFI Research Centres are to be established on the back of a €245 million funding windfall from government and industry. Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton TD, and Minister for Skills, Research and Innovation, Damien English TD, announced the funding on Oct 20th.

RCSI are partners in CÚRAM, Centre for Research in Medical Devices, led by colleagues in NUI Galway. The prime objective for CÚRAM is to radically improve health outcomes for patients by developing innovative medical devices to treat major unmet medical needs and includes a multidisciplinary team of researchers. The multidisciplinary and translational nature of the work supported by CÚRAM is exemplified by the RCSI's contribution to and participation in the Centre, led by Prof. Sally-Ann Cryan (School of Pharmacy) that includes four additional senior researchers from across Departments in RCSI; Prof. Fergal O'Brien & Dr. Garry Duffy (Dept of Anatomy), Prof. Gerry McElvaney (Dept of Medicine) and Prof. Marc Devocelle (Dept of Pharmaceutical & Medicinal Chemistry) who will work on a range of projects within the Centre. These projects will see CURAM linking with the existing SFI Centre, AMBER, through the RCSI Tissue Engineering Research Group and the Trinity Centre for Bioengineering.

CÚRAM will design and create implantable ‘smart' medical devices. Implants will be designed and manufactured to respond to the body's environment and to deliver therapeutic agents, such as drugs, exactly where needed. Cutting-edge science will inform device development, bringing the very latest research from biomaterials science, stem cell science and drug delivery to bear. Devices will be developed with strong clinical collaborations and with industry partners and hospital groups to enable rapid translation to the clinic.

CÚRAM's outputs will benefit in particular patients with chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and musculoskeletal diseases. As the global population ages, with one in three people expected to be over 65 by 2050, the financial burden for healthcare is expected to sky rocket. CÚRAM will position Ireland as the driver in developing medical device technologies which will provide affordable and transformative solutions for chronic diseases to meet this challenge.

Crucially, CÚRAM will also sustain and permanently strengthen Ireland's standing as a major global hub for the medical device sector research and development. CÚRAM will include almost 40 industry partners, including indigenous Irish companies and multi-nationals, and support product development and the creation of new spin-out companies.

The funding of €155 million from the Department of Jobs will be delivered through Science Foundation Ireland's (SFI) Research Centres Programme, coupled with €90 million in cash and in-kind contributions from industry partners. The funding will support cutting-edge research in critical and emerging sectors of the economy which are key for job creation in Ireland. The funding will be provided over the next six years, 2014-2020.

Speaking at the announcement, Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton TD, said, "A key part of the Government's Action Plan for Jobs is to build on the major achievements in scientific research we have built up over the past decade and turn more good ideas into good jobs. Today's announcement will lead to the establishment in Ireland of world-class centres of research excellence and scale which will be game-changers for Irish scientific research."

"The €245 million investment announced today, and the five new, large-scale, world-class research centres it will support, are aimed at achieving a step-change in the reputation and performance of Ireland's research system. This builds on the announcement of seven similar centres last year. With twelve world-class SFI Research Centres, Ireland is now well placed to take the lead developing cutting-edge research and new technologies, ultimately delivering more commercial ideas and jobs."

Minister for Skills, Research and Innovation, Damien English TD, added, "This investment delivers another milestone for this Government's Research Prioritisation objectives. These SFI Research Centres are ideally positioned to nurture real collaboration across industry and academia in Ireland which supports increased commercialisation of research and will ultimately grow jobs in the STEM sector. Importantly, these centres will also strongly position Irish based scientists to win funding through the EU Horizon 2020 funding programme, and will enable us to attract further investment from international companies in the future."

The new funding has been competitively awarded in areas of national importance closely aligned to industry and enterprise needs, job opportunities and societal goals. The five new SFI Research Centres are as follows:
• Adapt
• CONNECT Centre for Future Networks & Communications
• CÚRAM Centre for Research in Medical Devices
• iCRAG Centre for Research in Applied Geosciences
• LERO The Irish Software Research Centre

Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland, said, "These five new SFI Research Centres were selected following a highly competitive and rigorous international peer review process which screened for scientific excellence and assessed potential economic and societal impact. These five SFI Research Centres complement the seven we announced last year - which are already having a major positive impact: making important scientific advances, initiating and enhancing enterprise, training people with appropriate skills, winning EU projects and enhancing Ireland's international reputation. These SFI Research Centres combine scientific research with deep and significant enterprise engagement, excellence and impact. We are confident that they will make a significant contribution to Ireland's economy, employment and reputation."

As a result of the announcement there will be a total of twelve SFI Research Centres in Ireland. Today's investment marks the second tranche of funding under the SFI Research Centres Programme; last year €300 million (€200 from SFI and €100 from industry) in funding was announced for seven research centres, the largest ever combined Government and Industry co-funding collaboration of its kind in the research field in Ireland.