Dr. Mazhar Bari (CEO, Solarprint), Minister Sean Sherlock, Prof. Orla Feely, Chair, Irish Research Council

Financial Support for Research Students Taken on by Employers

Minister for Research and Innovation, Sean Sherlock,  T.D. visited the SolarPrint company premises on the Ballymoss Road, Sandyford, this morning (20th February) to launch  the Employment Based Postgraduate Programme for 2013. This  programme, managed by the Irish Research Council, offers researchers the opportunity to complete a Master’s Degree or PhD Degree while being employed by a private company or public organisation based in the Republic of Ireland.  A total of €1.8 million has been invested in the first round of awards, with €0.6 million of this coming from employer partners.

The aim of the programme is to educate researchers at Masters and PhD level with an insight into business aspects of research and innovation and to facilitate research collaboration, knowledge transfer and networking between Irish based enterprise and researchers at Higher Education Institutes.  For employers, the programme offers the opportunity to employ a talented postgraduate researcher to work on an agreed project which must have direct relevance to the company.  

Successful researchers have secured places with a wide variety of Irish employers, including the Projects Arts Centre, SolarPrint, Biomnis Ireland, Inland Fisheries Ireland, Mulcahy Walsh & Co.,  and the Alzheimer Society of Ireland as well as in multinational companies such as Boston Scientific, Digital Optics Corporation Europe Ltd and Allergan Pharmaceuticals

The programme is open to all research disciplines, providing the student is registered as a postgraduate student at an Irish Higher Education Institution.

 Speaking in advance of the announcement Minister Sherlock  said,

“This unique programme,  the first of its kind in Ireland,  meets the needs of both industry and the research student.  It is a win-win situation, and is a partnership between the higher education institution and the employer in developing the skills and expertise of the researchers and innovators who will be so important for our future. Companies that are serious about research and development will avail of the opportunity provided.”

Professor Orla Feely Chair of the Irish Research Council said,

“The Employment Based Postgraduate Programme will further advance the objective of supporting researchers in the development of their careers, and it builds on the strong foundation laid through the Enterprise Partnership Scheme with which 200 companies have engaged.”

The next round of the Employment Based Postgraduate Programme for 2013/14 will be open for applications in the coming weeks,  details are available on the Irish Research Council website

Case Study – Solarprint

SolarPrint is an Irish company that is developing next generation energy technologies which convert light from any source into energy. The company develops Dye-Sensitised Solar Cells (DSSC), a third-generation printable solar cell technology.

Dr. Mazhar Bari, Chief Technology Officer of SolarPrint said,

“We participate in the Irish Research Council programme in order to accelerate innovation in next-generation photovoltaic technologies and foster meaningful relationships with academic partners. By supporting talented researchers in Irish universities, SolarPrint can explore novel materials and processes that offer solutions to the technical challenges we face. These collaborative efforts generate new ideas, inspire future products, and secure intellectual property to cement SolarPrint's position at the forefront of indoor energy harvesting technology.”

Note for Editors

The Employment Based  Postgraduate Programme is a new initiative by the Irish Research Council for Masters and PhD students  which provides the opportunity to undertake a Masters of PhD qualification in an employment setting.  The programme is co-funded by the Irish Research Council and the employment partner.   The research student will spend between 50-70% of their time in the employment setting, and 30-50% in the higher education institution.  The student and research is subject to the quality processes and procedures of the higher education institution at which they are registered. The  pilot this year is funding 36 students, with almost 60% of the employers being SMEs. The pilot programme represents an investment of  €1.8m,  of which €0.6m  is being provided by the employers.  

The programme builds on the successful Irish Research Councils Enterprise Partnership Scheme which was initiated in 2004/2005 and which has funded over 300 individuals. In that scheme the student is primarily based at the higher education institution and enterprise funds one third of a studentship. Since its initiation, almost 200 companies have partnered on that programme.