Minister Mitchell O’Connor calls on Higher Education Institutions to transform Ireland through four new National Development Funds

11 June 2018 

Minister Mitchell O’Connor calls on Higher Education Institutions to transform Ireland through four new National Development Funds

€195 million to be allocated to Funds in Budget 2019 and €4 billion between 2019 and 2027 

Intensive collaboration planned in rural development, urban development, climate action and disruptive technology 

Minister Mitchell O’Connor urges all the Presidents of the universities and institutes of technology to join consortia that will transform Ireland as part of our National Development Plan. 

Last week the Government announced details of the four new funds that will spend €4 billion on a wide range of projects between 2019 and 2027. It is intended that the funds will invite project proposals next month. 

Minister Mitchell O’Connor said: 

“I believe the funds offer tremendous opportunities to higher education institutions to join consortia to develop projects that will transform Ireland as part of the National Development Plan. 

“All our universities and institutes of technology have wide-ranging programmes, research activities and expertise across the desired themes. 

“These Funds are a once-in-a-generation opportunity for our higher education institutions to innovate projects which will define the country, and future generations. 

The scope for our third level institutions is huge. Science and technology themes range from health and wellbeing to robotics, smart food production to artificial intelligence, advanced manufacturing to climate action. In social science fields, projects will be invited to stimulate active tourism in rural communities, revive smaller towns and villages or support entrepreneurship.”  

The projects, covering a multitude of specific activities, will be under four broad themes: 

-        Rural development (€1bn)

-        Urban development (€2bn)

-        Climate Action(€.5bn)

-        Disruptive Technology(€.5bn)

 Notes for Editors: 

The Rural Fund will invite proposals to strengthen the fabric of rural Ireland and support job creation. Already higher education institutions, especially Institutes of Technology are working on the ground at this. Coming together with local authorities and community groups, for example, offer new opportunities to invest in areas like tourism, tackle infrastructure deficits, support entrepreneurship and innovation and enhance the vibrancy of smaller towns and villages. 

The Urban Development Fund will focus on our five cities (all of which have higher education institutions) and five regional/cross Border drivers (four of which have institutes of technology). Key criteria include a joined-up approach to investment, collaboration between public bodies like education institutes, local authorities and the private sector with the aim of transformational place-based change such as can be seen at the DIT Grangegorman site. 

The Climate Action Fund will support initiatives across a wide range of environmental and energy areas in which our higher education system has an outstanding record of innovation and research such as biofuels, air quality, energy efficiency, biogas, solar energy and micro generation.The Irish Bioeconomy Foundation activity at Lisheen in Tipperary is an exemplary flagship for what can be achieved in this area and involves UCD, TCD and Limerick IT. 

The Disruptive Technologies Fund will examine proposals that fall in line with the national research priority areas for 2018 to 2023 across a wide range of activities and must be truly disruptive in a way that significantly alters the we work and live and how businesses or entire industries operate. This is a core activity in most of the research done in Irish higher education. Proposals will be sought from collaborations between companies, higher education, public sector bodies and research organisations.