€9 million joint investment announced for US-Ireland Research Programme

16 March 2022

Prof Neil Hewitt and Dr Supriya Chakrabarti are co-applicants on two Ulster University projects
Prof Neil Hewitt and Dr Supriya Chakrabarti are co-applicants on two Ulster University projects

Prof Neil Hewitt, Head of Belfast School of Architecture & the Built Environment. and Dr Supriya Chakrabarti, Lecturer in Mechanical Engineering, are co-applicants on two projects to have received awards through a €9 million investment announced for a US-Ireland Research Programme, with Ulster University being one of 16 collaborating institutions

A joint investment of €9 million has been announced through a tripartite research and development partnership between the United States of America (USA), Republic of Ireland (RoI) and Northern Ireland (NI), spanning 16 research institutions, including Ulster University.

The seven awards will support more than 14 research positions in the Republic of Ireland and 10 research positions in Northern Ireland for three to five years.

Ulster University is a co-applicant in two of the seven projects to have received awards.

The research projects receiving funding are in the areas of energy and sustainability, telecommunications and quantum networks, nanomaterials, optics and photonics; tissue engineering for tendon reconstruction; and sensor monitoring for water quality and peatlands.

The funding agencies involved in the awards being announced today are Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) in the Republic of Ireland; the National Science Foundation (NSF) in the USA, and the Department for the Economy (DfE) in Northern Ireland. The Health Research Board (ROI), the Health & Social Care R&D Division (NI) and National Institutes of Health (USA) have also been cofounding partners in the programme.

Prof Philip Nolan, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland welcomed the announcement, saying:

“I am delighted to congratulate all of the award recipients and their collaborators. These are world-class research projects, driving innovation with the potential to greatly benefit our collective societies and economies. The US-Ireland R&D Partnership Programme demonstrates the strong collaborative relationship between our countries, encouraging globally-relevant scientific discovery across borders.”

Also welcoming the announcement, Dr. Sethuraman Panchanathan, Director of the U.S. National Science Foundation, said:

“The US-Ireland R&D Partnership Programme provides a unique opportunity to advance research on a global scale. I am delighted to congratulate the awardees collaborating across the Atlantic, who are working to create future world-class technological innovations.”

The overall goal of the US-Ireland Research and Development Partnership, launched in July 2006, is to increase the level of collaborative R&D amongst researchers and industry professionals across the three jurisdictions. This unique collaboration aims to generate valuable discoveries and innovations which are transferable to the marketplace, or will lead to enhancements in health, disease prevention or healthcare.

US-Ireland R&D Programme project details – Ulster University projects:

 Title: Intelligent Data Harvesting for Multi-Scale Building Stock Classification and Energy Performance Prediction

Lead applicant: Dr. James O’Donnell (University College Dublin)

Co-applicants: Professor Neil Hewitt (Ulster University) and Prof. Wangda Zuo (University of Colorado Boulder, US)

The project area is energy and sustainability research, and it aims to reduce residential building energy consumption and its related greenhouse gas (GHG) emission and environmental impacts through creation of a novel tool chain for recommendation of complementary solution for predicting GHG reduction potentials for building owners and policy makers.

Title: Strained Engineered Germanium Quantum-Well Laser on GaAs and Si for Nanoscale Photonics

Lead applicant: Dr. Tomasz Ochalski (Munster Technological University Tyndall National Institute (ROI)

Co-applicants: Dr. Supriya Chakrabarti (Ulster University) and Prof. Mantu Hudait (Virginia Tech, US)

The project is within the areas of materials sciences and optics and photonics. The research objective of this work is to develop an engineered germanium laser with a tuneable wavelength integrated on different substrates for use in nanoscale photonics, and in particular for unique Optical Coherence Tomography imaging.

Trevor Cooper, Director of Higher Education in the Department for the Economy (Northern Ireland) said:

“The US-Ireland R&D Partnership is playing a key role in driving forward Northern Ireland’s economic vision for a ‘10x Economy’ which champions greater collaboration and innovation to deliver a ten times better economy with benefits for all our people. ‘10x Economy’ recognises that international collaboration is a key feature of the Northern Ireland research landscape and fundamental to driving both economic impact and social advancement. This flagship trans-Atlantic partnership is crucial to delivering this vision.”

The 16 collaborating institutions are University College Dublin (UCD), Trinity College Dublin (TCD), National University of Ireland Galway (NUIG), Munster Technological University (MTU), Tyndall National institute (TNI), and Dublin City University (DCU) in the Republic of Ireland; Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) and Ulster University (UU) in Northern Ireland; and University of Pennsylvania, Virginia Tech, University of Colorado Boulder, Arizona State University, Harvard University, Pennsylvania State University, Ohio State University, and Rensselaer Polytechnic University in the United States.

Find out more:

For more information on the programme and the full list of awards, visit www.sfi.ie/funding/funding-calls/us-ireland-rd-partnership.