Research and Innovation Bill 2023: Open Letter to Minister Simon Harris

Research and Innovation Bill 2023: Open Letter to Minister Simon Harris

24 April 2023
Signatures: 2,601Next Goal: 5,000
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Why this petition matters

Started by Jane Ohlmeyer

Dear Minister Harris,

As Government prepares legislation that will reconfigure our research funding landscape for generations to come through the Research and Innovation Bill, 2023, we ask you to use this unique opportunity to create a balanced and progressive research ecosystem in Ireland in line with best international practice.  Central to success in this endeavour is how we organise to support frontier research from the bottom up, alongside research and scholarship that might be more challenge orientated, how we invest in research infrastructure, and how we support researchers across all disciplines and at all stages in their career. 

Having read the Heads of Bill, we would like to make 5 points: 

  1. A meaningful definition of ‘research’ - that is inclusive of every sector of knowledge and career stage and where there is balance between STEM and AHSS - should be the bedrock of this legislation.
  2. The principles of parity of esteem and of academic freedom which are cited in Impact 2030, Ireland’s Research and Innovation Strategy (pp. 7, 15, 49) should be embedded in the Bill.
  3. The Bill needs to provide for strong, accountable, and independent governance arrangements including a meaningful and transparent system of selection of the members of the body overseeing the Agency. 
  4. European standards of good practice that support appropriate governance in research and the fair allocation of funding should be included in the legislation.
  5. There should be a commitment to fund research at a level equal to or greater than the EU average based on percentage of GDP. This must include a commitment to allocate at least 70% of the total budget available to frontiers/basic research and to fund the full cost of research, including consumable costs and infrastructure for lab-based scientific research and other research related infrastructure.

Given that the legislation will set the stage for generations, it is critical that the legislation supports researchers from different disciplinary backgrounds, with different theoretical and conceptual approaches, techniques, methodologies and instrumentation, perhaps even different goals and motivations.

Such an agency will generate benefits that cannot be achieved through other means:

  • Ireland’s drawdown of European funding will be as strong as comparably sized countries.  
  • We will continue to nurture the talent that we have and attract talent from around the world.  
  • Ireland will advance its position as a research leader on the world stage.  

These are ambitions that, we know, you share.  So we ask that you:

  1. allocate additional funding for frontier research and commit to increasing public funding for R&D through the Agency in line with European standards (the average R&D expenditure in the EU-27 is 2.32% of GDP, the current figure for Ireland is 1.23% of GDP); and 
  2. engage in meaningful consultation before the new agency takes form and give us an opportunity to be heard at the Oireachtas Education Committee. The research community has the knowledge and experience required to create the best Agency. 
  3. propose the amendments that relate to the 5 points outlined above. We suggest the following rewording:

Head 8 (a): to promote and support excellence in research in all its forms and innovation through competitively awarded research and innovation funding, within and across all disciplines and across all career stages, extending from ‘bottom-up’, fundamental research that includes discovery, blue skies research, and critical and theoretical scholarship, to applied research activity.

Head 8 (e): to promote parity of esteem and to advance equality of opportunity, diversity and inclusion in research and innovation

Head 8 (f): to promote, develop and assist the carrying out of basic research in a range of areas, including strategic areas of endeavour that concerns the future societal development and competitiveness of the State.

Based on the HEA Act 2022, section 120, it is proposed that the principle of academic freedom and responsibility be included in the Head 8 as a separate item:

Head 8 (g): to preserve and promote the principles of academic freedom.

Head 9 (k): to promote parity of esteem and support equality, diversity and inclusion in research and innovation

Head 15 (1b): 11 ordinary members, a majority of whom shall be active researchers from a wide range of disciplines.

Head 35 (1): Research and Innovation Ireland shall, in so far as it is consistent with the proper performance of its functions under Head 9, and only to the extent that these collaborations further support and fund competitive research and innovation, endeavour to secure administrative co-operation.

We look forward to hearing from you and to meeting with you.

