NUI Galway and UCC researchers win Science Foundation Ireland-Marine Institute funding

Dr. Ciaran Kelly, Dr. Louise Allcock, Dr. Philip McGinnity, Prof. Mark Ferguson and Mark Johnson Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Mary Mitchell-O'Connor TD today announced nearly €40 million in research funding for 24 major research projects. The funding is distributed via Science Foundation Ireland's Investigators Programme through a funding stream provided by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation. With awards ranging from €500,000 to €2.7 million over four to five year periods, projects funded by the Investigators Programme will support over 200 researchers.

To drive national success in Horizon 2020, the SFI Investigators Programme involved the collaborative participation of a number of Government Departments and funding agencies. The investment will support world-class research in key priority areas for Ireland, with co-funding for seven of the projects provided by the Department for the Economy, Northern Ireland (DfE), the Geological Survey of Ireland (GSI), the Marine Institute (MI), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The Marine Institute is co-funding two key research projects as part of the SFI Investigators Programme. Dr Louise Allcock, National University of Ireland Galway has been awarded €1,940,000 to investigate deep sea corals and sponges to identify novel natural products in Ireland's offshore waters and increase knowledge of their economic value and distribution. Dr Allcock also aims to produce predictive maps of biodiscovery potential to maximize the economic impact of future biodiscovery work.

Dr Philip McGinnity, University College Cork, has been awarded €1,709,500 to investigate interactions between wild and farmed salmon, and aims to develop a predictive methodology to inform environmental best practice to secure long-term sustainability of global wild and farm fish populations.

Announcing 24 major research projects, Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Mary Mitchell O'Connor TD said, "This funding provides an important platform for researchers to advance their investigations and further enhance Ireland's reputation for excellence in sectors such as health, agriculture, marine, energy and technology. Engaging with 39 companies, the programme offers researchers the opportunity to develop their careers, as well as providing industry collaborators with access to the wealth of outstanding expertise and infrastructure found throughout the island. The alignment of the Investigators Programme with Horizon 2020, the European Union's research funding programme, will lead to further successes in leveraging EU resources and increasing international collaboration. The projects within this programme clearly demonstrate excellent and impactful research which is a key goal of the Government's science and innovation strategy – Innovation 2020."

Dr. Ciaran Kelly, Marine Research and Development Manager at the Marine Institute said, "We're delighted to partner with Science Foundation Ireland to co-fund this important research to build capacity in key areas such as deep sea biodiscovery, and aquaculture and genetics. These research projects will help to maximize the benefits of our ocean resources to society, while ensuring the long-term sustainability of these activities."

Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland added, "The Science Foundation Ireland Investigators Programme supports the highest standard of impactful research, as clearly demonstrated by the outcomes of previous awards. I have high expectations for these projects; all have undergone rigorous peer review by international experts and we have funded only those projects deemed to be at the pinnacle of scientific excellence. As well as providing an important platform for engagement in Horizon 2020, the programme also creates training and employment opportunities, promotes industrial collaboration and drives advances in energy, agriculture, science, technology and health which will benefit Ireland's economy and society."

The 24 research projects funded are in a range of strategically important sectors. A further ten projects were also deemed scientifically excellent and impactful by the International Review Panel and are on a reserve list to be funded, if budgets permit later in the year.

Under the Science Foundation Ireland Investigators Programme, 24 research projects were funded through eight research bodies, as follows: Dublin City University (1), Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies (1), National University of Ireland Galway (3), National University of Ireland Maynooth (1), Trinity College Dublin (6), Tyndall National institute (4), University College Cork (1), University College Dublin (7).

Projects supported under the partnership in Northern Ireland will be announced at a later date and are marked with an *.


For further information, please contact:

Marine Institute
Lisa Fitzpatrick
091 387390/ 0872250871

Science Foundation Ireland
Niamh Bradley or Alva O'Cleirigh
01-6073228/086-0271744 or 01 607 3249/087-9152553 or

About the Science Foundation Ireland Investigators Programme:

The SFI Investigators Programme supports the development of world-class research capability and human capital in areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) that demonstrably support and underpin enterprise competitiveness and societal development in Ireland. To this end, the Investigators Programme funds outstanding people with innovative ideas and strategic partnerships, recognising that excellence is a paramount criterion. The call for applications for the 2016 Investigators Programme is currently open and involves the participation of a number of Government Departments and funding agencies. Co-funding Partners include Teagasc, the Geological Survey of Ireland (GSI), the Marine Institute (MI) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Full details can be found at

About the Marine Institute:

The Marine Institute is the national agency for marine research, technology, development and innovation. We seek to assess and realise the economic potential of Ireland's marine resource, promote sustainable development of marine industry through strategic funding programmes and essential scientific services, as well as safeguard Ireland's natural marine resource through research and environmental monitoring.

Ireland has a marine area of approx 880,000 km² under the sea, which is over ten times its land area which represents an enormous seabed and aquatic resource. The Marine Institute promotes the sustainable development of this vast marine resource through research, the application of new technologies and by providing credible science-based advice to industry, the Government and the EU.

About Science Foundation Ireland:

Science Foundation Ireland funds oriented basic and applied research in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) which promotes and assists the development and competitiveness of industry, enterprise and employment in Ireland. The Foundation also promotes and supports the study of, education in and engagement with, STEM and promotes an awareness and understanding of the value of STEM to society and in particular to the growth of the economy. See

#ScienceRising supporting Innovation 2020 – a Science Foundation Ireland campaign that creates the connection for industry and individuals with science and innovation in Ireland.

Science Rising – The Story:

Ireland is a nation where curious minds live, learn and discover. Known as the land of famous writers, actors and musicians, Ireland is also home to esteemed inventors, explorers, scientists and leaders. Together we shape the future. Science is part of our past, a past that is often overlooked, an immense part of our present and it is key to our success. There is endless potential still to be realised. The growing impact of Irish scientific achievement will make a difference in people's lives, support industry investment, future proof our skill base and involve everyone in the potential of science and innovation. We will continue to question, imagine, collaborate, discover, answer and create. We will make a difference to Irish society and our economy. More importantly, we will make a difference to humankind. See