MU to co-lead AI and climate research in new Irish-UK Centre

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris and the UK Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, Michelle Donelan
Wednesday, November 29, 2023 - 10:00

Maynooth University will be a leading research partner in a new Co-Centre for Climate + Biodiversity and Water, one of two research centres to receive joint funding of €70 million from the Irish and UK governments.

The centre for research, innovation and policy development aims to address the challenges of climate change, biodiversity loss and water degradation. It will receive funding of €41.3 million and will have more than 60 researchers from 14 institutions across Ireland and the UK.

Maynooth University is among the eight Irish universities providing research for the centre, along with three Northern Irish research institutes and three British ones.

The MU research will be led by Prof Peter Thorne of the Geography Department and Director of ICARUS (Irish Climate Analysis and Research UnitS) and Prof Andrew Parnell, Director of the Hamilton Institute, who described the new centre as “an enormously exciting and timely initiative”.

“At Maynooth we will co-lead the research on AI and climate change, developing new ways to use this technology to solve prescient problems within climate, biodiversity, and water,” Prof Parnell said. “We believe that the expertise that Maynooth provides across the 14 different universities involved in this Co-Centre, sourced from the Hamilton Institute and ICARUS research groups, will play a key part in Ireland’s future climate resilience.”

The Co-Centre is one of two research units being set up with the joint funding to bring together academics, industry and policymakers across Irish, British and Northern Irish government departments to collaborate on common challenges such as food sustainability and climate change.

The centre will begin work on January 1, 2024, along with a second centre for Sustainable and Resilient Food Systems, which aims to develop solutions to move the food system to climate neutrality by 2050. Both centres will be funded for six years until 2030.

The initiative was announced by Simon Harris, Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science and Michelle Donelan, Britain’s Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology.

Up to €40 million of the overall funding is coming from Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) with £17 million from Northern Ireland’s Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs and up to £12 million through UK Research and Innovation. The Climate Co-Centre will receive more than 30% co-funding from 29 industry partners.

Welcoming the announcement, Minister Harris said: “Addressing climate change and achieving sustainable and resilient food systems are intertwined challenges facing us all. This investment in two new collaborative research centres is a major development in addressing these pressing issues in a coordinated and concerted way.”