Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) is a statutory body in the Republic of Ireland with responsibility for disbursing funds for basic science research. SFI invests in academic researchers and research teams who are most likely to generate new knowledge, leading edge technologies and competitive enterprises in the fields of science and engineering underpinning three broad areas of biotechnology; information and communications technology; and sustainable energy and energy-efficient technologies. Dr Ruth Freeman, director, programmes, enterprise and international affairs, SFI, who is in India currently as part of the first-ever ministerial-led Irish higher education mission, in an interaction with FE’s Vikram Chaudhary, shares how SFI invests in academic researchers who are most likely to generate new knowledge and competitive enterprises in the fields of science and engineering. Excerpts:
How did SFI come into being?
SFI is a statutory body established in 2003, under the Industrial Development (Science Foundation Ireland) Act, 2003. In 1998, the Irish government commissioned economic research across a broad spectrum of subjects with a view as to how these areas could be developed in the long term. Through this research the government established that both biotechnology and ICT represented the engines of future growth in the global economy and that research within specific facets of these disciplines would be an essential foundation for future growth. Following this, the government set up SFI.
Who funds SFI?
SFI is the Irish government’s science agency, funded through the department of jobs, enterprise and innovation. It is funded by the Irish government.
What kind of activities is SFI involved in?
SFI has just published its new strategy—Agenda 2020. It has four primary objectives: (1) To be the best science funding agency in the world at creating impact from excellent research and demonstrating clear value for money invested; (2) to be the exemplar in building partnerships that fund excellent science and drive it out into the market; (3) to have the most engaged and scientifically informed public; and (4) to represent the ideal modern public service organisation, staffed in a lean and flexible manner, with efficient and effective management. SFI invests in academic researchers who are most likely to generate new