Jul 13, 2021

€3.2m in Funding Announced for UN Sustainable Development Goals Research

The funding, in partnership with Irish Aid, will go towards developing solutions to major international problems such as poverty and lack of access to education.

Mairead MaguireNews Editor

Minister for Higher Education Simon Harris and Minister for Overseas Development Colm Brophy have announced €3.2 million in funding for research to advance the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The funding, in partnership with Irish Aid and the Department of Foreign Affairs, aims to support academic researchers to develop solutions that contribute to the SDGs.

In a press statement today, Harris said: “I am delighted to announce the new Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) SDG Challenge here today in collaboration with my colleagues in the Department of Foreign Affairs through Irish Aid.”


SDGs are a new set of goals and numeric targets adopted by 193 UN member states. The goals are intended to shape policy which in turn will improve the lives of citizens and the state of the world.

“This is a challenge-based prize funding programme that seeks to support Ireland’s best and brightest to develop novel technologies to address significant societal challenges.”

“Today it is about addressing development challenges under the UN SDGs in Irish Aid’s partner countries”, Harris said. “Achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals lies at the heart of Ireland’s international development policy, A Better World, and our aim with this challenge is not to solve but to reduce the challenges we face in every country, by working together.”

The current SDG Challenge will focus on addressing global challenges related to SDG 3, “ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all at all ages”.

Research teams are called on to develop solutions to health and well-being, including infectious diseases, non-communicable diseases, health systems strengthening, maternal and child health, sexual and reproductive health, and mental health.

It will also support solutions in related areas such as malnutrition and water sanitation, where a clear impact on health and wellbeing can be demonstrated.

In a press statement, Brophy said: “Innovation and research in healthcare saves millions of lives each year, based on science. We have seen over the past year, with the roll out of COVID vaccines, a very tangible example of the power of scientific research in the healthcare space.”

“I am delighted that the SDG Challenge fund will support Irish researchers to work with researchers in Irish Aid partner countries to develop new, innovative technologies which can help people live safer, healthier lives.”

Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland said that challenge-based funding is “of high strategic importance to Ireland”.

“As part of our strategy, ‘Shaping our Future’, we are committed to supporting researchers to deliver tangible benefits for society in all aspects of life.”

“SFI is delighted to launch this new challenge in partnership with Irish Aid, and I look forward to seeing the high calibre of innovative thinking and solutions that are presented in the areas of health and well-being as a result of this SDG Challenge Programme.”

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