Higher education international research

The Higher Education Division within the department is currently providing funding for Northern Ireland universities to participate in the following International Research Programmes:

  • The US-Ireland Research and Development (R&D) Partnership
  • The Science Foundation Ireland (SFI)-DFE Investigators Programme Partnership (2014 and 2015 Calls)
  • The SFI Covid-19 Rapid Response Rapid Response Call – Phase 2

US - Ireland R&D Partnership

The US-Ireland R&D Partnership has its origins in the US-Ireland Business Summit that took place in Washington, DC in 2002.

The US-Ireland R&D Partnership is a tri-jurisdictional alliance which was officially launched in 2006. Its aim is to promote collaborative innovative research projects which create value above and beyond individual efforts.

Through the Partnership, the Governments of the United States of America, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland support collaborative research with the potential to generate valuable discoveries and innovations which are transferable to the marketplace or will lead to enhancements in health promotions, disease prevention and healthcare.

The “US-Ireland R&D Partnership” helps link scientists and engineers in partnerships across academia to address crucial research questions and to expand educational and research career opportunities in science & engineering.

The Government Departments and Agencies across the three jurisdictions supporting this initiative are:

Thematic areas 

The following thematic areas have been prioritised as important research challenges for the health and prosperity of the citizens of the United States, Ireland and Northern Ireland:

  • Sensors and Sensor Networks
  • Nanoscale Science and Engineering
  • Telecommunications
  • Energy and Sustainability
  • Cybersecurity
  • Health
  • Agriculture 

How the Partnership operates

The Partnership is guided by a joint Steering Group composed of senior representatives from government and academia across the three jurisdictions. Secretariat for the Partnership is provided by InterTradeIreland.

Under the US-Ireland R&D process, the Partnership facilitates university researchers to submit joint research proposals in the identified priority areas. As part of this funding process, the governments (and/or relevant government research agencies within the Partnership) contribute to the costs of researchers based in their jurisdictions. All proposals submitted under the auspices of the Partnership must have significant research involvement from researchers in all three jurisdictions. Excellent science is considered fundamental and this is ensured by utilising the competitive peer review systems of the US National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which are gold standards for quality in scientific peer review.

In Northern Ireland:

For further details of pre-approval and submission procedures, please see the guidelines on the website of the relevant funding agency.  

Successful US-Ireland projects (led by Principal Investigator)

A list of approved projects for 2018 and 2019 is provided below:

2019 Principal Investigator Led Projects

2019 Principal Investigator Led Projects

Ref No

NI  PI

NI HEI

Title

Value £ (project duration) 

USI 140

Doctor Miryam Arredondo Arechavala

Queen’s University Belfast

Engineering deterministic electron correlations and topological states in site-controlled III-V quantum droplets (EDTOQ)

£ 298,866 (over 3 years)

USI 150

Dr Hamza Shakeel

Queen’s University Belfast

Enabling next generation integrated optoelectronics with free-form metamaterials based on graphene

 

£ 299,991 (over 3 years)

2018 Principal Investigator Led Projects

2018 Principal Investigator Led Projects

Ref No

NI  PI

NI HEI

Title

Value £ (project duration) 

USI 127

Professor Jorge Kohanoff

Queen’s University

Belfast

Thermoelectric Concrete Envelope (ThermoConc)

£ 299,716 (over 3 years)

USI 134

Doctor Michail Matthaiou

Queen’s University Belfast

Transcoding: A New Approach for Multi-Hop Communications

£ 299,429 (over 3 years)

USI 132

Professor Andrew Mills

Queen’s University Belfast

Emerging Materials for Energy storage and environmental Research enabled through Atomic Layer Deposition, (EMERALD)

£ 271,833 (over 3 years)

USI 130

Professor  Helen McCarthy

Queen’s University Belfast

Non‐Viral Delivery of Genetic Cargo on Biomaterial Scaffolds for Bone Regeneration

£ 295,655

(over 3 years)

USI 137

Doctor Ulrich Ofterdinger

Queen’s University Belfast

Urban ARK: Assessment, Risk management and Knowledge for coastal flood management in urban areas

£ 297,474 (over 4 years)

US Ireland R&D Partnership - Centre to Centre Agreement

Under the associated US-Ireland R&D Partnership Centre to Centre agreement, the National Science Foundation (NSF) and its partner organisations Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) and the Department for the Economy Northern Ireland (DfE NI) have developed a mechanism to link SFI-funded Research Centres, NSF-funded Engineering Research Centres (ERCs) and researchers in academic research centres in Northern Ireland.

