MINISTER ENGLISH WELCOMES €11 MILLION EUROPEAN RESEARCH COUNCIL FUNDING FOR EIGHT IRISH RESEARCHERS

THE LARGEST NUMBER OF ERC STARTING GRANTS TO BE AWARDED TO IRISH-BASED RESEARCHERS TO DATE

Dublin, 12th December 2014 – Minister for Skills, Research and Innovation, Damien English TD today welcomed awards to eight Irish researchers worth approximately €11 million through European Research Council Starting Grants.  The funding has been awarded to researchers from Trinity College Dublin, Dublin City University, University College Dublin, University College Cork and the National University of Ireland, Galway to further their research in areas such as tissue engineering, solar energy, neuroscience, evolutionary biology, disability legislation and environmental law. It is the largest number of ERC Starting Grants to be awarded to Irish-based Researchers in one year and compares to two awards approved in 2013.

ERC Starting Grants support up-and-coming research leaders who are about to establish a proper research team and start conducting independent research in Europe. The scheme targets promising researchers who have demonstrated the ‘ground-breaking nature, ambition and feasibility of their scientific proposal’.

Welcoming the announcement, Minister for Skills, Research and Innovation, Damien English TD said: “This announcement represents the highest number of European Research Council Starting Grants awarded to Irish-based researchers in a single year to date. It is a sign of the momentum behind the Irish scientific community in reaching our funding targets as part of the Horizon 2020 programme.  It is testament to the talent of Ireland’s young research leaders.”

Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) and the Irish Research Council (IRC) are the National Contact Points (NCPs) for ERC programmes in Ireland and work together to provide the best support possible to the Irish research community to enable them to succeed in accessing ERC programmes.

Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland said: “ERC Starting Grants are prestigious awards that support promising early-career researchers to continue their journeys towards research independence. The recipients announced today, have succeeded against stiff competition and I congratulate them on their achievements. The number of Irish recipients of ERC Starting Grants reflects the high calibre of emerging research talent in the Irish scientific community and the supportive environment for early-career researchers in Ireland. SFI supports early career researchers and applicants to the ERC through a variety of new schemes and it is pleasing to see the early benefits of these which will hopefully be sustained in the future.” 

Dr. Eucharia Meehan, Director of the Irish Research Council said: “Congratulations to the recipients of these ERC awards which are important in enabling these innovative researchers to carry out excellent research with independence of thought whilst also enabling their career development. The ERC model and ethos is reflected in the Irish Research Council programmes and supports we provided, and will continue to provide, to applicants. The insights and knowledge that will emerge through the research of these excellent researchers will benefit the future of Irish and European, and indeed global citizens."