Launch of Trinity's Living Research Excellence Strategy & Charter

Douglas Hyde Gallery, Trinity College

06 June 2019

Good afternoon,

And welcome, everyone, to Trinity’s first ever Research Excellence Strategy and Research Charter.

Research and scholarship is at the heart of all we do in Trinity College. Our ground-breaking contributions to knowledge goes around the world, whether in the form of books, or inventions, or medical breakthroughs, or new ideas or products.

Trinity research has changed the way that people think and act. It has inspired generations of staff and students to achieve and excel.

We are vigilant about giving scholars across all the disciplines of this multi-disciplinary university the time and support they need for discovery. We are adamant about having a focus on both fundamental and applied research, and we prioritise the resourcing of research. In the most recent year for which we have figures, the academic year 2016/2017, Trinity raised just over €100 million euro in research funding.

This is by far the highest amount of any Irish university and it’s also exceptional at a European level. Trinity is 28th out of 900 higher education institutions in Europe in terms of European Research Council grants secured. Among LERU members – which is to say among the elite universities in Europe – we’re placed 14th for winning ERC grants.

In the Research Excellence Strategy, which we’re launching today, we include a table breaking down the sources of research funding over the five years from 2011 to 20171. It’s very interesting to study. What it shows is that Irish State support to our research remained fairly steady over the five years – it took a dive in 2013/14, but otherwise, we received the same amount in state research funding, €66 million, in 2017 as we did in 2011.

Where we’ve made really significant gains is in EC funding, industry funding and what we call ‘other’, which includes philanthropy and commercial activities. It’s our success with all these that has allowed us to pull ahead.

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Research excellence drives our mission in education, innovation and public engagement. When Trinity makes headlines with a new spin-out – as we did this week with the sustainable X-ray marker, Combimark2 – or when our students win awards, or our academics engage with public policy and social issues in conferences or the media – all this comes out of our foundation of research excellence.

By creating the first ever formal Research Strategy and Charter in the history of the university, we are reaffirming that research and scholarship are at the heart of everything we do. Just like the heart pumps blood around the body and to all the major organs, we are explicitly linking research to the key priority areas for the university, including:

  • Education
  • Recruiting and fostering talent
  • Collaborations with industry and peer institutions
  • Public engagement and communication.

I’m impressed at the coherence and link-up across the Research Excellence Strategy and Charter. Everything is contextualised within the wider Irish and global landscape. Mission is clearly linked to goals and actions. Any reader of this Strategy and Charter can see at a glance where our priorities lie, and how our research strategy links to, for instance, staff recruitment or Trinity’s digital strategy.

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I congratulate Linda Doyle and her team, and all involved in putting together this Strategy and Charter – very many people, I know, were part of the year-long and comprehensive consultation across the college.

The Strategy and Charter represent a really formidable achievement – they position research, set ambitious targets and clarify thinking. We are currently putting together our next Strategic Plan, which will run 2019 to 2024. Both the Research Strategy and Charter will be invaluable in bringing direction, coherence and link-up to the Strategic Plan.

I thank all of you for the work you’ve put in. By progressing Trinity on its journey as a great global research university, you are helping to inspire generations to come.

Thank you.

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