This opportunity, building upon previous individual investigator driven collaborations between US researchers and colleagues in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, seeks to build Centre-based research collaborations.

As Northern Ireland does not have large scale Research Centres like the NSF and SFI Research Centres, the Department will assess Northern Ireland (NI) applications on a case by case basis. Depending on the volume of applications received, the Department may have to prioritise which applications can be supported based on the greatest potential benefits to the NI economy.and may restrict the number of awards to one Center to Centre award at a time.

How to apply

Downloadable forms and FAQs  are available at:

Successful Centre to Centre US-Ireland projects

A list of approved Centre-to-Centre projects for 2018 and 2019 is provided below:

2019 Centre to Centre Projects

2019 Centre to Centre Projects

Ref No

NI  PI

NI HEI

Title

Value (project duration) £

USI 146

Professor Davide Mariotti

University of Ulster

International Collaboration on Advanced Photovoltaics:  Manufacturing and Indoor Power Applications

£ 299,350 (2 years)

2018 Centre to Centre Projects

2018 Centre to Centre Projects

Ref No

NI  PI

NI HEI

Title

Value (project duration) £

USI 139

Dr Darragh McArt/ Prof Mark Lawler

Queen’s University

ECHO-SENS: Externally Charged CardiOvascular bioSENSors

£ 299,902  (4 years)

Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) - Department for the Economy (DfE) Investigators Programme Partnership pilot

In 2014 the Department and SFI announced a ground-breaking collaboration which allowed NI universities to participate as full academic partners in SFI’s prestigious "Investigators Programme". The Collaboration Agreement covered the 2014 and 2015 calls only.

The "SFI/DfE`s Investigators Programme Partnership" is supporting collaborative projects involving universities from both jurisdictions to undertake internationally peer reviewed, leading edge, discovery and fundamental research.

Approved projects under the 2014 Call started in August 2015, approved projects under the 2015 Call started in August 2016 and February 2017. The projects are due to finish from late 2020-2022.

SFI/DfE projects funded 2014 and 2015

A list of approved projects funded in the 2014 and 2015 call is provided below:

SFI/DfE Investigators Programme 2015 Call Projects

SFI/DfE Investigators Programme 2015 Call Projects

Ref No.

NI

Principal Investigator (s)

NI HEI

Award Title

NI funding

 (£)

15/1A/2881

 

Mark Emmerson, Jack Lennon

Queen’s University, Belfast

Biodiversity, resilience and food security: understanding the role of biodiversity in maintaining food production

714,261

 

15/1A/3152

 

Amy Jane McKnight, Peter Maxwell

Queen’s University, Belfast

Discovery of an integrated risk profile for chronic kidney disease and development of a clinical biomarker panel for personalising medicine

948,969

 

15/1A/3028

 

Paulo Prodohl

Queen’s University, Belfast

Wild farmed interactions in a changing world: formulation of a predictive methodology to inform environmental best practice to secure long-term sustainability of global wild and farm fish populations

821,169

 

15/1A/3160

 

Ivana Savic, Jorge Kohanoff

Queen’s University, Belfast

Thermoelectric efficiency of IV-VI and V2 –V13 materials driven near phase transitions

644,535

 

15/1A/3136

 

Alan Stitt

Queen’s University, Belfast

Combinatoral Cell Therapy for Diabetes-related critical limb ischaemia

451,077

 

15/1A/2864

 

Mauro Paternostro

Queen’s University, Belfast

Quantum Control of Nanostructures for Quantum

Networking (QuNaNet)’

836,198

 

15/1A/3058

 

Neill Hewitt

 

University of Ulster

Energy storage and demand-side flexibility within future electricity markets

633,044

SFI/DfE Investigators Programme 2014 Call Projects

SFI/DfE Investigators Programme 2014 Call Projects

Ref No.

