Government science and tech investment up 36pc

14 Nov 2003

The Government has boosted its estimated spend on science and technology by 36pc, according to the latest figures in the Book of Estimates.

Under the potential allocation for science and technology revealed by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Enterprise Ireland received an allocation of funding to support innovation, R&D and the flow of applied research from third level institutions of €82.8m for 2004.

In terms of grants to indigenous industry from Enterprise Ireland, funding allocated was down 15pc to €53.7m. IDA Ireland was granted €81.8m for offering grants to industry and a further €3.1m for building operations such as new manufacturing plants and offices.

Research and economics body Forfás was granted €22m to fund ongoing development and general expenses.

The biggest winner in the allocations was the Science and Technology Development Programme/Science Foundation Ireland, which saw its potential allocation rise 36pc to €201m to invest in bringing top scientific talent and funding key research projects. Science Foundation Ireland received €113.7m of this funding, a 62pc (€43.6m) increase on the €70.1m it was allocated last year.

The Information Society e-commerce initiative was the biggest loser, with its potential allocation down 56pc from €3.4m for this year to €1.4m for next year.

In terms of e-government, the Basis project received only a 3pc increase in its allocation from €758,000 for 2003 to €778,000 for the year ahead. According to the Department of Social and Family Affairs, the Reach project received a 1pc increase from last year to €8.1m.

Overall spending on science and technology will be increased by 36pc, according to the Department of Enterprise Trade and Employment. Tánaiste Mary Harney TD estimated that Ireland’s public spending in 2004 will be twice the European average.

By John Kennedy