800 Researchers involved in EPA research Programme of €68 million

Date released: Sep 13 2013

Mr. Phil Hogan T.D., Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government was presented with the report Environmental Protection Through Research at the ninth Environment Ireland Conference yesterday.  The report outlines the significant support that EPA-funded research has provided to environmental policy development and implementation through generating evidence and knowledge.  It also sets out the critical role that research plays in environmental protection through identifying pressures on the environment and developing novel solutions to complex environmental problems. 

The Minister took the opportunity to congratulate EPA Director General Ms. Laura Burke on her recent appointment to the Advisory Group for the EU Horizon 2020 Research Programme.

Speaking at the event, Ms. Laura Burke said:

"The Environmental Protection Through Research report captures the achievements derived from the EPA’s investment in environmental research. This investment has provided the evidence to help us to identify and tackle environmental challenges in the areas of climate change, water and sustainability while also creating opportunities for improved wellbeing and the Green Economy."

The key achievements of EPA research funding were identified as: 

  • The first comprehensive assessment of peatlands (bogs and fens) for Ireland, including evaluation of their value to our natural capital.
  • The development of a volcanic ash forecasting system arising out of the Icelandic volcanic eruption in 2010 and 2011.
  • Cost savings of up to €50m associated with greenhouse gas emission inventories.
  • The establishment of a “plug and play” wastewater treatment facility at Tuam, Co. Galway that is widely used by researchers and innovators.
  • Providing the platform for Irish environmental researchers to draw down over €46m to-date in European funding to compete in the forthcoming European Commission’s Horizon 2020 Programme for Research and Innovation estimated to be €71 billion.
  • The publication of over 100 reports and involvement of almost 800 researchers, of which approximately 250 environmental researchers are in full-time roles.

The appointment of Ms. Laura Burke, Director General of the EPA, to the Advisory Group for the EU Horizon 2020 Research Programme followed the screening of more than 15,000 candidates by the European Commission.  Ms. Burke will serve on the Advisory Group for Challenge 5 'Climate action, environment, resource efficiency and raw materials'.

The report is available to download from the EPA website.


Notes to Editor:

The EPA research programme for the period 2007-2013 is entitled Science, Technology, Research and Innovation for the Environment (STRIVE). The purpose of the programme is to protect and improve the natural environment by addressing key environmental management issues through the provision of world-class scientific knowledge generated through a vibrant, competitive programme of research developed supported and co-ordinated by EPA.
The Programme is structured around three pillars:

  • Climate Change
  • Water   
  • Sustainable Environment.

Since 2007, the EPA has supported 490 research projects which have a value of over €68 million ranging from desk studies to large interdisciplinary projects and including small-scale awards, travel grants, individual scholarships and fellowships. The breakdown of these awards is shown in Table 1.

Table 1.  Summary of projects awarded in the period 2007–2012.

Project Type Number of Projects AwardedCommitment (€)
Large Research Projects (>€100k)  162 53,364,156
Direct Scholarships (PhD + MSc)  107 7,756,010
Desk Studies and other projects (€10k-€100k)  78 5,300,680
Small-Scale Awards, travel grants, etc. (<€10k) 130 382,315
Infrastructure Awards 13 1,560,357
Total 490  68,363,518

Note that an additional 45 scholarships were awarded under the ‘large research project’ category and are accounted for there in the table above.

Ireland’s Environmental Researchers and Framework Programme 7

The Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) is the EU’s main instrument for funding research and development which runs from 2007 to 2013. There are a variety of funding mechanisms in FP7 (e.g. individual fellowships, infrastructural awards and collaborative research projects). The research programme that is of most relevance to environmental researchers 1 is Thematic Area 6 entitled “Environment, including Climate Change” which has a budget of €1.9bn.

Irish environmental researchers from both the public and private sectors actively participate in and compete successfully for European funding. To date our envi-ronmental researchers have been successful in over 100 projects to the value of approximately €46m across the entire EU FP7 research programme. It is important to note that much of the capacity that enables this competitiveness can trace its origins to sustained investment in environmental research from national sources including the EPA’s STRIVE Programme.

This short brochure showcases some highlights associated with participation to date by Ireland’s environmental researchers across FP7.

Horizon 2020

Horizon 2020 is the new EU research/funding programme which will run from 2014 to 2020 with an indicative budget of €71bn. It includes three key research areas: (i) better society, (ii) excellent science, and (iii) industrial leadership.