As ever,

  1. Luke O’Neill, MRIA, FRS, Professor of Biochemistry, Trinity College Dublin
  2. Jane Ohlmeyer, MRIA, Erasmus Smith’s Professor of Modern History, Trinity College Dublin
  3. Kingston Mills, MRIA, Professor of Experimental Immunology, Biochemistry, Trinity College Dublin
  4. Rob Kitchin, MRIA, Professor in Social Sciences, Maynooth University
  5. Kathleen James-Chakraboty, MRIA, Professor of Art History, University College Dublin
  6. Marie Louise Coolahan, Professor of English, University of Galway
  7. Alan Smeaton, MRIA, Professor of Computing, Dublin City University
  8. Anne Fuchs, MRIA, FBA, Director UCD Humanities Institute, University College Dublin
  9. Mary Canning, MRIA, Chair, Governing Authority, Maynooth University and outgoing President of the Royal Irish Academy
  10. James Gleeson, Head of Department of Mathematics & Statistics, University of Limerick
  11. Brendan Dooley, Professor of Renaissance Studies, University College Cork
  12. Jonathan Coleman, MRIA, Erasmus Smith's Professor of Natural and Experimental Philosophy, Trinity College Dublin
  13. Felicity Kelliher, Professor of Management Practice, South East Technological University
  14. Mani Ramaswami, MRIA, Professor of Neurogenetics, Trinity College Dublin
  15. Paul Moynagh, MRIA, Director of the Kathleen Lonsdale Institute for Human Health Research, Maynooth University
  16. Cliona O’Farrelly, Professor of Comparative Immunology, Trinity College Dublin 
  17. Donncha O’Connell, Professor of Law, University of Galway
  18. Brian Broderick, Professor in Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering, Trinity College Dublin
  19. Stefano Sanvito, Professor of Condensed Matter Theory, Physics and Director of CRANN
  20. Luke Drury, MRIA, Professor Emeritus, School of Cosmic Physics, Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies 
  21. Brian Caulfield, Associate Professor & Head of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering, Trinity College Dublin
  22. Andrew Parnell, Professor and Director, Hamilton Institute, Maynooth University
  23. Andrew Bowie, MRIA, Professor of Innate Immunology, Trinity College Dublin
  24. Kieran Conboy, Professor in Business Information Systems, University of Galway
  25. Dan Bradley, MRIA, Professor of Genetics, Trinity College Dublin 
  26. Christina Morin, Head of English, Limerick University
  27. Eve Patten, Professor and Director of the Trinity Long Room Hub, Trinity College Dublin
  28. Linda Connolly, Professor and Director, Maynooth University Social Sciences Institute, Maynooth University
  29. Adrian Bracken, Professor in Medical Molecular Genetics, Trinity College Dublin
  30. Maxim Fomin, Research Director, Modern Languages and Linguistics, University of Ulster
  31. John Walsh, Assistant Professor in Higher Education and Chair of Trinity's branch of IFUT
  32. Andy Way, Professor of Computing, ADAPT Research Centre, Dublin City University
  33. Aoife McLysaght, Professor of Genetics, Trinity College Dublin
  34. Diane Negra, MRIA, Professor of Film Studies and Screen Culture, University College Dublin
  35. Seamus Martin, MRIA, Smurfit Chair of Medical Genetics, Trinity College Dublin
  36. John Morrissey, Professor of Human Geography, University of Galway
  37. David Finlay, Associate Professor in Immunometabolism, Trinity College Dublin
  38. Nicole Volmering, Research Assistant Professor & Principal Investigator, SFI-IRC Pathway project, Trinity College Dublin
  39. Sharon O’Brien, Associate Dean for Research, Dublin City University
  40. Andrew Gibson, Assistant Professor in Philosophy of Education, Trinity College Dublin
  41. Pádraic Moran, Lecturer in Classics, University of Galway
  42. Rachel McLoughlin, Professor in Immunology, Trinity College Dublin
  43. Senator David Norris, University of Dublin Panel
  44. Ivana Bacik, Teachta Dála for the Dublin Bay South
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Signatures: 2,601Next Goal: 5,000
Support now