Schizophrenia, prison accountability, religious art, autonomous vehicles: Irish higher education institutions win record €173m in EU research funding

Maura O'Shea

By Maura O'Shea

Posted: 26 July, 2016

Irish Universities and Institutes of Technology have won a record €173m to date in EU Research Funding in new results announced by the European Commission. The research covers a wide range of issues facing society:  from schizophrenia to accountability within our prisons to religious minorities’ expression through art to public safety on our roads.  The funding is provided through the Horizon 2020 programme.  To date, Ireland has won a total of €274.7 million in funding for research projects from the H2020 programme.  The Higher Education system accounts for 63% of this, spread across 19 institutions.

Tom Boland, CEO of the Higher Education Authority, today congratulated the Irish higher education sector on its success in Horizon 2020, the European Union’s flagship research investment programme, observing,

Ireland’s higher education institutions continue to drive Irish success in EU research funding. Their performance reflects their research capabilities and the sector’s prioritisation of winning in Europe for Ireland. Our researchers’ ability to advance our understanding of critical themes will underpin Ireland’s growth and its active participation in shaping the Europe of the future.

The HEA provides a significant foundation investment via our core grant in developing and maintaining research capability in institutions to ensure that they can go out and win this type of international funding and it is fantastic to see the fruits of such investment reflected in this success.

While it is very welcome that an additional €79.2 m has been won by Irish industry, given that there is actually more funding in H2020 for industry, the HEA urges Irish business to fully grasp the opportunities offered.”

Case Studies:

Immune Response and Social Cognition in Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia, affecting 0.5-1% of the population, is ranked by the World Health Organisation as more disabling than paraplegia or blindness in 18-34 year olds. Current treatments, developed over 50 years ago, are only partly effective in treating this disability, and new treatments are lacking. To address this treatment impasse, this project aims to develop and test a novel immune based model of deficits in social cognition – the set of mental operations that underlie social interactions (e.g. emotion recognition, theory of mind) and strongly predict social disability in schizophrenia. By validating an immune based model of schizophrenia, this project has the potential to move beyond current (dopamine based) treatments, and suggest groundbreaking alternatives for understanding and treating social disability in this and other neurodevelopmental disorders.  National University of Ireland, Galway.

Prisons: the Rule of Law, Accountability and Rights

Prisons are places where considerable power differentials exist, and are unique sites for the expression of the values which underpin public and prison law. Systems to ensure that prisoners are treated fairly and that rights are upheld are essential to ensure that imprisonment is conducted in ways that are just and promote good order. These are fundamental principles of the ‘European’ way in penal policy and penal law. Existing accounts of the deployment of penal power overlook key elements of how accountability, the rule of law, and rights are experienced. The project will advance current judicial and legal conceptions of accountability, the rule of law, and fairness, by reference to how these concepts are experienced in practice, and examine whether and how they are distinctively ‘European’. The project will thereby support the creation of better penal policies and practices aimed at the protection of the rule of law and rights in the prison context. Trinity College Dublin

Creative Agency and Religious Minorities: ‘hidden galleries’ in the secret police archives in 20th Century Central and Eastern Europe

This project concerns the creative agency of religious minorities in the transformation of Central and Eastern Europe societies in the 20th century. It constitutes the first comparative research on the secret police archives in the region from the perspective of the history and anthropology of religion and offers a radical perspectival shift on the value and uses of the secret police archives away from questions of justice and truth to questions of creative agency and cultural patrimony. University College Cork

Autonomous Vehicles

Road accidents continue to be a major public safety concern, of which human error is the main cause. Intelligent driver systems that can monitor the driver’s state and behaviour show promise to increase our collective safety. However, such new technology comes with risks, and justifiable public concern. Two projects, VI-DAS and Cloud-LSVA, will not only progress the design of next generation autonomous vehicle technology, but will also address legal, liability and emerging ethical aspects. This research will contribute to reducing accidents, increasing economic growth, and stimulating more innovation in the autonomous vehicle area.

Globally prominent investigators at the University of Limerick’s Kemmy Business School (KBS) and School of Law have successfully secured two EU Horizon 2020 awards, which will facilitate joint industry-academic research in the area of autonomous vehicles. These two successful H2020 consortia, VI-DAS and Cloud-LSVA, will receive €11 million between them, and are comprised of 17 academic and industrial partners across seven EU countries, these include amongst others, XL Catlin’s insurance operations, Honda Research, Tom Tom, Valeo, IBM and Intel. University of Limerick

More: CEO of the Higher Education Authority, Institutes of Technology, Irish Universities, Schizophrenia, Tom Boland

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