Minister for Higher Education Simon Harris has announced that €5.5 million in funding has been awarded to 41 coronavirus-related research projects in Ireland.
Trinity researchers have been awarded a total of €940,447 to assist with projects related to vaccine design, virus tracking, robot-assisted ultraviolet disinfection and the psychological and social effects of coronavirus.
Of these researchers, Elaine Kenny received the highest value award of €286,075 for her project on rapid and adjustable population-scale diagnostics via Next Generation Sequencing (NGS).
Researchers from University College Dublin received €1,474,277, with Dublin City University and Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland receiving €707,697 and €284,588 respectively.
The projects awarded funding span a range of areas, including the development of coronavirus-resistant plastic, the home-monitoring of symptoms using smartphone apps and research into reducing the damage of personal protective equipment to the skin of the face.
Other projects will focus on the detection of coronavirus through research into saliva sampling and detecting the airborne virus in hospitals and airports.
In a press statement, Harris said that the virus will be with us for a “significant period of time”, and that research and innovation will play an important role in tackling it.
“The 41 projects announced today are part of a national drive to find solutions to the challenges we face now, and to help us prepare to live in a changing environment that requires new thinking and innovative approaches”, he added.
The projects come under the COVID-19 Rapid Response Research and Innovation Programme led by the Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), who have already invested €8 million in 17 projects since the beginning of the pandemic.
Prof Mark Ferguson, director general of the Science Foundation Ireland and chief scientific adviser to the government, commented on the awards: “The COVID-19 Rapid Response Research and Innovation funding is critical to supporting Ireland’s National Action Plan in response to the pandemic. The projects announced today will play a pivotal role in developing societal and economic solutions to challenges we face.”
“As a nation, we are stronger when we work together, and we will continue to generate solutions to the many challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic”, he added.
The programme was set up by SFI, Enterprise Ireland, IDA Ireland, the Health Research Board and Irish Research Council.