New Chair of Researchers' Association is from DIT

28th September 2003

The Irish Research Scientists' Association (IRSA) has elected John Donovan of DIT as its incoming Chair. John, who will take over the position from Fiona Regan of DCU, is Head of Innovation and Industry Services in DIT's Faculty of Applied Arts.

IRSA is an association of active, professional researchers in Science, Engineering, Technology and Medicine in Ireland. Established ten years ago, it has a membership of 700, 10% of whom are based overseas.

As incoming Chair, Dr. Donovan said the biggest issue for the IRSA now is the development of a framework for the sustainable funding of research into the future to enable longterm planning for research to be put in place. "Research in Science and Technology in Ireland has been funded on a boom/bust cycle, with gains made during a boom being eroded in a bust. This creates a credibility for Irish funders, and makes long-term planning at national and individual levels very difficult, or indeed impossible."

The IRSA is lobbying for the development of a 'National Research Trust' based along the lines of the Pension Reserve Fund and many other types of research trust around the world. According to Donovan, "The notion is very simple - income generated from the trust goes to fund the national R&D effort and the future growth of the Fund. This type of Fund is very commonly used to fund research in other countries and by many philanthropic foundations."

A national workshop is currently being planned by the IRSA on funding mechanisms in order to develop a common strategy across all R&D performers and funders. In seeking support for its objectives, the Association points to its previous successes in the establishment of a national science council (Irish Council for Science Technology and Innovation); the maintenance and expansion of the Basic Science Programme; realistic grants for postgraduate students; and the PRTLI programme.

Dr. Donovan also emphasises that IRSA welcomes new members and engagement with all interested parties - see for more information and background.

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