How does Ireland rank in terms of data innovation in the EU?

10 Oct 2017

The Twelve Pins, Connemara. Image: Greg Fellmann/Shutterstock

A new report from the Center For Data Innovation ranks EU countries in terms of how effectively they are harnessing the power of data.

The Center for Data Innovation is an organisation based in Washington DC dedicated to maximising the potential of data to generate social and economic benefits.

In a new report issued by the centre this month, it assessed the countries in 31 indicators covering three critical assets to enable data-driven innovation: data, technology and people or firms. For Ireland, it is a bit of a mixed bag.

Key EU data innovators

The top five countries in the EU that are the most innovative when it comes to their data are: the UK, Sweden, the Netherlands, Finland and Denmark, the latter snagging the No 1 spot. Ireland scraped into the top 10 at No 8, ahead of Malta but behind Austria.

The lowest-ranking countries in the EU are: Greece, Croatia, Hungary, Bulgaria and Cyprus. Each of the lowest-ranking countries has a lower GDP per capita than the EU average but, according to the report, there is a notable correlation between corruption levels and the final data innovation score.

Three key recommendations

Three goals were outlined by the authors of the report to enable greater data innovation in EU countries. The first is to maximise the supply of reusable data.

Notably, the centre said administrations should both avoid laws and regulations that stifle the supply and flow of data, such as “overly burdensome data protection rules” and data localisation policies in different member states; and increase the supply of data, via open data and freedom of information policies.

Governments should also improve infrastructure that supports data innovation. Administrations should encourage the development of key technological platforms that enable data innovation, such as broadband, digital public services, smart meters and smart cities.

Finally, the centre said that development of data science and literacy skills in workers should be paramount throughout the education system and professional training programmes.

How did Ireland fare?

In terms of Ireland in particular, it missed out entirely on the data economy top 14, which measures the relative value of data market demand and data company revenues. No 1 here was Estonia, which makes sense given the many years the country has spent pushing the digitisation of its public administration.

Ireland didn’t make the top 14 for data market size, which measures the member states’ data market demand as a GDP percentage. The No 1 here was, again, Estonia. Ireland also missed out on the top 14 for open-data policy implementation.

Ireland’s businesses ranked below those in Cyprus, the Czech Republic and more in terms of adequate broadband support, but it did beat out the UK by four places. For domestic broadband, Ireland landed at N0 8, while Sweden took the top spot.

In the workforce data knowledge and skills rankings, Ireland came in at 14 out of the 28 member states, with Romania coming in last. Finland was the victor here.

It’s not all bad news

On a positive note, Ireland took sixth place in the freedom of information rankings, which measured the extent to which citizens can demand and receive specific information from the government. Finland also nabbed the No 1 spot here.

Another area in which Ireland excelled was the number of data science meet-up groups in the capital city, which indicates a national interest in the field of data science in civil society. Ireland ranked third, beaten only by Denmark and the Netherlands.

The greatest victory, however, is Ireland taking first place in terms of the quantity of science and tech grads relative to its population. 24.7 out of every 1,000 Irish graduates are in the science and tech fields.

The full report can be accessed here.

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects