Minister English says  €44 million investment in Tara Mines is “a vote of confidence in Navan and in Meath”

Action Plan for Jobs, Bohermeen, Innovation, Jobs, Meath, Navan, Research, Research and Innovation

Monday, 16th January 2017

The official confirmation of news last week that the Swedish owners of
Tara Mines, Boliden, intend to invest €44 million in the facility to
allow operations to continue up to 2026 and secrue 700 local jobs is “a vote of confidence
in Navan and in Meath” according to local Fine Gael T.D. and Minister
for Housing and Urban Renewal Damien English. “This is a good day for
our town and County, and for the workers” he said.

As a former Minister for Skills, Research and innovation from 2014 to
2016, the local Minister also wished to emphasise and compliment the
role that collaborative research and innovation between Science
Foundation Ireland and industry partners like Boliden had played in
making the investment happen.

“Boliden are an industry collaborator with the Science Foundation
Ireland iCRAG Research Centre and this new exploration find was part
of their collaborative research efforts. This is a great example of
the significant impact on our local and national economy and jobs,
that can come from collaborative research.  We need more research like
this both locally and nationally to ensure we continue to future proof
our economy and make it fit for the challenges of the 21st century”
Minister English said.

“Whilst local authorities and Governments do not create jobs, they are
crucial players in creating the right environment for jobs and
investment to thrive.  In that respect the Boliden announcement is an
endorsement of our strategies locally and nationally to make Meath a
destination of choice to invest in, start a business in, and live in.
Such strategies include the Meath County Council Economic Development
Plan, the National and Regional Action Plans for Jobs, and Horizon
2020 – our new science strategy launched during my time in the
Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation” concluded Minister


Science Foundation Ireland and Pfizer announce exciting new R&D programme for Ireland

Action Plan for Jobs, Funding, Innovation, Jobs, Research, Research and Innovation

13th April 2016

Funding awarded to researchers in Ireland to find potential new therapies for patients of unmet needs

Science Foundation Ireland and Pfizer today announced the recipients of the 2016 SFI-Pfizer Biotherapeutics Innovation Award programme. The collaboration between Science Foundation Ireland and Pfizer provides qualified academic researchers with an opportunity to deliver important potential discoveries in the areas of immunology, oncology, cardiovascular and rare diseases.

Supported by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, the SFI-Pfizer Biotherapeutics Innovation Award programme has awarded funding to researchers from across three academic institutions in Ireland including the Royal College Surgeons (RCSI), University College Cork (UCC) and University College Dublin (UCD).

In addition to the funding, academic researchers will have the unique opportunity to work with the Pfizer Global Biotherapeutics Technology (GBT) group, at Grangecastle in Dublin, as well as Pfizer’s R&D innovation engine, the Centers for Therapeutic Innovation. The teams’ research will focus on the application of cutting edge technologies for next generation protein therapies.

Speaking at the announcement, Mr Damien English, TD, Minister for Research, Skills and Innovation, said: “The collaboration between Science Foundation Ireland and Pfizer is an excellent example of how government, industry and academia can work together and share knowledge that could lead to the development of new medical breakthroughs not only for Irish patients but for patients worldwide. The Government continues to encourage and welcome programmes that offer opportunities in research and development in Ireland. Innovative partnerships and meaningful collaboration between industry and academia like this also help to build Ireland’s reputation internationally as a location for excellent scientific research.”

Commenting at the announcement, Prof Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland said, “We are delighted to continue this successful partnership with Pfizer to support innovative research and development that could help deliver significant advances in critical areas of medical need. The success of the award programme is a reflection of the quality and relevance of academic scientific research in Ireland – excellence and impact.”

Commenting on the announcement, Dr. Paul Duffy, Vice President, Biopharmaceutical Operations and External Supply, Pfizer said, “Pfizer are delighted with the continued collaboration with Science Foundation Ireland. As an organisation we are focused on delivering innovative therapies that significantly improve patients’ lives and investment in early stage research is critical to achieving this. Collaborations between industry and academia remain key in helping to expedite the translation of scientific discoveries into breakthrough therapies that matter for patients in need.”

