Ireland’s National Marine Research & Innovation Strategy 2017-2021 (MRIS) was launched by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine in June 2017. As part of the preparation of the MRIS, a detailed review of national and European policies and strategies in relation to the marine was undertaken. This process identified the 15 major themes that are considered under the Strategy (see graphic). This approach was taken to ensure that the Strategy focused on applied and demand-led research, while recognising the importance of a fully functional marine research system that extends from basic research, through applied research, to translational utilisation of research outputs.
The MRIS built on the significant progress made during the implementation of Ireland’s previous Marine Research, Knowledge and Innovation Strategy – Sea Change 2007-2013, which added new research capacity in priority areas and highlighted the potential of marine-related research to contribute to wider economic growth.
The Strategy aims to provide a framework within which funding for marine research can be targeted most effectively to areas of strategic importance. It allows research funders, working in partnership with the Marine Institute, to assess the impact and likely return to the state from investment in marine related research. It is also designed to ensure that state support for marine research results in Irish researchers being able to compete at an international level and participate fully in transnational research projects. The Strategy outlines 16 key implementing actions.
The MRIS continues to be implemented as a whole of government strategy. As part of the Strategy’s implementing actions a Marine Research Funders’ Forum (MRFF) was established as a strategy implementation mechanism in 2018. The Forum brings together Government Departments, research funding agencies and key stakeholders with the aim of enhancing coordination in marine related research funding, whilst also addressing a number of the implementing actions set out in the Strategy.
In collaboration with the members of the MRFF, another implementing action identified in the Strategy also commenced in 2018 – the collection and analysis of national marine research investment data. Collection of this data is an ongoing process and a national database of marine research projects is available here.
The database is filterable by Year, Research Theme, Funder, Research Organisation, Organisation Type, and Award Type. In addition to projects funded by the national funders, the database also contains internationally funded projects with Irish involvement e.g. Horizon 2020, Interreg. Accompanying charts and heatmaps provide a visual representation of the information contained in the database.
An independent interim review of the MRIS was undertaken in 2020 and published in 2021. This review examined the progress towards achieving the goals and implementing actions as set out in the Strategy. The review included an overview of marine research funding; an updated assessment of research maturity levels for the Strategy’s 15 major research themes; a review of funding instruments, implementing structures and impact measures; and a set of recommendations to support the ongoing progress towards the achievement of the MRIS goals and to inform the preparation and orientation of its successor, post-2021.