PRTLI Cycle 5 – a broad outline

All credit to the government, and to the Taoiseach and the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation in particular: this is a very significant investment in the state’s R&D capacity. Details can be found here. The total investment in this cycle is going to be €358,729,000. In the context of the current economic climate, this is a courageous and entirely correct policy decision. Also to be welcomed is the fact that around €260m of that will be capital investment, which is where the most urgent needs are now to be found.

As this morning’s report in the Irish Times indicated, the biggest winners are Trinity College Dublin and University College Dublin, but most universities received strong support, including DCU: all our key proposals have been supported with significant funding. Some institutions may not have received what they were hoping for, but it seems to me that the overall balance is not distorted.

A more detailed analysis will follow later today, where I shall in particular look at the content of the successful proposals and consider how that may help Ireland’s drive to be recognized as an innovation hub.

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11 Comments on “PRTLI Cycle 5 – a broad outline”

  1. cormac Says:

    Yes, it’s very encouraging. I was also pleased to see WIT made the list more than once, as did DIT and CIT!

  2. Perry Share Says:

    Great, unless you’re a social scientist. No danger of anyone being funded to ask awkward questions about the direction of Irish society, inequality, social sustainability or social justice. But great for the scientists, number crunchers and the computer heads! Of course these fields are also the key beneficiaries under SFI, so a double serve of chocolate ice-cream.

    • iainmacl Says:

      no bitterness there then, Perry. 😉 What’s stopping you asking awkward questions about social inequality? Do you need a 50 million euro building to do it?

      You’ll note that some of the funds are for Arts, Humanities and Social Science research and colleagues here in NUIG are delighted about that funding.

      • Perry Share Says:

        I’m not bitter! – as I wasn’t actually part of the application. I can actually do my own research – such as it is – without funding, but if you are a potential research student in the social sciences in Ireland the future does not look good.

        Equally, I could ask what is stopping the biotech and nanotech industries from raising their own funds if they are such a key element of future development. Presumably a venture capitalist or 2 would be able to see the potential?

        The recent TASC lecture by Professor Kathleen Lynch (link available at does raise some interesting questions as to why social science in Ireland does not attract any significant amount of state funding.

        Ironically it is undergraduate students in the social sciences, arts and business that provide the bulk of the cash flow to Irish HEIs to allow them to subsidise the relatively unattractive and expensive science and technology areas!

        C’est la vie!

    • kevin denny Says:

      An Economics & Politics PhD program (joint UCD/TCD) got €3m.

  3. Vincent Says:

    sorry, your link is blind

  4. Vincent Says:

    Anyway, I’m a bit lost.
    Over this last twenty years there has been vast amounts tipped into Capital within the University, all of them. And unless you lot in Dublin have a vast warren under the City, you have found a hole for it some place. For the reality is the moneys of that good man Chuck Freeney, moneys that could have fed one or perhaps two narrow world class departments were dissipated into a nothingness.
    If I was looking from the UK, USA or China, today. I would thing a bunch of half-arsed fools playing games. Who gives a good hurrah about our rankings if you have nothing to rank beyond money. Or to put it another way, Swift, Berkeley, Stoker, Beckett & Wilde are all from TCD. Do the current Seven say themselves outside of those Names when selling.
    Since 1850 in the National University there has been one or twenty in the science area. Even Callan did his bit with the electrics at the P.U. Maynooth.

    Just what is this Capital investment, is this what normal people call rent. Or are the Universities attempting to burrow their way someplace or other. Perhaps the repository. Or are we building an Atomic powerstation, something worthwhile.
    I do wish you lot would quit flying accounting shite as if you had an OxBridge land grant. This especially since the University of Dublin was established without the actual land, the first to be done in this way.

    • Vincent, I’m not altogether sure I follow what you are saying. If you are suggesting that the money spent on research has been wasted, then maybe ask the IDA who will tell you a very different story: much of what they attract these days is based on the research performance of Irish universities.

      Capital investment, on the whole, means buildings.

      • Vincent Says:

        What I’m saying is how many more building can you possibly require. Surely this money would be better spent on the research.
        And given that NAMA has a few buildings on its books I suspect if you asked nicely they might loan you a few.
        Why is it when we think about doing something our first instinct is to reach for the concrete mixer.

  5. Al Says:

    With a serious amount of our industrial rental stock available, would it make sense to kit out existing facilities on or off campus, so that work can begin asap?
    Working in industrial estates might also facilitate spillover or transfer of research?

  6. iainmacl Says:

    remember this isn’t ‘free’ money. It’s associated with matched funding from other sources obtained by the institutions/researchers and with links to appropriate companies and organisations. Much of it is badly needed to build on the work that has been done in recent years which has led to a higher output of publications and other metrics (if you’re in to that)

    So, much as I share cynicism about the knowledge economy and I do wish more was spent in other areas beyond these, in fact as Ferdinand points out, this is a significant boost to the sector in the midst of some really shocking economic conditions. The work here creates jobs for graduates (renewing contracts of many staff whose livelihood has been at risk) and indeed in the construction sector and ancillary support services, so it is worth considering that there might be just one or two little glimmers of good news in there? Or am I too naive to see that 300milion euro investment in at least part of the HE remit is actually a disaster?


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