In 2015, five proposals representing four institutions across Ireland were awarded similar funding. Over the past year the researchers have worked in collaboration with Pfizer colleagues on potential new therapies for diseases including haemophilia, fibrosis, Motor Neuron Disease, psoriasis and Crohn’s disease. A number of these programmes are advancing and are on track to reaching their goals.


The recipients of the SFI-Pfizer Biotherapeutics Innovation Award are:

  • Prof Martin Steinhoff, University College Dublin – Prof Steinhoff leads a translational research team attempting to understand the molecular mechanisms underlying skin inflammation and associated chronic itch, for which there remains a significant unmet clinical need. The team hopes to generate targeting molecules that block the activation of key players in these inflammatory pathways.


  • Dr Anne Moore, University College Cork – The remit of Dr Moore’s group is to develop and translate innovative therapies that modulate immune function. Mounting evidence from recent clinical studies demonstrates that harnessing the body’s own immune response to kill tumour cells can be a very effective mechanism to treat cancer. This collaboration aims to develop a novel strategy that enhances the body’s natural anti-tumour response.


  • Dr Leonie Young and Prof Arnold Hill, Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland – Dr Young and Prof Arnold Hill are interested in the underlying mechanisms that control breast cancer resistance to traditional chemotherapeutics. Their aim is to use pre-clinical models, clinical datasets and breast cancer patient samples to better characterize, and effectively target, treatment resistant breast cancers.



– See more at:

English and Bruton announce €28 Million Science Foundation Ireland investment in research

Research and Innovation, Science
Investment by the Dept of Jobs through Science Foundation Ireland Supports Ireland’s Expanding Collaborations and Partnerships with Industry and Academia Internationally   

Research Infrastructure for 21 Projects Supports Progression of Exemplary Irish Science in areas including Manufacturing, Big Data, Wireless Technology & Networks, Natural Resources & Hazards, Internet of Things, Marine Renewable Energy and Animal & Human Health.

Ministers English and Bruton Announce Further Commitment to Irish Science & Innovation through Science Foundation Ireland Infrastructure Awards, supporting the Government’s Action Plan for Jobs and its recently announced Science Strategy, Innovation 2020     
Birr Castle, Offaly, IRELAND – 12 January 2016
  – The Minister for Jobs, Richard Burton, TD together with the Minister for Research, Innovation and Skills, Damien English, TD today announced details of a €28 million investment in research equipment and facilities through Science Foundation Ireland. A total of 21 exemplary research projects will be supported in sectors including applied geo-sciences, pharmaceutical manufacturing, bio-banking, marine renewable energy, internet of things, astronomy, big data and additive manufacturing using nano-materials.

This infrastructure funding was awarded competitively following rigorous international review to research groups where the research equipment and facilities are required to address major research opportunities and challenges; including partnerships with industry and /or international funders.  This new infrastructure will ensure that Irish researchers continue to be internationally competitive, with access to modern equipment and facilities which will enable them to be successful in securing future funding from leading companies and Europe, including Horizon 2020.  

This investment is made by the Department of Jobs through Science Foundation Ireland.
The 21 infrastructure projects funded were in a range of strategically important sectors as follows: 

Animal & Human Health: Human motion analysis system to facilitate the development of personal sensing connected health technologies for patients and athletes; an early life lab to monitor how the brain grows, develops and repairs in young children; a biobank of 4 million samples to facilitate the discovery and development of new treatments in personalised medicine and nutrition to improve outcomes for mothers and babies; a human performance sensing suite to discover and develop new therapeutic strategies for metabolic and neuromuscular disease; animal and pathogen genomics analysis system to support emergent agri-food research areas such as next generation biomarkers, multiplex diagnostics, and genomic selection breeding programmes;

