Six researchers from Trinity – who make up four teams – are among those taking part in the latest round of the National Challenge Fund. While pursuing different projects, they share the goal of helping Ireland prepare for its green transition and digital transformation.

The Trinity researchers named today, who have joined either the Sustainable Communities Challenge or Future Food Systems Challenge, are:

  • Dr Richard Nair (School of Natural Sciences, lead applicant with co-lead applicant Saoirse Tracy, UCD); Project: RootCheck: Image-Based Root Health Assessment Tools for Sustainable Agriculture
  • Professors John Gallagher and Harun Siljak (who form a team, School of Engineering); Project: Transforming Rural water communities As positive Climate and Energy districts (TRACE)
  • Professors David O’Connell (School of Engineering) and Marta Martins (School of Genetics & Microbiology, who form a team); Project: NUtrienT Recovery from subsurfacE agriCultural drainS (NUTRECS)
  • Professor Brian Caulfield (School of Engineering, co-lead applicant with lead applicant Niamh Moore-Cherry, UCD); Project: CONUNDRUM: Co-creating sustainable and shared community mobility

Teams will immediately start work on a Concept Phase (six months) followed by a Seed Phase (12 months). There will then be a down-selection of teams for a further period of 12 months before one team in each Challenge wins the overall Prize Award of €2 million.

All participating researchers must engage directly with the potential beneficiaries of their inventions and solutions to make sure they are responding to the needs of the community.

The Sustainable Communities Challenge gives teams a unique opportunity to contribute to Ireland’s transition to an environmentally sustainable and climate-neutral economy. The challenge focuses on creating sustainable and inclusive ways for all people to live, and to thrive in balance with nature, the environment, and our planet.

The Future Food Systems Challenge gives teams a unique opportunity to contribute to Ireland’s efforts in creating sustainable, productive and resilient food systems.

Simon Harris, Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, said: “The National Challenge Fund is both a marathon and a sprint for these researchers.

“They are committing to solving long-term problems, but they need to develop their ideas quickly and validate their solutions to keep unlocking funding each year.

“This kind of solutions-driven research will help us to tackle the big societal changes we face as we become a green and digital country, and I am already looking forward to the years ahead as we see the projects advance.

“I am particularly pleased to see the diversity of researchers – coming from all career stages, and from across the higher education network, as we work to make our research community representative of modern Ireland.”

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