Thursday, March 1, 2012

Irish Research Priorities

Today sees the launch by the Government of its Research Prioritisation Plan.

The plan aims to target the majority of the Government's core €500m budget for scientific research on 14 specific areas of greatest opportunity.

To be prioritised, the area had to represent a global market in which Irish-based companies could compete. Ireland must have strengths in related areas already and have the capability of conducting public R&D to exploit the area. Also, a national or global challenge must exist which Ireland needs to respond to.

The 14 priority areas of focus are:

Future Networks & Communications
Data Analytics Management, Security & Privacy   
Digital Platforms, Content & Applications
Connected Health & Independent Living
Medical Devices
Therapeutics - synthesis formulation, processing and drug delivery
Food for Health
Sustainable Food Production and Processing
Marine Renewable Energy
Smart Grids & Smart Cities
Manufacturing Competitiveness
Processing Technologies and Novel Materials
Innovation in Services and Business Processes

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Mr Richard Bruton, T.D.said at the launch “In recent years we have built up a very substantial base of world-class scientific research taking place in Ireland. The challenge now is to ensure that this activity is translated into commercial outcomes and sustainable businesses and sustainable jobs. With determined implementation of the recommendations of this report we can make sure that this happens”.

As an example in my own field, one of the priority research areas is "Sustainable Food Production and Processing". The report concludes that "global demand for food is projected to increase by 70 per cent over the next 40 years" and that Ireland is ideally placed to exploit such a demand.

"Alongside the need to increase food production is the challenge of doing so in a manner that does not impact on greenhouse gas emissions, water quality, biodiversity or fish stocks. The focus of this priority area is on sustainable, competitive and efficient agri- & marine food production and processing."

"Growth in global population and changing diets in emerging countries are projected to bring about a 70 per cent increase in food demand to feed 9 billion people by 2050. The greatest challenge faced by agriculture is to meet development and sustainability goals, while increasing production. Over the coming decades, there will be increased global competition for land use. This is the ‘food, energy and environment trilemma’, where increased demand for food and energy combine, pressure on land conversion is increased, leading to further climate change, which in turn may affect productivity and availability of land."

Are there areas missing that you would have liked to see included? Let us know by adding a comment below.

You can read the report in full here (pdf).


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