Lero claims economic impact of more than €500m and 2,678 new jobs

17 Jan 2019

Prof Brian Fitzgerald, director, Lero. Image: Sean Curtin

Every €1 invested in the SFI-funded Lero centre has made more than €5 for the Irish economy, says report.

Irish software research centre Lero, funded by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), is estimated to have made an economic impact equivalent to more than half a billion euro between 2005 and 2018.

According to a study by the Kemmy Business School at the University of Limerick (UL), during this period every €1 invested by public funding agencies and industry partners in the centre contributed €5.25 back to the Irish economy on average. This amounts to a national gross output of more than €515m in those 13 years.

‘It is gratifying to note the more-than-five-times economic multiplier impact from investment in the Lero SFI research centre, in what is an increasingly important sector globally’

In addition, the Kemmy Business School Report found that the centre’s economic activity has contributed to the creation of 2,678 jobs nationally.

“In summary, the report finds that Lero has made a significant economic contribution to the Irish economy,” commented Prof Helena Lenihan, economist at the Kemmy Business School and co-author of the report.

“There is little doubt that Lero provides other benefits such as boosting software knowledge and positioning Ireland as a key part of the State infrastructure which attracts foreign direct investment and supports local industry. However, this report focuses solely on the ripple effects of Lero’s expenditure in the economy, which shows a strong knock-on economic impact,” Lenihan said.

“The results represent evidence of the wider economic benefits of investing in publicly funded scientific research,” said Trinity Business School’s Prof Brian Lucey, who consulted on the report. “Cost-benefit analysis of State expenditure is to be encouraged.”

A location for high-quality software development

Lero is part of the world-leading SFI research centre network. Since 2005, it has received €98.69m from national funding agencies including SFI, the EU and industry.

Headquartered at UL, the centre is home to more than 200 researchers across seven Irish universities and two institutes of technology. Its research covers a wide range of software development, from driverless cars and automation to artificial intelligence and cybersecurity.

“As well as its economic impact, Lero compares highly favourably with similar research centres internationally,” said Prof Brian Fitzgerald, director of Lero.

“A bibliometric analysis shows that Lero research is cited 96pc more times than the expected norm for the field. 31pc of Lero research is published in the top 10 percentile of most cited journals in the field, and 21pc of Lero research is in the top 10 percentile of most cited papers in the sector.”

“It supports our goal to help establish Ireland as a location synonymous with high-quality software development, to the extent that ‘Irish software’ can enter the lexicon in the same way as ‘German automotive’ or ‘Scandinavian design’.”

The economic impact report was welcomed by SFI’s director general and the chief scientific adviser to the Irish Government, Prof Mark Ferguson. “It is gratifying to note the more-than-five-times economic multiplier impact from investment in the Lero SFI research centre, in what is an increasingly important sector globally,” he said.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years