SFI Centre for Research Training in Foundations of Data Science

About Us

Fusing the fundamentals of applied mathematics, statistics, and machine learning to deliver 130+ high-calibre PhD graduates


The Centre for Research Training in Foundations of Data Science, funded by Science Foundation Ireland and Skillnet Ireland and supported and facilitated by Technology Ireland ICT Skillnet, is a large-scale collaborative initiative between the University of Limerick, University College Dublin, and Maynooth University. The Centre combines the expertise of world-class academics, international collaborators and industry partners, to create a centre of excellence in PhD training.


Data science underpins key sectors of Ireland’s economy and society, and its impact is continuously growing. Generating real innovation from varied data sources requires a deep understanding of the mathematical and statistical principles underlying data science. Training students to merely apply existing methodologies will not be sufficient to meet Ireland’s future data needs. Instead, experts are required whose understanding is sufficiently robust that they can adapt to exploit future data sources. These experts must be equipped with the core knowledge necessary to create bespoke methodological innovations.

Scientist Doing Research in Laboratory
Mechanical engineer working on machines

Real-World Focus

To realise its vision, our Centre will train a cohort of PhD students with a world-class foundational understanding of the horizontal themes of Applied Mathematics, Statistics and Machine Learning. These fundamental themes will be fused together by applying them to real-world challenges in vertical themes including Data Analytics, Privacy & Security, Smart Manufacturing, Networks, and Health & Wellbeing, which are key priority areas for Ireland’s growth.


A report by the Irish Government expert group on future skills identifies that the most acute instances of unmet demand relate to “deep analytical talent” such as advanced mathematical, statistical and analytical ability, and recommends that there should be a continued focus on increasing the output of industry-ready PhDs in building up the talent supply. In order to guarantee the pipeline of skilled talent, a distinctive feature of the SFI Centre for Research Training in Foundations of Data Science is the nature of its partnership with enterprise and industry.

IT researchers discussing transaction-related algorithms

Mission statement

The mission of our SFI Centre for Research Training in Foundations of Data Science is to become a Centre of Excellence in PhD Training.

Our Centre supports collaborative innovation through the formation of industry-ready PhD graduates who train and work alongside Enterprise Alliance members throughout their study, empowering and enhancing the relationship between academia and industry.

Our Aims

Industry Engagement:

Strengthen relationships between academia and industry by creating a cohort of industry-ready PhD graduates and offering world-class training to our Enterprise Alliance partners.

Global Impact:

Enhance a global reputation for developing world-class talent through interaction with international collaborators and Enterprise Alliance partners

Create A Talent Pipeline:

Equip the next generation of graduates with technical and transversal skills to meet industry and societal needs.

Societal Engagement:

Tackle real-world data-science problems across five vertical themes

Our Vision

To fuse and blend the fundamentals of applied mathematics, statistics and machine learning with application areas of national importance to deliver an adaptable workforce with the critical skills needed for truly innovative and disruptive data science.