Monday, 27 May 2013 Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) today announced the details of a partnership with the National Science Foundation (NSF) in the United States.  The important agreement will help encourage, develop and facilitate research opportunities in Ireland for the best young research talent in the NSF’s Graduate Research Fellowship Programme under the Graduate Research Opportunities Worldwide (GROW) initiative. The agreement was signed at the 2nd Annual Global Meeting of the Global Research Council in Berlin, Germany.


The Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) has supported more than 40 Nobel laureates during its 61 year tenure. Graduates are also well represented among international government leaders, business executives, writers, and members of the National Academy of Sciences including; U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, Google co-founder Sergey Brin and Freakonomics co-author Steven Levitt. 


Dr. Cora Marrett acting Director of the NSF said, “Today’s graduate students being trained as scientists and engineers in the USA will increasingly collaborate and compete with their peers from around the globe throughout their career. GRFP prepares NSF Graduate Research Fellows (GRFs) to engage successfully in the global research enterprise by connecting them to leading scientists and research infrastructure in Ireland and around the world.”


Director General of Science Foundation Ireland, Professor Mark Ferguson, said, “This partnership will create new opportunities for young, talented researchers while strengthening the academic ties between our two countries.  As set out in Agenda 2020, SFI has a strategic objective to be the exemplar in building partnerships that fund and support excellent science.  It is important to note that the NSF identified SFI Research Centres as a major reason for agreeing this partnership for their GRFP.  This agreement will deliver excellent research in areas of national importance including; nanotechnology, marine renewable energy, ‘Big Data’, medical technologies and food, which will have a positive impact on Ireland’s economic future.”


Graduate Research Opportunities Worldwide supports NSF’s broader commitment to address the internationalisation of science and engineering and to provide multiple pathways to engagement with top researchers worldwide. Other countries participating in GRFP include; Chile, Denmark, Finland, France, Japan, Korea, Norway, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland and South Korea. The Fellows, selected through the normal process through the NSF GRF Program and invited to participate in GROW, are hosted by a science agency in a partner country for a period of three to 12 months. In Ireland NSF Graduate Research Fellows will be hosted by SFI Research Centres.


About NSF

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2012, its budget was $7.0 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives about 50,000 competitive requests for funding, and makes about 11,500 new funding awards. NSF also awards about $593 million in professional and service contracts yearly.


SFI Research Centres

The centres will be in the following areas:

  • INSIGHT – Big Data Research Centre – with the explosion of internet based information this centre looks at the development of breakthrough data analytics technologies to make Ireland a global leader in this rapidly expanding area.
  • MaREI – Marine renewable energy – Ireland is one of the best locations in the world in terms of marine renewable energy resources. This centre will look to generate energy technologies for industry from wave, tidal and floating wind devices.
  • AMBER – A leading centre in nanotechnology and material science. Ireland is currently ranked 6th globally in nanotechnology and 8th in materials science. 
  • Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre (APC) – Food for health/functional foods; the centre addresses important issues such as disease prevention, healthy ageing and improved population health in general. Ireland is currently ranked 2nd in the world in probiotics research. 
  • I-PIC – Irish Photonics Integration Research Centre – Photonics which is the generation, manipulation and utilization of light, is an important enabling technology that underpins many areas such as future networks, communications systems and medical devices.  
  • INFANT – Perinatal Translational Research focused on fast-tracking discoveries relating to most complications of pregnancy and newborn babies.
  • SSPC – Synthesis & Solid State Pharmaceutical Centre – this centres research focuses on the development new mechanisms and better control processes to produce new and improved drug formulations and safe medicines. This centre is of major importance to Ireland’s pharmaceutical sector, a sector which generated over €56 billion in exports in 2012.
  • CTVR / The Telecommunications Research Centre – a national telecommunications research centre focused on industry-informed research in wireless and optical networking.
  • LERO/Irish Software Engineering Research Centre – leading research in software engineering with a special emphasis on Evolving Critical Systems.
  • The Biomedical Diagnostics Institute (BDI) is carries out cutting-edge research programmes focussed on the development of next-generation biomedical diagnostic devices.
  • CNGL/Centre for Global Intelligent Content is a research centre dedicated to delivering disruptive innovations in digital intelligent content, and to revolutionising the global content value chain for enterprises, communities and individuals.

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