Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) has earmarked €172m for its grant budget this year, an increase on the €156m that was allocated to projects during 2007, the agency said yesterday.
Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Micheal Martin, has also announced a €31.5m injection into the SFI Equipment Call that aims to accelerate research output from both SFI and non-SFI funded researchers through investment in additional resources and infrastructure in higher education institutions.
SFI has responsibility for directly investing more than €1.4bn in funds allocated by the government under the current National Development Plan and the Strategy for Science, Technology and Innovation programme. A total of €8.2bn has been allocated to science funding by the government under the two schemes.
Among the research schemes recently funded by SFI are a €1.7m joint project by Trinity College, Dublin, and Hewlett-Packard to develop nanotube composites that could be used to conduct electricity. Another project undertaken at NUI Maynooth investigated the causes of muscle wastage in the hopes of developing new treatments for elderly patients. The SFI said that 300 companies are currently involved in projects with researchers who have received grants from the agency.
Last week, the minister sought to bolster SME investment in research and development when he announced a simplification of the application process to access a €500m innovation fund established under the current National Development Plan.
The new application process will also make it easier for SMEs, third level institutions and multinationals to engage in collaborative projects.