Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan and Monaghan and Chair of the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly, Brendan Smith has welcomed the announcement of €40 million for a North-South Research programme.
This significant investment, provided through the Shared Island Fund, will support the deepening of links between higher education institutions, researchers and research communities on the island of Ireland.
Deputy Brendan Smith commented, “This further investment in north-south research will strengthen important collaborations on this island. This is an investment in knowledge and skills, but also a major investment in the future of this island.”
The Cavan and Monaghan TD added: “As someone who represents an area along the border, I know the lasting importance of maintaining and deepening relationships across this island or ours. While we have a shared history which is complicated, we need to work together to build a shared future which offers real hope and prosperity for all.”
Speaking at the announcement, the Taoiseach, Micheál Martin said: “All island research cooperation is one of my Government’s top priorities and the allocation of €40m from the Shared Island Fund to the new North-South Research Programme sends a clear signal of our commitment to foster new North-South research collaborations.
“I have always been a strong supporter of comprehensive and well-funded research programmes – it’s an investment in knowledge and skills, but more importantly, it’s an investment in the future of this island.
“This is a very exciting opportunity – the programme will bring individual researchers, research teams and third level institutions North and South together, collaborating across a range of areas and work programmes.”
An Taoiseach concluded: “This work will build on the cooperation which already exists and will broaden and deepen relationships between the partner institutions.”
In the Year 1 call, Strand I projects may receive a maximum of €100,000 per annum for up to two years, while Strands II and III projects may receive up to €1 million per annum for up to four years. A maximum of 50% of any award may be allocated to NI partners. At the end of Year 2, a review will be undertaken of the projects funded thus far in order to inform the format of the second call.
Investment in research is a key priority in the Programme for Government, which contains commitments to “develop and deepen all aspects of north-south cooperation” and to “support a north-south programme of research and innovation”.
This announcement is the single largest allocation to date from the €500m Shared Island Fund, further highlighting the importance that the Government is placing on high quality, comprehensive research, while complementing other Shared Island investments, which have focussed on long standing infrastructure projects like the Ulster Canal and Narrow Water Bridge.
The programme will be run by the Higher Education Authority and will encompass a portfolio of investment instruments to take account of the different types of nascent cross-border research opportunities. The Programme will be structured along the following three strands:
I. Bilateral researcher-researcher projects
This will support individual researchers based in an Irish higher education institution (HEI) to collaborate with a researcher in a HEI in Northern Ireland on an identified research project.
II. Emerging hubs of excellence
This strand will support research teams to collaborate on an agreed work programme. Interdisciplinary collaborations will be encouraged.
III. Institutional strategic research engagement
Higher education institutions will be supported to collaborate with each other on the basis of their respective institutional strategic research priorities.
Eligibility and Funding
The funding will be awarded through two Programme calls (across the three strands above), the first Call issuing before the end of this year and the second in Year 3. In the Year 1 call, Strand I projects may receive a maximum of €100,000 per annum for up to two years, while Strands II and III projects may receive up to €1m per annum for up to four years. A maximum of 50% of any award may be allocated to NI partners.
All publicly funded higher education institutions on the island will be eligible to apply to the programme and at least one proposal participant must be based in Ireland and one in Northern Ireland.
In terms of assessment of funding applications, the HEA will put in place a peer-review assessment process typical of research funding awards involving an independent panel of international experts.
At the end of Year 2, a review will be undertaken of the projects funded thus far in order to inform the format of the second call. For example, this will consider breakdown of applications and approvals across Strands, as well as thematic spread such as climate and health-related awards.