The Irish Universities Association welcomes the announcement of €5 million in funding grants to key COVID-19 research and innovation projects by Minister Heather Humphreys today. 26 ground-breaking research projects have been funded today (26th April), 21 by the Health Research Board/Irish Research Council and a further 5 by the Science Foundation Ireland/Enterprise Ireland/IDA Ireland.
The higher education research sector self-mobilised into immediate action in response to the crisis, making a significant contribution to the national emergency response. Even in advance of the investment announced today, university researchers were providing much needed support, beginning with the production of highly sought-after reagents for diagnostic testing when the available commercial sources were exhausted by global demand. This initial activity quickly advanced to developing interventions to help control the spread of the pandemic and protect our communities, with University researchers quickly turning their expertise and creativity to helping patients, the public and the government in this time of national need.
The research funded today covers a wide breadth of areas, not just in health but also in the broader range of disciplines that will help to get Ireland on the road to recovery. Key projects benefiting from the investment include:
- Development of equipment to make it easier and safer for patients with COVID-19 to breathe (NUI Galway)
- Screening for antiviral compounds with activity against SARS-CoV-2 (UCD)
- Using telehealth to enhance management of vulnerable groups during the covid-19 pandemic (TCD)
- Studying the effect of COVID-19 mitigation social restrictions on individuals on the autism spectrum (DCU)
- Assessing the impact of public health measures on physical, mental and social wellbeing (UCC)
- Development of data platforms for emergency response management (MU)
- An investigation of psychological responses to COVID-19 in healthcare workers during the pandemic (UL)
Commenting on the announcement Professor Linda Doyle, IUA chair of the Vice-Presidents and Deans of Research, said: “The rapid response to the current crisis that has been seen across the higher education sector highlights the strength and depth of research talent and expertise that is available in Ireland to address the challenges we face from Covid-19. This talent, agility and creativity will undoubtedly play a strong role in the next phase of this challenge. It also once again demonstrates the fundamental importance of a strong research system that enables researchers to do their best work and facilitates them to respond to unforeseen challenges as they arise.”
Director of Research & Innovation at IUA, Dr Lisa Keating added: “I congratulate the many researchers across our universities whose projects will make a real difference in fighting this virus, helping us recover as a society and to build a strong future together. The benefits of a broad-based research system that can respond rapidly to new challenges have never been clearer and we will work with Government to protect and enhance research funding.”
Higher education and research need strong support from the incoming government to continue the fight against COVID-19 and help position Ireland’s economy at the forefront internationally as all nations emerge from their current difficulties. The vital importance of the research funded today, and that which takes place every day in our higher education institutions, should be a key priority for the incoming government.
Notes to Editors:
Key highlights of the universities research contribution to the national efforts to fight Covid-19 available here.