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Science projects get €30m investment pot

A TOTAL of 37 scientific projects around the country will share a €30m investment pot aimed at turning "good ideas into good jobs".

Funding is to be given to purchase an "aberration corrected electron microscope" for Trinity College Dublin – the only one of its kind in the country – that will allow researchers to magnify images 10 million times and study materials within atoms.

In Galway Bay, the investment will fund the construction of a marine energy testing site to help in the study of renewable energy from the ocean, while at University College Cork, a germ free facility will be built for research in food and life sciences.

Announcing the funding, Jobs Minister Richard Bruton said the investment in cutting-edge equipment is vital to ensure the facilities in Ireland's research institutions are on par with the best internationally.

"Central to the Government's plans for jobs and growth is ensuring that we get more, as an economy, out of our investment in scientific research over the past decade.

"We must ensure that more of our investment is targeted at commercial outcomes and ultimately at turning good ideas into good jobs," he added.

Mr Bruton also launched an eight-year plan by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), Agenda 2020, which aims to make SFI the world's leading science funding agency by 2020.

Other targets included in the plan are to attract a top-tier international prize-winning scientist to lead an SFI-funded team in Ireland by 2015 and for an SFI researcher or team to scoop a major international prize within the next seven years. It also wants to double the number of patents, invention disclosures, licences and "spin-outs" that are linked to scientific research.

"This is a highly ambitious strategy for the next eight years which aims to develop, in Ireland, the best science funding agency in the world in terms of commercial outcomes and value for money," said Mr Bruton.

"This is precisely the kind of ambition we have to set ourselves across the public service if we are to drive the rebuilding of the economy and the creation of the jobs we need," he added.

Irish Independent