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Minister Harris, Secretary of State Donelan and Permanent Secretary Godfrey announce €70 million for research centres

Minister Harris, Secretary of State Donelan and Permanent Secretary Godfrey announce €70 million for research centres

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris TD and Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology Michelle Donelan and Permanent Secretary at Northern Ireland’s Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, Katrina Godfrey have today announced €70 million in joint funding to create two new research centres.

The funding will bring together academics, industry and policymakers across the Irish Government, UK Government and Northern Ireland Government Departments to collaborate on common challenges such as food sustainability and climate change.

The announcement was jointly made by Minister Harris and UK Government Secretary of State Donelan ahead of their attendance at the British and Irish Intergovernmental Conference and a bilateral discussion at Farmleigh House, Dublin, this afternoon.

Welcoming the announcement, Minister Harris, said:

“Addressing climate change and achieving sustainable and resilient food systems are intertwined challenges facing us all.

“This investment in two new collaborative research centres is a major development in addressing these pressing issues in a coordinated and concerted way.

“I’m delighted to see the very best minds and methods being brought together to create a dynamic research network across Ireland, Northern Ireland and Great Britain.”

UK Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology Michelle Donelan said:

“As I know from my own family links, UK and Ireland share deep ties – and in today’s fast-moving world, we share many of the same challenges, too.

“From our groundbreaking international work on AI, to our deal to join Horizon, the UK is determined to seize the opportunities for growth and prosperity that can be delivered, when we work together on science and tech with our neighbours.

“By bringing together the genius that exists across our islands, we will unlock the new ideas and inventions that will help us secure our food chains and tackle climate change, delivering innovative solutions for global good.”

Katrina Godfrey said:

“The Co-Centres programme is an excellent example of Government funders working in partnership to support researchers and industry who will undertake cutting-edge research in areas of mutual economic, societal, health and environmental importance.

“I am particularly pleased that researchers in Northern Ireland will be integral to the establishment of these Co-centres.”

The Co-Centres programme is funded over six years, with up to €40 million from Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) (supported by the Department of Further, Higher Education, Research Innovation and Science and the Irish Government’s Shared Island Fund), up to £17 million from Northern Ireland’s Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) and up to £12 million through UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), and is co-funded by industry.

The two new Co-Centres will formally commence activities on 1st January 2024, and will be funded to 2030.


The Co-Centres programme takes forward an Irish Government commitment in the Programme for Government and under the New Decade, New Approach Agreement to establish all-island research and innovation hubs, working with partners in Northern Ireland and at UK.

The Co-Centres programme is in line with DFHERIS Statement of Strategy to re-position Ireland globally as a leading knowledge economy with a skills and innovation focus and as a leader in higher education and research, deepening collaboration on an all-island and East West basis, and also builds upon the successful SFI Research Centre model.

Overview of Co-Centres

Co-Centre for Climate + Biodiversity and Water:

Vision: To be a home of research, innovation, and policy development across the interlinked challenges of climate change, biodiversity loss, and water degradation. This will be achieved through research to enable fair transformations to Net Zero, reverse biodiversity loss, restore water quality and ensure resilience for communities and a sustainable economy.

Number of research performing organisations: 14

Number of researchers: 64

Leadership Team: Prof. Yvonne Buckley, Trinity College Dublin, Prof. Mark Emmerson, Queen’s University Belfast; Prof. Ed Hawkins, University of Reading

Co-Centre for Sustainable and Resilient Food Systems:

Vision: To develop innovative and transformative solutions to transition the food system for positive and sustainable change in the transition to climate-neutrality by 2050. In order to address specific challenges centred around food system integrity and resilience, food safety and healthy diets from sustainable sources, the Co-Centre proposes to undertake a research programme across 4 platforms – Sustainable Food, Food Safety and Integrity, Nutrition and Health, and Food Systems Data Modelling. End-to-end solutions from soil-to-society will be developed and showcased.

Number of research performing organisations: 15

Number of funded researchers: 68

Leadership team: Prof. Eileen Gibney, University College Dublin; Prof. Aedin Cassidy, Queen’s University Belfast; Prof. Louise Dye, University of Sheffield.