The government today announced details of the first 26 projects that will receive €5 million funding under the newly-established national, coordinated research and innovation response to the COVID-19 pandemic, complementing the ongoing research work already underway in higher education institutions.
Speaking at today’s announcement, Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys TD said:
"Research, development and innovation will play a significant role in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic. The projects announced today are part of a national drive to find solutions to the challenges we face. Right across the country, our research community in our higher education institutions and businesses, both indigenous and foreign owned, have mobilised to address these key issues. The projects announced today, which take in health and social care as well as policy and industry, will help to address how we can ease the restrictions over time and get the country back up-and-running again.”
The research projects are part of a broader initiative by the Irish State to mitigate and manage the COVID-19 pandemic by unlocking the potential of Irish based researchers and innovators, and to complement similar work around the world. All of the projects were internationally peer reviewed at the assessment stage.
More than 350 applications were received with these final 26 proving successful.
The 26 projects cover a huge range of areas including:
- creating a secure, reliable supply of high-quality reagents to enable large-scale testing
- producing PPE for frontline health staff using state-of-the-art 3D printing equipment
- tracking the genetics of the COVID-19 virus in Ireland
- online resources to support healthcare professionals who have answered Ireland’s call for COVID-19
- why don’t we keep our distance? Evidence for more effective communication in the pandemic
- getting a measure of silent infection: a key to COVID-19 recovery planning
Minister for Health Simon Harris said:
"Research and development is critical to supporting Ireland’s National Action Plan in response to COVID-19 and in navigating a way forward for individuals, communities and society as a whole. In these extraordinary circumstances, I am delighted to see such collaboration and coordination in a collective battle against COVID-19. These projects have real potential to have an impact on the health and wellbeing of patients, families, healthcare workers and the healthcare system.
"In particular, having suitable treatments or vaccines is the best exit strategy from COVID-19 and the related restrictions we are living with so I am committed to ensuring a coordinated and proactive approach is taken to ensuring that COVID-19 patients across all settings in Ireland have access to new and emerging treatments as part of clinical trials.”
This initiative is overseen by a coordinated Rapid Response Research, Development and Innovation programme established by the Health Research Board (HRB), Irish Research Council (IRC), Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland.
Minister for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development, John Halligan said:
"I want to acknowledge the ongoing support from the higher education institutions and researchers across the country that have undertaken a vast array of actions to support and deal with the challenges we face. Research, development and innovation will have a significant role to play in our response to COVID-19. Governments around the globe have also rapidly mobilised research in tackling the crisis, and the opportunities being provided to our research community will ensure a coordinated and meaningful contribution to solving some of the challenges we are presented with during the current crisis. It is through sustainable investment in research that we will beat COVID-19 and future pandemics, as well as generate the insight and understanding to support responsive social, economic and cultural policies.
"In response to the pandemic, researchers right across higher education and all disciplines have self-mobilised to re-direct research activity toward the national response to COVID-19. The current situation has brought to light very many examples of relevant research being undertaken in higher education.
"Research projects already underway have been re-purposed to solve multiple challenges arising: the stories below demonstrating, as well naturally as health and medical research, the role of ICT research, psychology, law, and many other disciplines, in Ireland’s COVID-19 response. This highlights the value of the broad-based research which is underpinned by the core investment in our higher education sector and which provides the bedrock of Ireland’s public research system."
Researchers across higher education and all disciplines have come together to re-direct research activity toward the national response to COVID-19. All of our universities and institutes of technology have developed research, innovation or technical assistance projects that are adding significantly to the national effort to combat the virus, and assist us to recovery. A Research sub-group of the Senior Officials Group in the Department of the Taoiseach has been working to facilitate an exchange of views across Government and provide an overview of research programmes, priorities, and gaps relating to the evolving COVID-19 pandemic.
Additional information on existing research is available here: https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/680a30-covid-19-existing-research/