The grants awarded, nearly €20 million in total, are named after Irish hydrographer Francis Beaufort, and will fund 141 researchers and students working in 5 research consortia, across 5 institutions.
A consortium of research groups from National University of Ireland, Galway, University College Cork and Queens University Belfast, led by the Martin Ryan Marine Science Institute, NUI Galway, secured a substantial €7.2 million for research in Marine Biodiscovery. 80% of living organisms are found only in aquatic ecosystems, yet little is known about their biochemical characteristics. The Beaufort Marine Biodiscovery Consortium will aim to develop a leading capability in the utilisation of marine organisms and materials for the production of drugs, advanced biomaterials and neutraceuticals in Ireland.
On receipt of the award Professor Michael Guiry, Director of the Martin Ryan Institute at NUI Galway, said: "Marine biodiscovery is a major opportunity for Ireland, particularly for the west of Ireland, which is one of the most biodiverse marine areas in the European Community, and we look forward to working with our partners in the Marine Institute in Oranmore, UCC, and Queen's University Belfast. The Government, and in particular the Departments of Communications, Energy & Natural Resources and Agriculture, Fisheries & Food have shown great foresight in funding this programme for 7 years under the SeaChange programme. Scientific innovation is indeed the key to unlocking economic success."
The Centre for Rural Transformation and Sustainability at NUI Galway secured €2 million for Marine Socio-Economic Research. The Beaufort Marine Award in Socio-Economic Research will establish for the first time in Ireland's history, the research leadership and capacity required to assess and quantify the economic, social and environmental value of our significant marine resources.
Professor Michael Cuddy, Director of the Centre for Rural Transformation and Sustainability at NUI Galway said: "This is a unique opportunity to address socio-economic issues important to the economic sector in Ireland which will underpin the SeaChange strategy."