Irish Marine Science Showcased at EU Conference

(left to right) Geoffrey O’Sullivan (Marine Institute, International Co-Operation/EU Desk), Dr Manuala Soares, Director, EU FP7 Environment (including Climate Change) Research Programme with the EU FP7 SALSEA-MERGE (salmon migration in the North Atlantic) Project PrincipaI Investigators Dr Ken Whelan (Marine Institute, Ireland) and Dr Emmanuel Babatunde (Institute of Marine Research, Bergen).“When marine territories are taken into account, over 50% of Europe can be said to lie underwater.”

This was the message from Ireland’s Marine Institute to delegates of the recent Czech-EU Presidency “Research Connections 2009” Conference in Prague on 7th – 8th May.   



Research Connections 2009 provided an opportunity to highlight Ireland’s research capabilities and forge international partnerships.   Ireland was represented at the Conference Exhibition by a stand entitled “Ireland: A land of Research, Innovation and Culture” which was hosted by the Irish FP7 Support Office (Enterprise Ireland).

The Irish stand, organised with the assistance of the Marine Institute, featured a number of EU FP7 projects which are led by Irish marine researchers. These included CORES(Ocean Renewable Energy Systems) led by Dr Tony Lewis, HMRC-UCC and CORALFISH(Interaction between deep sea corals, fish and fisheries) led by Dr Anthony Grehan (NUI-G). Other marine projects featured included SALSEA-MERGE – Salmon migration in the North Atlantic (Marine Institute); MyOCEAN - Operational Oceanography (Techworks Marine Ltd), SKEMA – Maritime Transport Logistics (Nautical Enterprise Centre, Cork) andEuroFLEETS – Co-ordinating the European Marine Research Fleet (Marine Institute).   

A dedicated brochure “Ireland: Excellence in Marine Research and Innovation”, which features information on Irish marine research capacity and describes the nine new  marine research projects established via various sources of NDP Funding which support Ireland’s national marine research plan “Sea Change - a Marine Knowledge, Research and Innovation Strategy for Ireland 2007 - 2013”, was distributed to visitors to the Irish stand.  

The key messages emerging from the Commission at the conference were that:  

  1. There is an opportunity and need to better align European research funding programmes establishing appropriate links between Structural Funds (including Cohesion and INTERREG), Framework 7 Research Funds and the Competitiveness and Innovation Programme (CIP) to facilitate the contribution of research to economic and social development.
  2. There are significant synergies to be developed between Research and its contribution to Regional Development.
  3. More money is spent on research, development and innovation from Structural Funds than from the dedicated EU 7th Research Framework Programme.  

All of which are consistent with the approach being adopted by the Sea Change strategy, which is to use Irish research investments to leverage additional funds from European programmes, with some success.  

During the period 2007-2008, Irish marine researchers have been awarded over €9m in competitive research funding through participation in 22 projects approved under the first two rounds of the 7th Framework Programme (FP7). The INTERREG-IV Programmes, meanwhile, have yielded a further €4.5m in competitive European Regional Development Funding (ERDF) for marine projects.  

Ireland leads three of the current suite of FP7 projects:

  • CORES - Ocean Renewable Energy Systems (Dr Tony Lewis, HMRC-UCC),
  • CORALFISH - Interaction between deepsea corals, fish and fisheries (Dr Anthony Grehan NUI-G) and
  • MABFUEL – Marine algae as biomass for biofuel (Julie Maguire, Dáithí O’Murchú Marine  Research Station Ltd.).

Successful FP7 projects with Irish participation fall into the following categories:

  • Environment (7 projects)
  • Maritime Transport (4 projects)
  • Energy (3 projects)
  • Fisheries/Aquaculture (3 projects)
  • Infrastructures (3 Projects)
  • Space (1 Projects)
  • SMEs (1 Project).

Preliminary indications are that a further 8 EU projects are in the pipeline, worth over €3.6 million in grant-aid. Thus, Ireland is well on course to meet its targets for international marine research funding as set down by the Sea Change Strategy and the Ireland’s overall Strategy for Science, Technology and Innovation (SSTI).      

The Commission estimated an attendance of circa 1,500 participants at the Research Connections Conference which was opened by Commissioner Janez Potočnik (DG Research) and Ondřej Liška (Czech Minister for Education).

The keynote speaker was an inspired Jeremy Rifkin President, Foundation on Economic Trends/ University of Pennsylvania (USA).  

For further information on Research Connections 2009 see:  

For full details on Sea Change see: