Provost's speech at the launch of the Research Strategy and Charter at St. James's Hospital

Seminar Rooms A&B, Level 1, MISA, St James's Hospital

19 July 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.

Just this week, Trinity’s ground-breaking research made headlines with the report of the discovery of researchers, here in St James’, under Principal Investigator Dr Margaret Dunne, of the potential use of a particular type of T-Cells – called MAIT cells – in new treatments for oesophageal cancer1

Such headlines about Trinity research and spin-outs, or student start-ups, or outstanding books or lectures by staff are, by now, a constant.

Research excellence drives our mission in education, innovation and public engagement. We put focus on basic and applied research, and, very importantly, we prioritise the resourcing of research.

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 2017. 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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