The EU Director General for Research, Mr José Manuel Silva Rodríguez, visited the Marine Institute Headquarters in Galway today (Monday 7th September 2009) to promote the launch of the 4th set of calls for proposals for the EU’s €50 billion competitive 7th Framework Research Programme (FP7).
Mr José Manuel Silva Rodríguez emphasised Ireland’s need to build on the strong research networks that exist in Europe maintaining high standards in basic research. He said “there is a need to focus in particular on applied research as a means to advance economic recovery and the expectations that exist for the development of new products and services.” He further commented, “outputs are the key and we need to work closely with industry to ensure that innovation mechanisms and opportunities are fully exploited. Ireland has been at the forefront of articulating and promoting a strong innovation agenda in the marine sector.”
Dr Peter Heffernan, Chief Executive of the Marine Institute, presenting the Director General with a special report detailing Irish marine research awards in 2007 - 2008 under FP7 welcomed the Ocean of Tomorrow call stating, “this new cross cutting marine theme in FP7 presents a great opportunity to mobilise a multidisciplinary approach across Europe to address key economic opportunities and major societal challenges.”
Congratulating the Irish marine science community in its achievement of doubling its research funding under the highly competitive EU-wide FP7 programme for 2007- 2008, Dr. Heffernan said, “further grant awards pending in 2009 will increase Irish marine research awards to over €11 Million which already surpasses the total earnings in the entire FP6 (2000-2006)”.
During his visit to the Marine Institute HQ, Director-General Rodríguez was briefed on the synergies between opportunities under FP7 and the national priorities in marine research under the Sea Change Strategy (2007-2013) including renewable ocean energy; use of novel marine materials in drugs, industrial materials and food ingredients; functional foods; and advanced marine technology applications and a major national flagship project called SmartBay which aims to establish Galway Bay as a research, test and demonstration platform for new technologies; climate change impacts and environmental stewardship and sustainable marine food production.
“Ireland has a number of new and exciting socio-economic opportunities in the niche areas of the marine sphere and a strong innovation capacity will be absolutely critical to achieving these,” concluded Dr Heffernan.
Opportunities presented in the recently launched €34 million Initiative The Ocean of Tomorrow includes a collaborative research focus on:
- Climate Change Impacts on Economic Sectors in the Arctic
- Drivers of Change in Marine Life and their impact on Economic Sectors
- The Sub-sea storage of carbon and its potential impact on the marine environment
The report “Irish participation in EU FP7 funded competitive marine research projects (2007-2008)” details Irish participation in 22 collaborative FP7 projects worth over €163 million and providing over €8.8 million in grant-aid to Irish researchers. In 2009, Irish researchers have been successful in a further 9 collaborative projects worth over €30 million and providing an additional €2.7 million in grant-aid to Irish researchers.