Minister Harris announces €65 million fund to address green transition and digital transformation

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris TD has launched a €65 million fund to drive solutions to the green transition and to digital transformation.

The National Challenge Fund consists of eight challenges, three in digital transformation and five in green transition.

The first two challenges are now open for proposals:

2050 Challenge – To develop transformative, forward-looking solutions for Ireland to become climate neutral by 2050; and
Future Digital Challenge – To address the challenge from disruptive digital technologies.

Announcing the National Challenge Fund, Minister Harris, said: “I am delighted to announce the €65m National Challenge Fund.  

“These areas are among the greatest challenges our country and our world faces. This fund will help each and everyone us by navigating the best way forward.

“When we launched our new strategy Impact 2030, I outlined the need to put research and innovation at the heart of addressing Ireland’s social, economic and environmental challenges. The National Challenge Fund is a tangible example of this strategy in action. 

“I encourage everyone to consider the 18,000 submissions put forward by the public as part of Creating Our Future as we want to respond to issues that matter to people.

“Challenge teams will be interdisciplinary with scientists, engineers and researchers working together with government bodies to develop solutions to problems of national importance, partnering with stakeholders to develop, test and trial solutions.”

The National Challenge Fund is an initiative under the Government’s National Recovery and Resilience Plan, funded by the EU’s Recovery and Resilience Facility and managed by Science Foundation Ireland.

Commenting on the new National Challenge Fund, Ciarán Seoighe, Deputy Director General, Science Foundation Ireland, said: “We are delighted to have this new funding made available under the EU’s Recovery and Resilience Facility. We look forward to working in partnership with government departments and agencies to define the challenges and help to build partnership with the wider research community to develop research solutions to these challenges.”

“This is an exciting and rewarding opportunity for research teams to work in partnership with stakeholders to provide solutions to tangible problems that will benefit our society and economy.” 

Teams will be provided with additional opportunities to grow and scale their activities with opportunities for follow on funding in future phases, ranging from €500k to €2 million for the most competitive teams.

Each challenge incorporates four stages. The model of the competition means that researchers will receive increasing funding at each stage of the process. Research teams and ideas will be evaluated by an independent, international panel of experts. Awards for each phase will be made from 2022 to 2026.

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