Cross-Border Research and Development Funding Programme – “Strengthening the All-Island Research Base”
In June 2008, the Department for Employment and Learning invited Queen’s University Belfast and the University of Ulster to submit proposals for developing and/or strengthening links with research groups in the Republic of Ireland through collaborative research which is socially and economically relevant to Northern Ireland and to the island as a whole.
The objectives of the programme were two-fold:-
- To provide assistance to the Northern Ireland Universities to enable them to build additional and sustainable research capacity and capability that will contribute to the development of the “All Island Research Infrastructure” through meaningful and appropriately targeted collaboration with leading research teams in the Republic of Ireland.
- To contribute to the economic and social development of Northern Ireland, and the island of Ireland as a whole, through the funding of projects which support the Northern Ireland Executive’s priorities as expressed through:-
- the Programme for Government (PSA 1 “Productivity Growth”, Objective 1.5 “To develop and sustain a Higher Education research sector that holds a strong position within the UK and beyond and makes a major contribution to economic and social well-being”)
- the Economic Vision of Northern Ireland as a high value-added, highly skilled, innovative and enterprising economy which enables the region to compete globally, leading to greater wealth-creation and better employment opportunities for all - particularly through the driver of “Increasing Investment in R&D and Promoting Innovation/Creativity” as set out in Section 3 of the Vision
- the Regional Innovation Strategic Action Plan 2008 - 2011 (Key Objective 1.1 - “Ensure that Northern Ireland is playing its full role in the UK, all-island, European, and global innovation arenas”)
The programme envisaged five outcomes:-
- NI Universities having increased access to complementary research infrastructure and investments in the Republic of Ireland, including those made under the PRTLI initiative or via SFI. This should enable the NI Universities to increase external research grant income without the need for investment in new physical resources
- Enhanced Republic of Ireland Universities’ access to NI research infrastructure and investments
- The creation of ‘split site’ studentships that will develop increased research collaboration and further embed cross border research partnerships within the partner institutions
- The leverage of further research collaboration with high quality research centres internationally, including those in the United States through the US-Ireland R&D Partnership
- Increased benefits/outcomes for Northern Ireland’s innovation agenda
The proposals were considered by an Assessment Panel consisting of representatives from Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland stakeholders.
In 2008, the Employment and Learning Minister announced that ten project proposals had been approved for funding totaling approximately £14.5m over 2½ years to end of March 2011. This was supplemented on 15th December by a further two projects totaling just under £3M. These additional projects were announced as part of the Northern Ireland Executive's response to the economic downturn.
A total of 12 projects were supported by the programme. Departmental funding for the programme concluded on March 31 2011. A review of the programme to assess its effectiveness, and the sustainability of the twelve projects going forward, will be completed during 2013.
Evaluation of Strengthening the All-Island Research Base programme
In 2013, the Department undertook an Evaluation of the “Strengthening the All-Island Research Base” Programme.
- Strengthening the All-Island Research Base Programme Report
- Strengthening the All Island Research Base Programme Appendices
Following an open tender, the evaluation was undertaken by RSM McClure Watters, overseen by a Steering Group consisting of officials from the Department for Employment and Learning.
The evaluation provides the Department with an objective assessment of the efficiency, effectiveness, value for money and impact of the Strengthening the all-Island Research Base programme, as well as of the need for future investment in north/south research.
The final report was cleared for publication by the Employment and Learning Minister, Dr Stephen Farry, in August 2013.
The evaluation report was very positive regarding the performance of the programme. In terms of sustainability, this success of the programme has been built on by the sustaining and/or creation of new research and links with other Republic of Ireland institutions.
Further information can be obtained from:Boyd McDowell
HE Research Policy Branch