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Publicly-Funded SFI Research Centre Worth €1bn to Irish Economy

Insight, the SFI Research Centre for Data Analytics, launched an economic report that highlights its value to the Irish economy at €1.1bn, building on ten years of public investment of €80m, supported through Science Foundation Ireland (SFI). 

The Centre, which is hosted across Dublin City University, University College Cork, University College Dublin and University of Galway, specialises in research in data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI), including sensors, data engineering and governance, human computer interaction, smart cities, climate AI and digital health.

Welcoming the report, Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris TD, said, “I congratulate the Insight SFI Research Centre for its significant impact on the Irish economy and society. This report demonstrates the importance of the Government’s policy of establishing and continuing to invest in the world-leading SFI Research Centre Network, supporting research excellence and scale in areas of strategic national importance. Seeking value from big data, the Centre provides innovative technology solutions for industry and society, which enable better decision-making, and promotes the ethical use of AI and analytics technologies to improve the world we live in. In our increasingly digital world, this is helping us to create a better tomorrow for all citizens.”

The report outlines Insight’s economy-wide impact, estimated at 5.54 times that of Insight’s own direct economic activity, with a total economic impact of €1.108bn. With over 400 researchers actively involved in the Centre, Insight has produced 1,087 research alumni over the last ten years.

Prof Phillip Nolan, Director General of SFI, joined in the celebration of the Centre’s success, saying, “the Insight SFI Research Centre has a strong track record of generating high quality research and supporting world-class talent. Alongside its work in education and public engagement to promote digital wellbeing, the Centre has trained the next generation of data scientists and attracted over €100m in additional investment from industry and EU sources, further highlighting the value of publicly funded research to the Irish taxpayer.”  

Prof Noel O’Connor, CEO of the Insight SFI Research Centre, added, “in 2013, Insight was established as a national research endeavour, co-led by multiple HEIs, at a scale of undertaking never before attempted in Ireland. As these figures demonstrate, this has proven a resounding success for Irish research, the economy and most importantly the taxpayer. This is thanks to the collaborative ethos and the collective vision of our excellent scientists; ably supported by a shared national research management infrastructure. It demonstrates that a small nation like ours can punch above our weight by committing to the maxim that we are better together.”

More key figures from the report:

  • The Centre has signed 219 Collaborative Research Agreements involving 146 companies; 73 located outside Ireland.
  • Insight has spun out 14 companies; accounting for 6 per cent of all spin-outs from Research Performing Organisations in Ireland; which employ over 170 workers and have attracted €413m in investment.
  • Insight has collaborated with over 150 companies, from project-based engagements to multi-year multi-site research programmes.
  • Annual funding received by the Centre has tripled from just under €8m in 2013 to €24.2m in 2022.
  • Insight have directly funded 238 graduated Masters/PhD students and are currently supporting 141 PhD/Masters students. The Centre has directly employed 216 Postdoctoral researchers/research Fellows, 52 of whom are still in Insight.

Source: Science Foundation Ireland

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