Big Data Analytics, Internet of Things (IoT) and Networks:
 Low Frequency Array (I-LOFAR) gathering radio images of astronomical objects using advanced image processing and data analytics techniques; a new Ireland-wide wireless network testbed to support new IoT concepts, business models and devices to be developed and tested; a radio testbed for the development and testing of new radio technologies for IoT;  a 400+ Gigabit-per-second communications testbed to enable the development of the next generation core network and datacentre technologies;

 additive manufacturing nanomaterial infrastructure for the development of innovative printable materials such as 3D hip and knee implants; a state-of-the-art advanced analysis facility, allowing real-time direct observation of pharmaceutical process reactions as they occur thus supporting drug manufacturing; a crystallization, isolation and drying technology testbed for pharmaceutical manufacturing; splutter disposition tool capable of growing complex, device-quality stacks of metal and oxide thin films for applications such as integrated photonics; infrastructure to support the packaging and assembly of a wide range of miniaturised photonic devices used in data-communications, sensing and point-of-care medical diagnostics.

Natural Resources & Hazards:
 sensing/early-warning system for offshore earthquake and offshore storms, including the quantification of offshore natural resources; electron microscope to determine the microscopic composition of rocks to identify valuable minerals; state of the art X-ray CT scanner to enable the analysis of botanical, geophysical and natural resources; an atmospheric chamber to enable innovative studies on air pollution and climate change.

 an Open Ocean Emulator to accurately replicate real ocean wave conditions in a laboratory setting to accelerate growth of the offshore renewable energy industry in Ireland; a remotely operated vehicle to enable the deployment, repair and maintenance of wave and tidal energy devices in the challenging off shore conditions. Speaking at the announcement in Birr, Co Offaly, Minister Bruton said: “At the heart of our Action Plan for jobs is driving employment growth in every region of the country. We have now put in place individual jobs plans for 7 out of the 8 regions in the country, and what has repeatedly become clear is that research and innovation must be accelerated right across the country if we are to deliver the jobs growth we need. Today’s announcement by Science Foundation Ireland is an important part of this.  By investing in world-class R&D infrastructure, both at a regional and national level, this will ensure that we can compete at the highest levels internationally and continue to turn more good ideas into good jobs”.

Commenting on today’s announcements, Minister English said “Today’s investment will advance the implementation of the government’s new science strategy – Innovation 2020. The 21 projects will enable globally compelling research to be undertaken across the country; facilitating greater industry and international collaboration; supporting the training of researchers and demonstrating to an international audience that Ireland on an all island basis, is business friendly and bullish in its pursuit of, and participation in, excellent research.”

 Prof. Mark Ferguson, Director General Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland, added, “Ireland is increasingly becoming the location of choice for multinational companies to develop and test tomorrow’s technologies and this investment demonstrates our commitment and expanded ability to engage, discover and collaborate at all levels.  Science Foundation Ireland is delighted to support and drive Ireland’s science strategy, Innovation 2020, with the addition of key infrastructure to propel important research projects. Ultimately, this is about providing Irish researchers in strategic areas with the tools to be world leading.”


Minister English highlights Tara Mines impact on Meath economy at national launch for €18 million in Geoscience research

Innovation, Jobs, Meath, Navan, Research and Innovation
Photo of Prof. Mark Ferguson, John Ashton, Chief Exploration Geologist, Boliden Tara Mines Limited and Minister English at iCrag Launch.

Photo of Prof. Mark Ferguson, John Ashton, Chief Exploration Geologist, Boliden Tara Mines Limited and Minister English at iCrag Launch.

RTE 6.1 News coverage:

On December 2nd local T.D. and Minister for Skills, Research and Innovation, Damien English officially launched iCRAG, the Irish Centre for Research in Applied Geosciences. The new Research Centre will focus on the discovery, de-risking and sourcing of raw materials, water and energy resources that are critical to our economy locally and nationally Minister English said.

The centre will receive funding of €18 million from Minister English’s Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation through Science Foundation Ireland’s (SFI) Research Centres Programme, with an additional €8 million from 55 industry partners that include Tara Mines owner Boliden, as well as Geoscience Ireland, Tullow Oil and Petroleum Infrastructure Programme.

Speaking at the announcement, Minister for Skills, Research and Innovation, Damien English TD, said, “A key part of the Government’s Action Plan for Jobs is to continue to build on the major achievements in scientific research with a focus on turning great ideas into good, sustainable jobs and keeping our recovery going. iCRAG is an exciting new research centre which will ultimately grow jobs and support further participation in the STEM sector.”

