Tech veteran to lead Irish economic strategy drive

28 Jul 2003

One of Ireland’s most senior technology executives is to play an instrumental role in developing a new economic strategy that is aimed at ensuring that the Irish economy remains the envy of the rest of Europe over the next ten years.

Eoin O’Driscoll (pictured), former Lucent vice president and CEO of technology change management firm Aderra, is taking the role of chairman of the new Enterprise Strategy Group established by Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Mary Harney TD.

The function of the new group, Harney said, is to act as a catalyst that would catapult Ireland to the forefront of the world’s leading knowledge-driven economies.

The group, led by O’Driscoll, has been given six to nine months to report back to Harney with a blueprint for an enterprise strategy for growth and employment in Ireland up to the year 2010.

The group will inherit as a point of reference the 1992 Culliton Report which Harney said provided a watershed in the history and development of industrial policy in Ireland and led to the prosperous economy of the late 1990s.

O’Driscoll has built up a career working in the electronics and telecommunications business in Ireland, Canada and the US, holding senior vice president positions in Nortel, Wang, Stratus and Ascend Communications. Before founding Aderra, his latest venture, O’Driscoll held a number of senior positions at Lucent Technologies, including managing director of the Irish operations as well as senior vice president of a number of key divisions, ranging from manufacturing to supply chain management.

The Executive Strategy Group chaired by O’Driscoll will be supported in its work by Forfás, the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment the various industrial development agencies, including IDA Ireland, Enterprise Ireland and Science Foundation Ireland.

Among the areas the group will be examining will be inward investment, infrastructure, underpinning the industries of the future, cost competitiveness , R&D, education and entrepreneurial start-ups. Other factors that will feature will be regional development in line with the National Spatial Strategy and evaluating various business sectors in the economy.

“The 1990s were a decade of unprecedented growth in Ireland. We continue to enjoy the benefits of the social and economic progress we have made in that period. We enjoy a higher standard of living and there are more people at work in the country than ever before. But accompanying that progress is the twin challenge of sustaining and building on success and of meeting the heightened expectations of our people. We will not guarantee our future by looking to the past: we will not move forward by standing still,” Harney said.

She continued: “The Irish economy is undergoing fundamental change. We are experiencing something of an industrial revolution at a difficult time globally. Ireland is no longer a low-cost location for investment and the factors that have helped to make us one of the most dynamic economies in the world, such as a plentiful supply of good quality workers and a relatively low cost base are becoming less and less relevant.”

“But Ireland has a proven track record in attracting investment in key growth sectors such bio-pharma, pharmaceuticals and medical devices. The Government is investing unprecedented funds in developing a world-class research community in the country. We must build on these strengths as we adapt to our changed circumstances and make the transition to a knowledge-based, research and innovation-driven economy.”

By John Kennedy