On Thursday 20 July, Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris TD launched a new €50m fund aimed to advance the strategic development of the technological sector and cement its impact on the nation’s development.

With a clear focus on quality, excellence and capacity building, the technological sector advancement fund (TSAF) seeks to drive innovation, enhance collaboration and foster growth among technological universities (TUs) and institutes of technology (IoTs).

The TSAF is a 30-month fund, running from 1 January 2024 to 30 June 2026, that is open to TUs and IoTs.

Strategic development

The fund aims to support a wide range of initiatives that contribute to the progress of these institutions.

Key objectives of the TSAF include facilitating established TUs in achieving the goals set out in the Technological Universities Act 2018 and aiding institutions to realise their objectives in the ongoing landscape reform efforts.

Minister Harris emphasised the significance of the TSAF in terms of expanding the technological sector's reach across the nation's regions.

“This new fund builds on significant investment in the technological sector. However, it is important to move past the establishment phase, to embedding the TUs in our regions," he said.

“This fund will ensure there is no cliff-edge in terms of support, but, critically, it will take these new technological universities to a different stage of their development,” said Minister Harris.

“This fund will be about supporting TUs to fulfil their mission – to support the needs of individuals, businesses and local communities. That is the next stage of our TU agenda and it is absolutely essential this funding is used to deliver for the regions they serve.”

Applications and management

The Higher Education Authority (HEA) will manage the TSAF and it is now inviting applications from eligible institutions. Applications will be open until 19 October.

These institutions include the five technological universities, Dundalk Institute of Technology and Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology.

The fund will offer grants to maintain and mainstream existing activities or initiate new strategic activities aligned with the institutions' objectives.

Eligible institutions have the opportunity to apply for funding at both institutional and sectoral levels. This unique approach encourages collaboration and integration among technological institutions, fostering a holistic advancement of the sector.

HEA CEO Dr Alan Wall welcomed the launch of the fund.

“The TSAF follows significant national and EU investment in the technological sector. This funding will nurture the growth and success of our technological universities, and enable institutions to achieve their strategic ambitions.

"The fund will also enhance the capabilities of the technological sector as a whole, demonstrating its economic, social and education impact in regions across Ireland,” said Alan.

Mainstreaming activities

One of the key aspects of the TSAF is its emphasis on mainstreaming activities that have been initiated through previous funding streams dedicated to transforming the technological sector.

The fund allows for initiatives related to further landscape reform, encouraging continuous improvement and adaptation in response to changing societal needs and technological advancements.

For more information, visit https://hea.ie/.

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