Tanaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Mary Harney TD, said on Thursday that the projects, which will investigate matters such as data transmission, semiconductor lasers and bowel disease, have been approved by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) with EUR32 million to be paid to them over five years.
Six of the awards, totalling over EUR17 million, have been awarded to researchers investigating ICT. Seven other recipients, who will specialise in biotechnology-related fields, received an allocation of almost EUR15 million. Just over half of the researchers who were granted funds will come from outside of Ireland, with the remainder of the funding to be received by scientists already based here.
The two biggest awards will go to Professor David Parnas and Professor Chris Dainty, who both work in the ICT area. The amounts awarded to the professors were not disclosed.
Professor Parnas is one of the world's leading researchers in software engineering and is re-locating from McMaster University in Ontario, Canada to carry out his research at the University of Limerick. He will be investigating the development of mathematical models, methods and tools to help create reliable and robust software.
Professor Dainty, a major figure in optics, will move from Imperial College in London to the National University of Ireland in Galway to work on his research project which looks at how new optical imaging techniques can be used in areas such as eye surgery and digital cameras.
The new research programmes will be carried out at five Irish research bodies -- four at University College Dublin, three each at Trinity College Dublin and University College Cork, two at National University of Ireland Galway, and one at the University of Limerick.
"These eminent scientists are the future of Irish innovation and research, and through them we continue to build our greatest resource of all -- human talent," said the Tanaiste. "This is another important step for SFI that will pay enormous dividends for education, science, and industry in our country."
The Science Foundation Ireland, which is responsible for administering the EUR635 million Technology Foresight Fund, is currently funding research projects in Ireland to a total of almost EUR100 million.
The news of the funding comes a day after the government's commitment to R&D funding was questioned by ICT Ireland. The division of IBEC that represents the high-tech sector in Ireland said on Wednesday that Ireland ranks 22 out of 24 countries for R&D spend as a portion of GDP.
This issue however was addressed by the Tanaiste on Thursday in her speech to key business figures from the US and Ireland. She said that Ireland needed to change its economy to one based on a strong research ethic.
"We have became very good at making products invented and developed by others, but it is a strategy that will not sustain us into the future. We need to concentrate our resources on innovating and developing the ideas that will be at the heart of future products and services," said the Tanaiste.