The major organizations doing scientific research in Ireland are the Agricultural Institute (established in 1958) and the Institute for Industrial Research and Standards (1946). The Dublin Institute of Advanced Studies, established by the state in 1940, includes a School of Theoretical Physics and a School of Cosmic Physics. The Royal Irish Academy, founded in 1785 and headquartered in Dublin, promotes study in science and the humanities and is the principal vehicle for Ireland's participation in international scientific unions; it has sections for mathematical and physical sciences and for biology and the environment.
The Royal Dublin Society (founded in 1731) promotes the advancement of agriculture, industry, science, and art. Ireland has 13 other specialized learned societies concerned with agriculture, medicine, science, and technology. Major scientific facilities include the Dinsink Observatory (founded in 1785) and the National Botanic Gardens (founded in 1795), both in Dublin.
Most scientific research is funded by the government; the government advisory and coordinating body on scientific matters is the National Board for Science and Technology. Medical research is supported by the Medical Research Council and Medico-Social Research Board. Veterinary and cereals research is promoted by the Department of Agriculture. The Department of Fisheries and Forestry and the Department of Industry and Energy have developed their own research programs. The UNESCO prize in science was awarded in 1981 for the development of clofazimines, a leprosy drug produced by the Medical Research Council of Ireland with aid from the Development Cooperation Division of the Department of Foreign Affairs.
In 1998, high-tech exports were valued at $23.9 billion and accounted for 45% of manufactured exports. Research and development expenditures in 1987–97 totaled 1.6% of GNP.
Some 2,319 scientists and engineers and 506 technicians per one million people were engaged that year in research and development. Ireland has 21 universities and colleges that offer courses in basic and applied science. In 1987–97, science and engineering students accounted for 31% of university enrollment.