Science Foundation Ireland has welcomed news of the final and biggest ever set of calls for proposals for research under its Seventh Framework Programme.

The European Research, Innovation and Science Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn announced a total of €8.1 billion to support projects and ideas that will boost Europe's competitiveness.

The funds will also be used to tackle issues such as human health, protecting the environment and finding new solutions to growing challenges linked to urbanisation and managing waste.

The funding - which is open to organisations and businesses in all EU member states and partner countries - makes up most of the EU's proposed €10.8 billion research budget for 2013.

"This announcement comes at a buoyant time for science in Ireland as the European science community converges on Dublin for European Science Open Forum and Dublin City of Science 2012,'' said SFI's director general Professor Mark Ferguson said

''Ireland has a truly global scientific reach and is extending its scientific reach and influence. I expect the research community in Ireland to compete strongly for and avail of this new source of funding leveraging from the investment received through SFI,'' he added.