Tara Mines

“Ireland has a 50 year history of zinc and lead mineral exploration and production. The industry has employed many people particularly in Meath – where Tara Mines is Europe’s largest zinc mine and the world’s ninth largest, it makes a major contribution to the economy of Navan and the wider county. We need to encourage and support industry in their efforts to find the next Navan, and extending the life of this important sector for our economy” Minister English said.

iCRAG will help companies de-risk the exploration for groundwater, hydrocarbons and minerals. This will ultimately help companies explore our natural resources for our benefit. At a time when 95% of our fossil fuels are imported, iCRAG research will help to decrease the risks of Irish exploration and attract more companies to invest in exploration. Security of access to energy is a critical issue for Ireland, given our huge dependence on imported fuels.

Clean Water

Security of access to clean water is a basic requirement for the people of Ireland. Surprisingly nearly 20% of that water comes from under the ground and has to be discovered by geologists. Modern industries are becoming more water hungry, e.g. the IT sector with Facebook’s location at Clonee in Co. Meath, and agri-business. Some of the main growth areas for Ireland are underpinned by the provision of secure supplies of water. iCRAG’s research will help to better discover and sustain these important sources of water.

Minister English officially launches new €2.2 million research into blood cancers

Health, Innovation, Research, Research and Innovation
The Irish Cancer Society, and Science Foundation Ireland, working under the auspices of local Minister for Skills, Research and Innovation Damien English’s Department, are to invest €2.2 million in a new clinical research network for blood cancers.  

Irish patients will be among the first in the world to test new, potentially life-saving treatments under a new national clinical research network launched recently by local Meath West T.D. Damien English. The new network will bring fresh hope for blood cancer patients in Ireland.

The €2.2 million investment has established a new virtual clinical research network that will offer early stage haematology clinical trials, providing blood cancer patients in Ireland with the opportunity to be among the first in the world to test new, potentially life-changing, drugs and treatments

Commenting on this significant investment in cancer research, Minister for Skills, Research, and Innovation, Damien English TD said, “The establishment of Blood Cancer Network Ireland by Science Foundation Ireland and the Irish Cancer Society will bring real and tangible benefits to Irish cancer patients by helping to develop new treatments for blood cancer. It is in line with the Government’s policy of investing and focusing excellent scientific research that impacts positively on Ireland’s economy and society.”    

Over the next five years, Blood Cancer Network Ireland (BCNI) hopes to make novel drugs and treatments available to patients with all types of blood cancers across Ireland. The first clinical trials being rolled out through BCNI will bring fresh hope, in particular, to patients with difficult to treat blood cancers. Patients with Multiple Myeloma (MM) or Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML) will be among the first to take part in early phase clinical trials to test the safety and effectiveness of experimental and potentially life-saving drugs that are in development. Early stage clinical trials test the safety, efficacy, dosage, and side effects of new drugs and treatments on a small number of patients, usually at an advanced stage of disease. These trials are the first hurdle in the licensing process in the development of experimental drugs and treatments.  


Farming, Research and Innovation

At its Industry Day to celebrate its first year in operation, AMBER
unveils new technology that helped an injured Meath racehorse Annagh
Haven return to its winning ways

AMBER, the Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) funded materials science
centre, hosted in Trinity College Dublin, unveiled a new bone repair
technology on January 20th last, which has led to an injured racehorse
Meath from the stables of Larry Mulvaney, Oristown, Kells returning to
its winning ways after a successful jaw reconstruction.  The
announcement, which received national publicity, was made at AMBER’s
Industry Day, held to mark its first anniversary, which was officially
opened by local Meath West TD and Minister for Skills, Research and
Innovation Damien English, and which brought together a number of
AMBER’s industry partners.

