The International Strategic Cooperation Award (ISCA) was established by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) to support new and existing research-based collaborations between Ireland and its international partners. In December 2013, Japan was designated as a partner country. An exciting new initiative, the programme will create a framework for interaction between Irish and Japanese researchers.

In June 2013, Prime Minister of Japan Mr Shinzo Abe made the first visit of a serving Japanese Prime Minister to Ireland. Following Mr Abe’s invitation for a return visit, Taoiseach of Ireland Mr Enda Kenny, TD, travelled to Japan in December 2013. While in Tokyo, Mr Kenny announced the ISCA Japan Programme, allocating €1.24 million in funding through Science Foundation Ireland.

The ISCA Japan Programme represents a key element of the Ireland-Japan Partnership for Innovation and Growth, set out in a Joint Declaration issued by Mr Kenny and Mr Abe following their reciprocal state visits. The programme promises to strengthen relationships and develop new interactions between Ireland and Japan as the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries approaches in 2017.

Eleven Irish institutes have come together to form a consortium. Led by NUI Galway, the consortium includes DCU, DIT, NIBRT, NUIM, RCSI, TCD, UCC, UCD, UL and WIT.


The programme will focus on 6 key thematic areas, identified as research priorities for the Irish and Japanese governments:

  •   Advanced manufacturing and materials
  •   Environmental and climate sciences and technologies
  •   ICT and big data analytics
  •   Imaging and optics
  •   Future healthcare including connected health
  •   Medical devices and regenerative medicine

Partnering with the Embassy of Ireland in Japan, Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland, the consortium will emplement a varied programme of activities. The 3 main activities within ISCA Japan will be:

  •   Japan-based research-led seminars
  •   Ireland-based academic workshops
  •   Bilateral research exchange trips

Through these activities, the group proposes to promote Irish research to academic, governmental and industrial research institutes. This will in turn foster existing and new long-lasting relationships between the research communities of the two countries.

Ultimately, the aims of the ISCA Japan Programme are threefold:

  •   To increase the number of joint research projects between Irish and Japanese researchers
  •   To increase the number of joint funding proposals
  •   To increase the number of Japanese PhD students, Post-doctoral researchers, and academics choosing Ireland as a destination for research