Three MU researchers win funding for public sector research

Wednesday, March 13, 2024 - 09:00

Three researchers from Maynooth University are among 14 third-level researchers to receive funding of more than €1.25 million through Science Foundation Ireland’s Public Service Fellowship programme.

The progamme offers academic researchers an opportunity to be temporarily seconded to Government departments and agencies to work on specific collaborative research projects.

The fellowships help to foster innovation and provide an evidence base for policy, through close collaboration and engagement between the public sector and the academic research community. They last for one year (full-time) or for two years (part-time).

The MU researchers who are receiving funding include Prof Brian Donnellan of the School of Business. He will work with the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science to assess the impact of the third-level education system on innovation in enterprise.

Dr Mansoor Ahmed, a researcher at the Innovation Value Institute in Maynooth University, also received funding to work with the Department of Public Expenditure, NDP Delivery and Reform on the development of ethical guidelines for the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in the Irish public service. His work aims to design a research-driven, comprehensive guide that can help officials navigate the legal and ethical complexities of AI use.

Prof Louise Connell of MU’s Department of Psychology also received funding to work in the same department to research how behavioural science can be utilised in the public sector to tackle environmental challenges and improve policy making.

Announcing the awards, Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris said: “I am delighted that this funding through the SFI Public Service Fellowship Programme spans 11 Government departments and agencies. Research plays a significant role in helping Government and Public Sector address national and global challenges, including climate change, health and well-being, food security, transport and digital transformation.

“This targeted immersion and integration of research expertise in our public service represents a win-win partnership for participating researchers and government entities alike, and fully aligns with departmental efforts to strengthen connectivity between the sectors.”

Welcoming the news, Dr Ruth Freeman, Director Science for Society at SFI, said: “There is significant opportunity to promote innovation and advance evidence-based approaches within the public sector through meaningful engagement with the academic research community. The SFI Public Service Fellowship Programme facilitates connection between researchers and Government bodies to help enhance service delivery and inform policy-making.”