Science and tech investment up to €1.7bn

7 May 2003

Forfas has revealed that the government’s investment in science and technology rose to €1.7bn in 2001 – a rise of 23pc.

A new report entitled State Expenditure on Science and Technology looked at expenditure by nine government departments and 31 separate agencies and investigated how much of this was devoted to research and development (R&D).

According to the report, total allocations to science and technology in 2001 was €1.7bn, an increase of €400m over 2000. The exchequer provided €1.4bn, or 85pc of the total allocation.

However, funding from the EU’s Community Support Framework decreased to €73m from €91.5m in 2000.

The balance of the funding came from the earnings of state agencies in the science and technology field, amounting to €195m. This was a decrease from the 2000 level of €200.9m.

In terms of R&D, it was found that the total public funding in R&D activities in the Irish economy increased from €244m in 2000 to an allocation of €341.8m in 2001, with principal contributions coming from the Department of Education and Science, the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment and the Department of Public Enterprise.

Forfas chief executive, Martin Cronin, described the continuing investments in science and technology infrastructure by Science Foundation Ireland as having a major impact on the Irish public research system. Other areas lauded by Cronin included the investments in the Digital Hub and Media Lab Europe and the ongoing investment by Enterprise Ireland in R&D grants to the business sector.

“These additional allocations are to be welcomed,” said Cronin, “particularly the increased support for strategic research in the third-level sector, an area where Ireland has under-invested historically compared to other developed countries. These investments are very necessary to underpin the standard of living which Ireland has achieved in recent years.”

By John Kennedy