Tuesday, 17 December 2019

Ceisteanna (310)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

310. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the funding allocated to the programme for research in third-level institutions in each of the years 2010 to 2018 and to date in 2019; the amount subsequently expended in each year; the funding allocated in 2020; the funding ring-fenced for frontier research in 2020, in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [53289/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

The Programme for Research in Third-Level Institutions (PRTLI) was launched in 1998, with five cycles of expenditure to-date.  The Programme is designed to facilitate Ireland’s Higher Education Institutions to produce world class research in key strategic areas including bioscience/biomedical; medical technologies; energy, environment and marine; food and drink; social sciences and humanities; ICT and advanced communications and platform technologies and materials.   

The PRTLI has supported the provision of top-class research infrastructure (buildings, laboratories and cutting-edge equipment) as well as human capital development, through Structured PhD/Emergent Technology programmes across Ireland’s Higher Education Institutes (HEIs).   My Department took over responsibility for the PRTLI in May 2010, from the Department of Education and Skills. The Higher Education Authority (HEA) continues to administer Cycle 5 of the Programme on behalf of my Department.  

The allocations and amounts expended on the PRTLI in the years 2010 – 2019 are set out in Table A, with some increases in funding due to Supplementary Estimates (as detailed below).  The full amount allocated in the Department’s Vote under the Programme for Research in Third-Level Institutions is expended within the year.  The PRTLI allocation for 2020 is €24.72m.  

Table A - PRTLI funding 2010-2019

Year

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

2019

Allocation €m

49.9

57.9

54.7

45.2

39

55.5*

30.4**

26.4***

18.3****

26.299*****

*2015 allocation included a Supplementary Estimate of €23.5m in December 2015

**2016 allocation included a Supplementary Estimate of €20m in December 2016

***2017 allocation included a Supplementary Estimate of €12m in December 2017

****2018 allocation included a Supplementary Estimate of €4m in December 2018

*****2019 allocation included a Supplementary Estimate of €1.999m in December 2019  

While there is no specific allocation within the PRTLI for frontier research, Innovation 2020 committed to establishing a new programme of funding for frontier research across all disciplines. The Irish Research Council (under the Department of Education and Skills) launched the Frontier Research Programme or Laureate Awards in April 2017 with an initial fund of €2.5 million, to support researchers to undertake project-based frontier research and to develop as Principal Investigators. A total of €29.6 million was subsequently announced for investment by the Irish Research Council in “frontier research” projects in March 2018, with a further €11.8 million announced in April of this year.

As in previous years, the 2020 PRTLI allocation of €24.72 million is being used to part pay outstanding bills for PRTLI Cycle 5 projects.  It also funds vital shared infrastructure essential to the third level research sector, including part payment of an annual subscription for e-Journals.  E-Journals funding provides Irish based scientists online access to a wide range of leading international scientific journals and is a necessary tool to enable them to conduct their own research. E-Journals formed part of the transfer of functions between my Department and the Department of Education & Skills as decided by Government order in May 2010.

In addition, some of this money will be used to allow for dedicated funding for PhD/Research Masters enrolment through the Centres for Research Training.  This programme is administered by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) and will fund postgraduate enrolments in disciplines under their remit. This initiative accords with the action in Innovation 2020 to increase postgraduate researcher enrolments, in disciplines aligned to enterprise and national needs.  The first intake of 126 CRT students commenced in September 2019.

In 2018, my Department and its agencies were responsible for the largest proportion of Government investment in R&D at €364.8m or 47.6% of total Government Investment.  Other Departments also provided funding for research and development across sectors. The Department of Education and Skills had an R&D outturn in 2018 of €202.3m or 26.4% of total Government Investment in R&D while the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine invested €106.2m or 13.9% in 2018.  Overall Government funding of R&D in 2018 was €765.7m and represents an increase of 3.6% over the outturn figure for 2017. Government investment in R&D includes funding for programmes that encompass all disciplines and all types of research.