The State's two main research funding bodies are to be amalgamated as part of a new national strategy for research and innovation.

The Irish Research Council, which is the largest competitive funder of research in the Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences as well as other disciplines, is to be merged with Science Foundation Ireland, which funds research in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

In what is a central plank of a new three-year strategy, the two bodies will be merged with a view to improving coordination of funding activities, achieving administrative efficiencies, and simplifying the suite of supports available to researchers.

New legislation, in the form of a new research bill, will be needed to create this new statutory research and innovation funding body.

The strategy also states that the amalgamation will allow for "greater interdisciplinary" in research carried out in Ireland.

It says the new agency "will support the full range of research disciplines, working collaboratively with other research funders and enterprise, nationally and internationally".

The plan envisages placing research and innovation at the centre of the country's response to challenges such as climate action and digital transformation.

It says the Covid-19 pandemic highlighted how different research fields can come together to transform ideas into impact, and it provided an opportunity for closer partnerships between research funders.

Full details of the new strategy will be announced later this morning.