The patented bone repair technology was developed by a team of AMBER
Researchers within the Tissue Engineering Research Group (TERG) in the
Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) led by Professor Fergal
O’Brien, Deputy Director of AMBER. It consists of collagen and
hydroxyapatite, components native to bone, formed into a 3D porous
‘scaffold’ which acts as a bone graft substitute.  Bone cells and
blood vessels ‘cling’ to the scaffold, allowing for new tissue

This bone repair technology (known as HydroxyColl) will be brought to
market by RCSI spin out company, SurgaColl Technologies.  Regulatory
approval for human use is forecast in the coming months and
implantation in patients suffering from large bone defects planned
this year.

Speaking at the event, Damien English, local Meath West TD and
Minister for Skills, Research and Innovation said “It has been a very
successful first year for AMBER, this exciting technology is another
example that shows that Irish research is at the leading edge of
material science worldwide.  Material science underpins a wide range
of market opportunities that have the greatest potential to deliver
economic return through enterprise development and employment growth
in Ireland. I congratulate Professor O’Brien, his team and
collaborators at AMBER for this breakthrough solution that could have
real application in the veterinary sector and which could ultimately
improve the lives of thousands of people also.”

The first clinical use of the HydroxyColl was on a 2 year old
thoroughbred filly Annagh Haven that had a large swelling in her jaw
caused by a complex aneurysmal cyst.  As a result of the cyst, the
bone in the filly’s jaw was at risk of fracture and she was unable to
chew adequately. The outcome is generally poor for aneurysmal cysts
and euthanasia of the animal often necessary.

The procedure was carried out by Dr. Florent David at University
College Dublin’s Veterinary Hospital who removed the cyst and
implanted sheets of the scaffold. The procedure has enabled repair of
the bone tissue followed by restoration of normal bone shape and
function.  Since surgery, the horse, Annagh Haven, has returned to
racing and has won or been placed in 6 of her races to date.

Visit to Science Foundation Ireland Ireland

Funding, Science

Today, Thursday 15th January, as Minister for Skills, Research and Innovation, I visited Science Foundation Ireland HQ at Wilton Park House to join Professor Mark Ferguson in launching SFI’s review of 2014 and outlining of plans for 2015.

You can see coverage and commentary of the event on the RTE website below…

It’s clear that 2014 was a very productive and busy year for the agency and that 2015 promises to be equally so for SFI, the research community and for your industry partners.

We have begun the process to put in place a new Government strategy for science and technology for Ireland.

The Government continues to be focused on implementing the Action Plan for Jobs. Integral to this, is building upon the major achievements and investment in scientific research we have realised over the past decade.

A key element of SFI’s strategic plan – Agenda 2020 is the investment under the SFI Research Centres programme, which has to date seen an investment of €355 million in Government funding and which has attracted €190 million commitment in industry funding.

The scale of investment in the SFI Centres programme, along with continued support through Budget 2015, is evidence of the Government’s commitment to supporting science, technology and innovation in Ireland, and to helping our academic institutions and researchers to leverage funding to attain additional funding streams.

These 12 SFI Research Centres of scale and excellence have multiple industry partners including both multinational companies and SMEs. They are focused on strategic areas of importance to Ireland – Pharma, Big Data, Medical Devices, Nanotechnology/Materials, Marine Renewable Energy, Food for Health/Functional Foods, Perinatal Research, Applied Geosciences, Software, Digital Content, Telecommunications and Medical Devices etc.

By establishing a collaborative research ecosystem with a focus on excellence and impact, we are also positioning Ireland’s researchers to compete effectively for EU funding, through Horizon 2020 research programme.

As you will be aware, this is a €1billion research fund that Irish researchers, institutes and enterprises can target.

We have a good track record in this space, having secured €600 million in funding through Horizon 2020’s predecessor FP7. However we are now more ambitious – and I’m pleased to see that SFI’s plans are geared towards supporting the delivery of these targets.

I was particular pleased to see the numbers applying, being short-listed and securing funding from European Research Council programmes increasing – the success in the Starting Grants at the end of last year was very positive.

I am delighted to see that SFI has a suite of programmes to support researchers at different stages for their career – from early career researchers to large scale centres. The recent renewal of the partnership with the HRB and the Wellcome Trust was also a positive for Ireland’s biomedical research community.

Having visited the BT Young Scientist Exhibition last week it is important that we continue to highlight the achievements of our researchers, explaining what they do for the public, as well as presenting research information in a tangible, attractive and engaging way.