NI Principal Investigator (s)

NI HEI

Award Title

NI funding

 (£)

14/1A/2549

 

Dr Keith Farnsworth

Queen’s University, Belfast

Creating the knowledge for precision fisheries management: spatially aware ‘nudging’ to achieve Maximum Sustainable Yield using real time fisheries incentives

415,055

14/1A/2646

 

Professor Chris Elliott

Queen’s University, Belfast

Metabolomic and array based biomarker approaches to understand human exposure to potent carcinogenic fresh water toxins

463,190

 

14/1A/2474

 

Professor Dimitrios Nikolopoulos

Queen’s University, Belfast

Meeting the future challenges of heterogeneous and extreme scale parallel computing

521,947

14/1A/2582

 

Dr Daniel Longley

Queen’s University, Belfast

Development of personalised medicine approaches for the clinical application of IAP antagonists in metastatic and high risk early stage colorectal cancer

637,289

 

14/1A/2559

 

Professor Gavin Andrews

Professor David Jones

Queen’s University, Belfast

Development of Fixed dose combination products using Advanced Pharmaceutical Processing Technologies

535,682

14/1A/2304

 

Professor John Dalton, Professor Aaron Maule

Queen’s University, Belfast

Application of New and Emerging Technologies to Develop Vaccines against Fasciola hepatica

 

      545,291

 

14/1A/2371

 

Dr John McGrath

Queen’s University

i-PAD: Innovative biological phosphate (bioP) and anaerobic digestion (AD) technology for waste treatment, energy, and phosphorus recovery

        380,168

 

SFI Covid-19 Rapid Response Call – Phase 2

In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, DfE provided funding to allow Northern Ireland (NI) universities to collaborate with colleagues in the Republic of Ireland where they make a successful joint bid to the SFI Rapid Response Funding Call - Phase 2.

Launched on 30 June 2020, the SFI call represents an important opportunity for local researchers to make a significant and immediate contribution to tackling the hugely demanding and unique range of medical-related, societal and economic challenges posed by this latest strain of Coronavirus.

A total of 7 projects involving NI partners were successful at the international peer review stage. These will be funded for approximately 5 months until end of March 2021. These are listed below:

SFI Covid-19 Rapid Response Call – Phase 2

Ref No.

NI PI

NI HEI

Award Title

NI Funding (£)

QUB 03 (20/COV/8362)

Dr Connor Bamford

Queen’s University

DELAY-COVID: Dysregulated innatE immunity in Liver disease Amplifies the severitY of COVID-19

£25,000

QUB 05

(20/COV/8511)

Professor Alan Stitt

Queen’s University

New Approaches to Understanding Blood Vessel Dysfunction in COVID-19 Patients

£49,497

QUB 08

(20/COV/8566)

Professor Cecilia O’Kane

Queen’s University

Markers of adipose tissue and systemic inflammation in obese and non-obese patients with COVID-19

£77,716

QUB 09

(20/COV/8549)

Professor Danny McAuley

Queen’s University

Biological profiling in COVID-19 infection to characterise optimal therapeutic approaches

£77,716

QUB 10

(20/COV/8556)

Professor Brendan Gilmore

Queen’s University

COVID-19 and the environment: Plasma-enabled fogging for safe and effective surface decontamination

£39,583

UU 01

(20/COV/8555)

Dr Victoria McGilligan

University of Ulster

InflaTMP: Design of a novel combination anti-inflammatory and anti-viral biotherapeutic for COVID-19 targeting the NLRP3 inflammasome and TMPRSS2

£366,915

UU 07

(20/COV/8581)

Professor Tony Bjourson

University of Ulster

COVREs: Understanding the Host-Virus Response in Patients with Mild versus Serious Disease

£354,637

Further information

In the first instance, prospective NI applicants should contact the respective Research Office at Queen’s University or Ulster University.

Department for the Economy

Higher Education Research and Knowledge Exchange branch
Email: usireland@economy-ni.gov.uk
Telephone: +44 (0)28 90257637

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