Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) is working together with Government Departments and other agencies (IDA Ireland, Enterprise Ireland, Health Research Board, Irish Research Council and others), and the wider research and innovation community to ensure a coordinated and meaningful contribution to solving some of the challenges we are presented with during the current Covid-19 crisis. 

To this end, we have developed a Five Point Plan which represents SFI’s contribution to the Irish Government’s National Action Plan in response to Covid-19. The plan outlines key activities where SFI believe we and the research community can make a positive impact.

Importantly, the Health Service Executive (HSE) and The Office of the Chief Medical Officer are the entities responsible for managing all activity in relation to Covid-19. The SFI Five Point Plan presented here is structured to support their activities.

SFI has reviewed national and international literature to keep abreast of the latest developments and innovations relating to Covid-19. We have built a portal of information on national and international funding sources (e.g. EU, Wellcome, etc.), ongoing research projects, and links to sources of scientific information such as publications and journal articles. These three portals will no longer be routinely kept up-to-date. Instead, we have provided you here with a list of key information sources in order to provide links to the most important current information on Covid-19:

Information Sources

Ongoing Research

Funding Opportunites

Other Resources

Recognising that often the first step to innovation is to understand the problem in detail, SFI will use our team’s experience in challenge-based funding to create the structures that will enable stakeholders to come together and develop clear definitions of the most pressing problems relating to Covid-19. 

Supply Chain

The National Supply Chain Academic Network (NSCAN) was formed in response to the COVID-19 crisis to support businesses from a supply chain perspective. As a group of experts, who have researched and advised companies all over the world for the last 30 years, they want to work with companies and businesses based in Ireland to provide their expert knowledge and tools to ensure continuity of supply and development of resilience and agility.

National Supply Chain Academic Network

Contact Tracing

Another aspect of problem curation that SFI is focusing on relates to Contact Tracing. To understand better the issues and requirements associated with contact tracing, SFI with a panel of experts are working closely with relevant stakeholders to help address these. The members of the expert panel are:

  • Prof Noel O’Connor, Director at Insight SFI Research Centre for Data Analytics and Professor in the School of Electronic Engineering, DCU.
  • Prof Vinny Wade, Director at ADAPT SFI Research Centre for Digital Media Technology and Professor of Computer Science, TCD.
  • Dr Brendan Jennings, interim Director at Connect SFI Research Centre for Future Networks & Communications and Head of Graduate Studies, WIT.
  • Dr Jim Buckley, PI at Lero Irish Software SFI Research Centre and Senior lecturer in Computer Science and Information Systems, UL.

Research and Innovation, in health, academia and industry, have a significant role to play in the national and global response to COVID-19. Consequently, the Government’s main research and innovation agencies have developed a coordinated Rapid Response Research and Innovation programme to help mitigate and manage the COVID-19 pandemic by unlocking the potential of Irish based researchers and innovators to join the global efforts.

This coordinated response is comprised of two complementary strands. Having two focus areas allows for sufficient specialisation and coordination while optimising available resources.

  • The first focus area targets medical countermeasures, health service readiness, and social and policy countermeasures to COVID-19. This is led by the Heath Research Board (HRB) and the Irish Research Council (IRC) and details of the call can be found here.
  • The second focus area is an agile and adaptive initiative to combine the capabilities of industry and academia in the development of innovative solutions that can have a rapid demonstrable impact on the current COVID-19 crisis in Ireland. Please see details relating to eligibility both in the Call guidance and FAQs and please note that this fund from SFI/EI/IDA will be provided for RD&I funding support only. Any solution supported under this call must be operational and fully deployed within 6 months of project start. Eligible applications will be reviewed by international reviewers. This is led by SFI, Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland and details of the call can be found here

By leveraging our connections across the broad research community SFI will assist in connecting experts, innovators and equipment across the country from academia to industry. This is a critical element in the national effort to develop innovations and solutions to Covid-19. This will include leveraging the critical expertise, capabilities and infrastructure that exists within SFI Research Centres (e.g., data analytics, epidemiology, supply chain logistics, medical device and pharmaceutical manufacturing, online learning) in delivering innovative solutions to urgent problems. For information contact covid19@sfi.ie

Working collaboratively together across the research and innovation ecosystem is particularly important now to enable effective engagement, optimise limited resources and avoid duplication. We are stronger together and SFI will work closely with our colleagues in other funding agencies and the broader public system to get the best possible outcomes for Ireland. For information contact covid19@sfi.ie

A key area of focus for the future will be to take the lessons learned during the Covid-19 crisis and use them to improve future rapid responses to pandemics or threats of pandemics.