Irish scientists criticised over funding success rate

Wednesday 25 June 2014 21.26
Ireland's policy on science funding may be too heavily weighted towards research that yields jobs
Ireland's policy on science funding may be too heavily weighted towards research that yields jobs

The President of the European Research Council has said Irish scientists are not winning as much research funding from it as they should. 

Speaking at the Euroscience Open Forum in Copenhagen, Professor Jean-Pierre Bourguignon also suggested that Ireland's policy on science funding may be too heavily weighted towards research that yields jobs.

Funded by the European Union, the multi-billion euro ERC focuses on financing exploratory basic research that can lead to big new discoveries.

Two years ago, when the Euroscience Open Forum was held in Dublin, the then President of the council said Ireland could do better at winning its funding.

Last night at ESOF 2014 in Copenhagen, the new ERC President said Irish science is still not doing as well as one might hope.

He said Irish scientists are definitely doing a substantial amount of high level research.

But he said their success rate is not very big and is not proportionate to the amount of research they are doing, leaving room for improvement.

He said it may be that changes are needed to ensure the right and best people apply - something he will address when he visits Ireland in November.

But he also suggested that while Ireland's policy of prioritising research that yields jobs is there for good reason, it may be creating problems.

He said often basic science must be left to flourish before people move to exploit it to create jobs.