Up to 25,000 new jobs could be in the pipeline if a series of projects aimed at transforming Ireland into one of the world’s foremost digital economies come to fruition, the Minister Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Eamon Ryan TD, and Minister of State for Information Society, Minister Conor Lenihan TD, said today.
In what is one of the boldest steps taken by an Irish Government yet towards putting the country at the forefront of the digital age, the Government is to focus on building a smart broadband network called the Exemplar Network that makes use of multiple colours of fibre to dramatically boost the speed of fibre-based communications.
Minister Ryan told siliconrepublic.com that the one-stop shop to pull together all the stranded fibre assets owned by the State that could tie together 90pc of Irish urban centres will be ready to operate in early autumn, and will connect the Exemplar Network to the country’s 94 Metropolitan Area Networks (MANs) that encircle key towns.
The resulting network will make Ireland ripe for new job creation by inward investments, as well as enabling entrepreneurs to set up world-class businesses in any parish in Ireland.
Tim Fritzley, CEO of Intune Networks, the company that will build the Exemplar Network, said that the plan is to kick off straightaway by creating a template based on a geographic area known as a ‘captured network’, which will be replicated across the country throughout 2010.
The plan has already attracted the interest of the City of London, with its major financial community.
The Government’s deal with Intune will result in 300 new jobs for R&D workers and telecoms engineers, and work is set to begin immediately.
The networks plan includes making use of the rich tapestry of data centres to support cloud-computing businesses and using wireless spectrum efficiently to make Ireland a test bed for future wireless services.
The plan also includes establishing an Internet Content Services Centre (ICSC) that will enable digital rightsholders for movies, music and video games to go to market with intellectual property rights firmly and clearly established.
“We believe the ICSC could replicate and even excel beyond what we achieved with the IFSC,” said Neil Leyden, one of the contributors to the Government’s report ‘Technology Actions to Support the Smart Economy’, which was published today and outlines the Government’s new digital economy strategy,.
“The ICSC will be truly innovative and will help place Ireland and bring the content generation and distribution industries together,” Minister Ryan said. “This is about our ambition of brining Ireland to the centre stage in attempts to negotiate between piracy and content owners. This plan will leapfrog Ireland’s credentials in a relatively short time.”
The six-point plan includes capitalising on the nation’s investment in science through Science Foundation Ireland, and Minister Lenihan pointed out that Ireland’s output of patents has doubled since 2005. “We now have a situation whereby 40pc of all foreign direct investments (FDI) last year were R&D investments by global firms,” he said.
The Government’s plan also includes a vision for making Ireland a low-carbon and smart economy by creating a roadmap for smart, clean electricity provision and sustainable development around ICT, energy efficiency and clever innovations around making use of green energy such as the IBM Smartbay initiative.
“While there is a correct focus on the amount we need to save and the spending we must curtail, we must also plan for the jobs of the future,” Minister Ryan said. “We need to stimulate the economy as well in order for recovery to occur.
“The Smart Economy document pledges to make Ireland a centre of high-tech jobs that cannot be outsourced; one that uses our natural resources and our expertise to Ireland’s competitive advantage. The series of innovations in Government policy today will make the smart economy a reality.
“We have identified the challenges the world will face in the next decade. These are climate change, a peak in global oil production and the fight for scarce resources including energy and water. Understanding the challenges means there will be great rewards for the country with the solutions.
“Building on our existing strengths, this is an innovative plan that will put our small, open economy on a strong footing for a global upturn. We are targeting 25,000 jobs from the outset; today’s 350 from InTune is only the beginning,” Minister Ryan added.
By John Kennedy
View the ‘Technology Actions to Support the Smart Economy’ Report