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EU Structural Funds

The European Regional Development Fund is one of two Structural Funds used by the European Union (EU) as a means of reducing the differences in living standards between the people and regions of the EU. The other Structural Fund for the 2000-2016 period is the European Social Fund (ESF). The ESF is the European Union's primary financial instrument for improving employment opportunities for people throughout the Union. The ESF channels money into helping Member States meet the goals they have agreed for educating and training people throughout Europe through the European Employment Strategy.

The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) concentrates on promoting economic and social cohesion within the European Union through the reduction of imbalances between regions or social groups through infrastructural investments.

Investments under the ERDF in Ireland for the 2007-2013 period will be delivered through Operational Programmes managed by the Southern and Eastern and Border, Midland and Western  Regional Assemblies. The Operational Programmes set out a development strategy, including a coherent set of priorities to meet the objectives of the Regional Operational Programmes.  An example of the priorities are:

 Priority 1: Innovation, ICT and the Knowledge Economy

 Priority 2: Environment and Risk Prevention

 Priority 3: Urban Development and Secondary Transport Networks

 Priority 4: Technical Assistance

Three HEA managed programmes namely the Research Equipment Renewal Grant (RERG), the Research Facilities Enhancement Scheme (RFES) and the Programme for Research in Third-Level Institutions (PRTLI) Cycles 4 and 5 fall within the 2007-2013 operational programme under Priority 1 mentioned above.  See the table below.

PRTLI is managed by the HEA on behalf of the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (DJEI).  PRTLI enables the further development of the national research infrastructure and postgraduate education. The Programme funding is underpinning research infrastructure, top-class research teams, postgraduate education enhancement initiatives including graduate schools and support collaborative national initiatives in order to optimise the returns from research investments.   

As all RERG, RFES and  PRTLI projects are co-funded under the ERDF they must adhere to all ERDF regulations.

Two eligible regions in Ireland with Objective 2 status

•Border-Midlands and Western (BMW) region
•South and East (S&E) region

Ireland is eligible to claim €376 million of ERDF funding between 2007 and 2013. This is broken down between the regions as follows:


•€229 million - BMW Region



•€147 million - S&E Region

Within the HEA the schemes that are ERDF co-funded are: 

•PRTLI Cycles 4 and 5 (current & capital elements)
•Research Equipment Renewal Scheme 2007
•Research Facilities Enhancement Scheme 2008
The National Strategic Reference Framework is Ireland's contract with the EU.


This framework is delivered through two Regional Operational Programmes for the BMW & S&E regions, respectively

•BMW Operational Programme
•S&E Operational Programme



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