In 2010, the Government published the Innovation Ireland: Report of the Innovation Taskforce, which specified goals and objectives for science, technology and innovation for the period 2014–2020. The Prioritisation Action plan, launched in 2012, established 14 research priority areas and set out the scope of the planned investment.
In 2015, the government also launched the Strategy for Science, Technology and Innovation 2015-2020, which sets out Ireland's ambitions to be a leading knowledge economy and specifies targets in research and innovation.
Under the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation, the Research Prioritisation Steering Group recommended 14 areas of opportunity as well as underpinning technologies and infrastructure to support these priority areas which should have received the majority of competitive public investment in STI between 2012 and 2017. Innovation 2020 commits to the review of these priority areas of focus to ensure that they are still valid, and if necessary, to revise them in the light of changed circumstances. The objective was to evolve the priority areas to ensure that Ireland is favourably positioned to benefit from the global opportunities now and into the future, by responding to worldwide megatrends and global challenges that are shaping the global economy and Ireland’s place in it.
Transport research in Ireland is based on the national research policy and on transport research policy and planning documents. Sustainability is high on the transport policy agenda. Key documents for transport research and policy include:
The research system in Ireland is highly centralised. The political agenda for research is set by the Cabinet Sub-Committee on Science and Technology. The Sub-Committee can draw on the expertise of the Chief Scientific Adviser. The Inter-Departmental Committee on Science, Technology and Innovation is responsible for overseeing implementation of research policies, primarily the Strategy for Science, Technology and Innovation.
The main advisory body on science, technology and innovation policy is the Advisory Council for Science, Technology and Innovation. In addition, the Office of Science, Technology and Innovation within the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (DJEI) plays a key role in developing this policy. In 2011, the Irish Government announced the merger of two research councils, the Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences and the Irish Research Council for Science, Engineering and Technology, to become the Irish Research Council (IRC).
Funding for transport research can be obtained through the general research financing, through dedicated funds made available by the Department of Transport, and through EU and international funding.
At national level, research funding is primarily provided by two departments:
They provides financial support to initiatives, such as pilot projects and other initiatives in the Smarter Travel Framework.
Current ongoing funding sources, strategies and thematic programmes, which are related to transport related research, include:
- Border, Midland and Western Regional Operational Programme (2014-2020) - aims to add value to wider investment programmes in targeted high growth and innovative sectors to support the creation of new quality jobs, enterprises, innovations, licenses as well as growth in the Border, Midland and Western region of Ireland. The programme’s main priorities include access to, use and quality of high-speed information and communication technologies, and Shift towards a low-carbon economy.
- Southern & Eastern Regional Operational Programme – focus is on specific growth opportunities and targeted growth and innovative sectors identified in Ireland's smart specialisation strategy, building on the region's strengths. The programme’s main priorities include promoting low-carbon strategies for urban areas.
- Transport Programme for People with Disabilities – the aims are to target social need by improving accessibility of public transport to people with disabilities who cannot avail of existing conventional services in Northern Ireland, and to complement the work of existing service providers involved in programmes designed to promote social inclusion for people with reduced mobility.
- GDA Investment Programme - subdivided into four sub-programmes: Heavy Rail Sub-programme; Light Rail Sub-programme; Bus/BRT Sub-programme; and Integration, Sustainable Transport Measures & Support Sub-programme.
- Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) - the national foundation for investment in scientific and engineering research. SFI invests in academic researchers and research teams who are most likely to generate new knowledge, leading edge technologies and competitive enterprises.
International research and development cooperation programmes and partnerships of the European Union relevant to Ireland include:
- Interreg V-A - United Kingdom-Ireland (Ireland-Northern Ireland-Scotland) Programme - focuses on four areas that are seen as crucial for job creation and growth: supporting cross border initiatives to strengthen research and innovation, preserving and protecting the shared environment, promoting the sustainable mobility across the borders and enhancing the cross-border collaboration for the provision of quality health and social care services.
- Atlantic Area Programme - promotes cooperation between 37 Atlantic regions from 5 EU Member States: France, Spain, Portugal, Ireland and the United Kingdom. Priorities include stimulating innovation and competitiveness, addressing the challenge of accelerating intelligent growth, and fostering resource efficiency, promoting renewable energies and energy efficiency.
- EEA funds
- Joint Programming Initiatives (JPI)
- European Research Area cooperation Networks (ERA-Nets)