€3.5Bn Spent by Science Foundation Ireland on Research

Numbers of Projects Funded In Each SFI Scheme

Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) has just released data on some 6000 research projects led by 118 organisations funded over the last 20 years. It’s a grand total of €3.5Bn awarded in that time. The data is at https://data.gov.ie and has been made available in csv, xl and pdf formats. It runs from 2002 to April this year. I’ve attempted an initial description of the data here.

The first thing to note is that the funding is spread over 64 different schemes. In a nice demonstration of Pareto’s Law (aka the 80/20 rule) 20% or 13 schemes (first 13 from left of the above chart) account for just over 76% of projects.

Value of Projects Funded In Each SFI Scheme

Looking at the data by monies awarded on each scheme, we end up with a different ranking of different schemes but again a top 13 (or 20 % of all) schemes account for 84% of the spend.

Proportion by University of €3.4Bn of SFI Spend on Projects Led by a University

Looking at the 118 organisations listed as leading an award from SFI, there is a great deal more concentration still. Here, some 9 institutions lead almost 5300 of the 6000 projects that are worth €3.4Bn – the majority of the funding. However, this is not to say that these are the institutions that consume the funding. Instead, they are the lead institution in what may be a consortium of research performing organisation and companies. For example, the single largest category of spend is to be found in the SFI Research Centre Programme (almost €900M to date). For instance, in the case of the INSIGHT Centre, helmed by DCU’s Prof. Noel O’Connor, the lead university is listed in the dataset as NUIG. However, the monies flow to the centre partners from the lead university to allow the research at each site take place. In the case of INSIGHT, this includes DCU, UCD, TCD and others. As such, this facet of the dataset is likely a reflection of the fact that universities can manage large, complex projects and lead research consortia composed of several parties that undertake the research collaboratively.

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