New research and innovation funding agency announced

Taighde Éireann - Research Ireland follows merger of Science Foundation Ireland and Irish Research Council

The biggest overhaul of Irish research funding in 20 years will culminate next year in the establishment of Taighde Éireann – Research Ireland, it has been confirmed.

The new research and innovation funding agency, created under the Research and Innovation Bill 2023, will mark the merger of Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) and the Irish Research Council (IRC).

Announcing the official name of the agency on Thursday, Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris said the legislation would be published in coming weeks.

The agency’s name “has the clarity and impact needed to communicate the mission of the new agency effectively, both at home and further afield”, he said. “[It] will deliver enhanced added value and ambition as part of the wider research and innovation system.”


“Researchers can be reassured that there will be no interruption to ongoing services and funding programmes while the new agency is being set up,” Mr Harris said.

“The creation of Taighde Éireann – Research Ireland offers the opportunity, as outlined in Impact 2030, to place all research areas on an equal and statutory footing and to drive a step-change in interdisciplinary research,” said Prof Philip Nolan who was appointed as chief executive designate of the new agency in May.

“The agency will be building on the recognised strengths of the IRC and SFI, but will also be a cornerstone of a more connected and ambitious research and innovation system for Ireland,” he said.

The new agency will fund research and innovation excellence in all disciplines across the spectrum of arts, engineering, humanities, mathematics, science, social sciences, technology and others, the Minister said. The legislation places arts, humanities and social sciences research on a statutory footing for the first time.

Establishment of the agency in statute ensured parity of esteem for the IRC’s critical mission of supporting researchers at all career stages, Prof Nolan said. “In making competitive funding awards across all disciplines and of varying sizes, the agency will significantly broaden the access of researchers in all areas to an improved range of research funding programmes.”

Kevin O'Sullivan

Kevin O'Sullivan

Kevin O'Sullivan is Environment and Science Editor and former editor of The Irish Times