€13.5 million Joint Investment Announced for US-Ireland R&D Programme

Mar 18 2021 Posted: 09:19 GMT

A joint investment of €13.5 million was today announced through a tripartite research and development partnership between the United States, Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. The seven awards will support more than 60 research positions across 14 research institutions, for three to five years. CÚRAM based at University of Galway will collaborate in two research projects.

The US-Ireland Research and Development Partnership, launched in July 2006, is a unique initiative that aims to increase the level of collaborative Research and Development amongst researchers and industry professionals across the three jurisdictions. The programme involves multiple funding partners across the three jurisdictions, working together collaboratively to support the most excellent and impactful research.

The funding agencies involved in the awards announced today (17 March 2021) are Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) and the Health Research Board (HRB) in the Republic of Ireland; the National Science Foundation (NSF) and National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the USA, and the Health and Social Care Research and Development Division (HSC R&D) and the Department for the Economy (DfE) in Northern Ireland.

Welcoming the announcement, Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland, said: “The US-Ireland R&D Partnership Programme continues to support and encourage strong collaborative relationships between our countries. It recognises and highlights Ireland’s significant scientific standing internationally and the societal and economic benefits that can be realised when we work beyond our borders. I wish all of the partners every success in this important collaboration.”

The programme, which uses a ‘single-proposal, single-review’ approach, focuses on prioritised thematic areas, including sensors, nanoscale science and engineering, telecommunications, energy and sustainability, and health. The Irish components of research projects in the area of health are jointly co-funded by SFI with the Health Research Board.

Professor Garry Duffy, CÚRAM SFI Research Centre for Medical Devices based at University of Galway, is partnering with Queen’s University Belfast and the Georgia Institute of Technology (US) led NSF Engineering Research Centre for Cell Manufacturing Technologies to develop a Global Cell Manufacturing and Delivery partnership. The team aims to develop technologies to allow ambient transfer of complex cell-based therapies for chronic disease including heart disease and non-healing wounds, which could reduce the costs of cell products while maintaining their safety and potency. The partners will scale-up, model and test a hydrogel-based ambient transport system to make it clinical trial ready.

Professor Gerard O’Connor, CÚRAM SFI Research Centre for Medical Devices based at University of Galway,is working withQueen’s University Belfast (NI) and Boston University (US) in a Cardiac Organoid Systems Partnership to create a functional engineered cardiac tissue with electromechanical properties that mimic native human myocardium on a scalable laser-enabled manufacturing platform with the potential to transform the treatment of chronic heart disease.

Commenting on the awards, Health Research Board Chief Executive, Dr Mairéad O'Driscoll said: “Health research makes a real difference to people’s lives. We’ve seen how the recent pandemic has sparked huge public interest in both health and research. The HRB plays an essential role in advancing research, and is committed to supporting highly innovative international collaboration through the US-Ireland R&D Programme. I welcome the announcement of these new awards, which will generate health benefits in Ireland and internationally.”

In congratulating the researchers on these awards,Dr Janice Bailie, Assistant Director,  Health and Social Care (HSC) Research and Development, Northern Ireland, said: “More than ever, we can see the immense value of international research collaboration, as supported by the US Ireland R&D Programme. This bringing together of researchers from across Ireland and the US is strengthening knowledge transfer and improving health outcomes with global impact.”  

Trevor Cooper, Director of Higher Education in the Department for the Economy Northern Ireland, said: “The US-Ireland R&D Partnership supports ground-breaking trans-Atlantic research which will help to further develop Northern Ireland’s research and innovation capabilities, driving competition with the potential to deliver significant economic impact.”

For more information on the programme, visit https://www.sfi.ie/funding/funding-calls/us-ireland-rd-partnership/.


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