Minister for Skills, Research and Innovation, Damien English TD today announced funding of €2.9 million for a new research project at University College Cork (UCC) which will develop a technology for airborne monitoring of the Earth’s atmosphere on a global scale. Delivered by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, through Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), the funding is part of SFI’s Strategic Partnership Programme and includes a significant contribution from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany. The project will run for three years as an integral part of Europe’s solution to global atmospheric monitoring through the observation platform CARIBIC. It will create research positions at UCC.
Along with world-class experts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA) in Boulder, Colorado, Dr. Albert “Andy” Ruth, Senior Lecturer in Experimental Physics at UCC and Prof. Johannes Orphal, Head of the Institute for Meteorology and Climate Research at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology will develop ultra-sensitive instrumentation for the detection of reactive trace gases in the upper troposphere, the region of the atmosphere where most of the international air traffic takes place. The technology will be deployed in a fully automated container on board Lufthansa Airbus A340-600 and will operate on regular flights to more than 20 different destinations worldwide including cities in East Asia, South Africa as well as North and South America.
Commenting on the research, Minister for Research, Skills and Innovation Damien English TD said, “Government policy – through the Action Plan for Jobs and SFI’s Agenda 2020 – aims to encourage research partnerships with industry and other sectors, to create the commercial opportunities and jobs of the future. Irish researchers are collaborating with academic and industry partners from around the world, to develop solutions to real-world, current problems. This collaboration has a knock-on benefit for society and the economy both in Ireland and worldwide. I commend Dr. Ruth and his colleagues and wish them the best for their endeavours.”
Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland, also welcomed the announcement and said, “SFI is focused on building strategic partnerships which fund excellent science and bring it from the lab and into the market. Initiatives like the Strategic Partnership Programme help researchers to leverage State funding to garner maximum investment from key partners such as industry. In turn, partners benefit from access to some of the best scientific expertise available. The benefit is mutual, and significant.”
Dr. Albert Ruth said, “We are proud that through the recognition of UCC’s expertise in ultra-sensitive trace gas detection by SFI we will be given the opportunity to deliver solutions for some of the most challenging problems in global atmospheric sciences. Teaming up with our world-class partners in Karlsruhe and Boulder, we will form a “triangle of excellence” for the development of cutting edge optical monitoring technology with the potential for further commercial exploitation and for the economic benefit of Ireland.”
The SFI Partnership Schemes aim to provide a flexible mechanism by which SFI can build strategic collaborations with key partners such as industry, funding agencies, charities, philanthropic organisations or higher education institutes (HEIs) with the goal of co-funding outstanding opportunities. The schemes will co-fund projects or people (for a limited time) to aid development and retention of talented researchers, foster industrial collaborations and develop capacity in areas of current and emerging economic importance.