We are making inroads in this regard. In this year’s Leaving Certificate results, there were 27% of students sitting higher level maths and significant increases in the numbers of students opting for science, technology, engineering and maths linked courses.

First preference applications to Science courses in 2014 increased by almost 8%; engineering also rose to 3,215 applications and technology courses rose to 13,608 applications.

I know that the Smart Futures programme managed by SFI Discover will be working with partners in industry and HEIs to encourage more young people to look at STEM career options.

Five researchers receive funding to examine potential for new biotherapeutic breakthroughs under the SFI-Pfizer Biotherapeutics Innovation Award programme

Research and Innovation, Science

Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) today announced funding of €1.9 million in a partnership with leading international pharmaceutical company Pfizer to encourage new biotherapeutic research in Ireland. Supported by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise, and Innovation (DJEI), the SFI-Pfizer Biotherapeutics Innovation Award programme provides qualified academic researchers with an opportunity to deliver important potential discoveries in the areas of immunology and rare diseases. Five proposals in four academic institutions in Ireland have been identified to receive funding as part of the programme.

Researchers from Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin, the Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland, and NUI Maynooth will have the opportunity to work with the Pfizer Global Biotherapeutics Technology (GBT) group, including at the Pfizer site at Grangecastle in Dublin. Their research will focus on the development of the next generation of potential protein therapies for diseases including haemophilia, fibrosis, Motor Neurone Disease, psoriasis, and Crohn’s disease.

Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation, Mr. Damien English TD, Minister for Skills, Research and Innovation, Professor James O’Donnell, Trinity College Dublin and Dr. William Finlay, Director of Global Biotherapeutics Technologies, Pfizer

Commenting on the announcement, Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland said, “At the heart of SFI’s Agenda 2020 strategy is the funding of excellent scientific research that may impact both society and the economy. Innovative partnerships between industry and academia are crucial if we are to continue to share knowledge that could lead to the development of new medical breakthroughs. This collaboration with Pfizer will enable the blending of expertise from five leading Irish academic researchers with Pfizer’s drug discovery and development capabilities and could help deliver significant, accelerated advances in critical areas of biomedical research.”

Dr. William Finlay, Director of Global Biotherapeutics Technologies, Pfizer, said, “At Pfizer, we recognise that key to delivering potential therapies for patients is collaborating with other innovators in the health ecosystem in unique ways. Seeking the best research and with flexibility in how we partner, we are more focused on identifying, developing, and securing innovation in creative ways such as our collaboration with SFI. By establishing and fostering partnerships with academic thought leaders through SFI, it is hoped that we can help to accelerate the development of innovative biotherapeutic concepts for patients with unmet medical needs”.

The recipients of the SFI-Pfizer Biotherapeutics Innovation Award and research areas are:

  • Professor James O’Donnell, Trinity College Dublin – Professor O’Donnell’s research focuses on the discovery of a therapy for Haemophilia A, an inherited disease which results in uncontrolled bleeding. It is hoped that the therapy will improve patients’ quality of life and improve disease management.
  • Professor Padraic Fallon, Trinity College Dublin – Professor Fallon is seeking to develop a therapy that will modify the immune response to prevent fibrosis or scarring of organs after an immune attack, which can occur from diseases including asthma, cystic fibrosis, Crohn’s disease, and liver cirrhosis.
  • Professor Jochen Prehn, Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland – Motor Neurone Disease is a devastating and fatal neurological condition with no cure. Professor Prehn’s research is focused on developing a new therapy that it is hoped will increase patients’ lifespan and motor function, leading to an increase in quality of life.
  • Professor Paul Moynagh, NUI Maynooth – Uncontrolled inflammation causes diseases like Crohn’s disease, psoriasis, and rheumatoid arthritis. Professor Moynagh’s research programme aims to develop potential new drugs that may treat some of these currently incurable inflammatory diseases.
  • Professor Martin Steinhoff, University College Dublin – Professor Steinhoff’s research focuses on severe skin diseases caused by inflammation, for which he hopes to develop a new therapy that targets the immune response.