Special Reports
A special report is content that is edited and produced by the special reports unit within The Irish Times Content Studio. It is supported by advertisers who may contribute to the report but do not have editorial control.

How Ireland’s centres of excellence are sparking new ideas in research and development

Centres such as Adapt and Lero are raising the standard of Irish research, development and innovation

Research and development (R&D) in Ireland is a delicate balancing act between academia, industry and State funding that helps society through problem solving and solution development. A core part of the strength of R&D in Ireland is the fostering it engenders through the centres of excellence dotted throughout the country.

There are centres of excellence focusing on research, development and innovation (RDI) in multiple sectors, from ICT to nanotechnology to medical devices and much more, such as Adapt, a Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) research centre for AI-driven digital content technology based in Trinity College Dublin, and Lero, Europe’s first e-sport science research lab, co-funded by industry and SFI, which investigates how software and technology can “impact, serve or help us understand a person’s physical and mental condition, and performance”.

In addition, Lero wants to establish Irish software to such a standard that it enters the lexicon in the same way that “German automotive” or “Scandinavian design” is, and a core objective is to establish a software ecosystem in Ireland that can create wealth and jobs.

Ciarán Seoighe, SFI’s deputy director general, says that the 16 SFI research centres across Ireland are “‘virtual centres recognising that we have distributed excellence in Ireland. We recognise that different pockets of expertise might exist in different universities. To really compete on the world stage we pull these into these virtual research centres that then help Ireland punch above its weight in each of these fields represented by the 16 research centres.”


He says that it is imperative that “we move beyond thinking that the researchers’ peers are in the next universities, but understand that they’re possibly in the next country. We need think about an international stage rather than more nationally.”

Edel Corrigan

Edel Corrigan is a contributor to The Irish Times