Minister Harris announces 22 innovative projects to be funded under Human Capital Initiative 

Maura O'Shea

By Maura O'Shea

Posted: 5 October, 2020

Books and money coins in the glass jar zoomed by the magnifying glass on blurred natural green background

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris, T.D. has today announced 22 projects are to be funded under the Human Capital Initiative. 

The projects include the use of virtual laboratories in higher education, a new hub to upskill the building sector on green construction, and the establishment of Creative Futures Academy to support digital and screen culture, cinema, literature and broadcasting, art, design, and fashion.  

Innovative methods of teaching and delivery will be promoted on these projects, so that learners will benefit from improved quality and more engaging ways of learning on enterprise-focused courses, providing lifelong learning and upskilling opportunities for all. 

Human Capital Initiative Pillar 3, Innovation and Agility is the final Pillar to be announced and commands a total budget of 197 million over the 5-year period, 2020 to 2024 

Minister Harris said: “I am delighted to be able to announce the broad range of projects that will be funded under the HCI Pillar 3. 

“These projects will develop and change teaching and learning. This global pandemic has reinforced the need for us all to be agile and diverse.  

“Crucially though it requires us to develop new skills and equip the next generation with the critical importance to the economy and the workplace of the future.” 

Higher Education Authority CEO, Dr Alan Wall, has congratulated all of the Higher Education institutions receiving funding under the HCI scheme. 


“It is great to see the culmination of this process as it represents hundreds of hours of work by the Higher Education Authority working with the Higher Education institutions and our international panel.” 

HCI Pillar 3 will deliver 22 projects in higher education institutions, 17 of which involve collaborations between institutions.  


Notes for Editor: 

Background to Human Capital Initiative:  

Announced as part of Budget 2019, the primary objective of the Human Capital Initiative (HCI) is to underpin the provision of additional capacity across the Higher Education Sector to meet priority skill needs for enterprise. It represents an additional investment of €300m (€60m per annum from 2020 to 2024) from the surplus in the National Training Fund in line with recommendations contained in the independent review of the National Training Fund on the use of the surplus and the development of labour market skills.  


The HCI will also incentivise continued reform and innovation in third level provision, building on best practice nationally and internationally, strongly supporting innovation in programme design and delivery. It aims to future proof graduates and ensure that there is a greater focus across the whole spectrum of Higher Education course provision on promoting and embedding transversal skills.   


The Human Capital Initiative consists of 3 pillars: 

Pillar 1: Graduate Conversion and Specialisation Courses 

Pillar 2: Additional Places on Undergraduate Provision  

Pillar 3: Innovation and Agility 


Pillar 3: Innovation and Agility  

Human Capital Initiative Pillar 3, Innovation and Agility is the final Pillar to be announced and commands a total budget of €197 million over the 5-year period. The initiative will support innovative and agile proposals from institutions or groups of institutions with potential application and impact across the higher education system. The proposals will align innovation and agility with national strategic objectives, key system objectives for the higher education system, and future skills needs for society and the economy. 
Through the projects recommended under this pillar, it is intended that innovative methods of teaching and delivery will be promoted, so that learners will benefit from improved quality and more engaging ways of learning on enterprise-focused courses. The capacity of institutions to anticipate, understand and respond to emerging skills needs of enterprise will be increased, together with the ability of institutions to provide lifelong learning and upskilling opportunities for all.  

The projects approved under HCI Pillar 3 were selected by a panel of experts with national and international expertise following a competitive tendering process.  



The below table outlines the projects approved for funding  under HCI Pillar 3: 

HEI Lead Institution  Title of Application  Collaborative Education Partners  Funding allocated 
Institute of Technology Tralee  REEdI– Rethinking Engineering Education in Ireland   UL, CIT  € 8,952,142 
Institute of Technology Sligo  HigherEd 4.0:   Enabling agile responsiveness from Higher Education  GMIT, LYIT  € 12,381,848 
Technological University Dublin  CONVENE: Transforming university-enterprise engagement for a new…  UCD  € 17,531,944 
Technological University Dublin  GROWTH HUB:   WIT  € 3,496,384 
National University of Ireland, Galway  Next Generation Graduates    € 7,570,127 
National College of Art & Design  Creative Futures Academy:   IADT, UCD  € 10,018,526 
Waterford Institute of Technology  Strengthening and Protecting the Funds Industry in Ireland  CIT, State Street, BNY Melon  € 2,048,180 
University College Cork  Sustainability in Enterprise: Delivering a Low Carbon Future   IT Sligo, MU  € 3,913,440 
Cork Institute of Technology  CYBER-SKILLS  UL, TUD, UCD, ITRALEE  € 8,128,623 
Dublin City University (IUA)  Towards a Multi-Campus Micro-Credentials (MC2) system  DCU, MU, UCC, TCD, UCD, UL, NUIG  € 12,252,374 
Institute of Technology Carlow (IUA and Thea)  Realising the potential of recognition of prior learning and lifelong learning in Irish higher education  ITC, CIT, DKIT, TUD, LIT, GMIT, AIT, LYIT, ITS, WIT, UCC, TCD, UL, NUIG, DCU,MU, UCD, THEA, IUA IADT ITT  € 6,904,176 
University of Limerick  UL@Work      € 16,297,375 
University College Cork  The iEd Hub: Holistic education for enterprise, with enterprise in Healthcare and Biopharma  CIT  € 8,728,936 
Waterford Institute of Technology  AMASE:  Additive Manufacturing Advancing the South East     IT Carlow & Industry Partners  € 2,152,349 
Maynooth University  Virtual Laboratories in higher education as an innovative pedagogical tool  AIT, DKIT, UCC, DCU  € 2,971,700 
Dublin City University  DCU Futures – A radical restructuring of the DCU Undergraduate Curriculum    € 19,917,668 
Limerick Institute of Technology  Digital Academy for Sustainable Built Environment (DASBE)  AIT, GMIT, TEA, IGBC  € 7,503,106 
Institute of Technology Carlow  Centre for Insurance, Risk and Data Analytics Studies (CIRDAS)  LYIT  € 1,725,343 
Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland  Enabling Future Pharma ‘Beyond the Pill’    € 7,835,086 
Trinity College Dublin  Next generation teaching and learning for the changing needs of society and enterprise    € 21,011,362 
University College Dublin  The ADVANCE Centre for Professional Education  IT Sligo, TUD  € 14,070,668 
Institute of Technology Carlow  Postgraduate Certificate in Innovative Materials for Industry 4.0  DCU  € 2,568,083 


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