‘Ireland should aim to be smartest nation on Earth’
The UK government’s digital adviser, Lord David Puttnam, the Oscar-winning producer who lives in Cork, believes Ireland’s industrial policy should strive to make the country the smartest nation on earth.
This, he said, should be achieved by investing in talent and infrastructure rather than relying on low corporate taxation.
An outspoken critic of multinationals earning revenues in one country but paying their taxes elsewhere, Puttnam believes Ireland should be positioning itself to be a global innovation leader by being the location of choice, because the country has smart talent. Lord Puttnam sits on the board of educational ICT company Promethean.
"Ireland should focus on being the smartest country in the world, to become the nation of choice so that if you really want smart people, good hook-ups with universities, great research capacity, you come to Ireland.
"My greatest single fear is that Ireland tries to devise an economic future based on becoming a Lichtenstein-on-Sea. At best, you might get a 15-year furlough. There are politicians who believe their responsibilities involve only looking 15 years ahead and those people tend to be the climate deniers.
"But if you are a genuinely serious politician and you want to make any real mark on the world, you have an obligation to be thinking now about 2025 and beyond."
The UK government recently pushed its Digital Britain Act through parliament. The Act addresses key issues such as broadband, copyright and protecting the UK's creative industries, which Puttnam says represent up to 15pc of its economy.
"To be a developed nation today and have a clear digital vision for yourself as an economy and for your individuals living in the country is a no-brainer. One of the things we are beginning to see in the UK following on from the Obama experience is the very pronounced impact the digital world is already beginning to have on politics, and that's only going to grow.
"I want to see Ireland grow up in a sense and take advantage of the digital opportunities that technology offers," Lord Puttnam said.
By John Kennedy
Photo: The UK government's digital adviser, Lord David Puttnam