"Government university funding has fallen
dramatically and the rules by which SFI funds individual research
scientists have drastically altered." writes David McConnell, BA, PhD, MRIA, member of the European Molecular Biology
Organisation, fellow emeritus, Smurfit Institute of Genetics, Trinity
|Photo: Irish Times|
In making competitive research grants SFI focused on originality and excellence. The research was expected to be relevant to the economy but not to be concerned with short-term job creation. In spite of some limitations – regrettably it was restricted to research related either to biotechnology or information and computer technology but the connections were in practice very loose – SFI was exemplary by international standards. It took about 10 years but the result was that Irish science gradually became respected internationally. As a measure of international recognition outstanding non-Irish scientists began to apply in significant numbers for positions in Irish universities, encouraged by the prospect of winning competitions for valuable SFI grants on the basis of the merit of their research proposals, and impressed that they would be judged entirely by their international peers.