40,000 jobs could be created by ‘the IFSC of R&D’

12 Mar 2009

An Innovation Alliance between UCD and Trinity College could create 40,000 research jobs while an Innovation Taskforce will model itself on the successful IFSC to create an International Innovation Hub in Ireland.

The Innovation Alliance, which will cost €350m over seven years, will involve the establishment of a new fourth-level Innovation Academy and a joint venture in enterprise development.

The scheme will also see the establishment of an Innovation Taskforce, which will draw on successful models such as the IFSC to advance the development of Ireland as an international innovation hub and make the Smart Economy plan a reality.

“A new type of business-ready and innovative graduate will help Ireland remain an attractive destination for multinational investment, and will greatly enhance the economic impact of Ireland’s expenditure on research by helping to nurture ideas and assist in transforming them into viable companies and jobs for our citizens,” said the Taoiseach, Brian Cowen TD.

Tánaiste Mary Coughlan TD, in particular, welcomed the fundamental cultural change the venture will create in both UCD and Trinity.

“This will be a new culture that combines, as never before, the research talents of the two institutions as an engine for future enterprise, that sets out to create the innovators of the future, and supports new and existing industries,” she said.

The Minister for Education and Science, Batt O’Keeffe TD, commended the universities on the creative energy they invested in developing the concept.

“We need to send confidence signals to the international community that Ireland is open for business,” O’Keefe said. “That Ireland is looking to a future of new ideas and new success, built on the bright entrepreneurial skills of our people, and a strong culture of innovation. We need collective effort and thinking across the system to make this happen. By coming together to maximise their joint research and innovation strengths, Trinity and UCD are making a very direct contribution to this effort.”

Minister O’Keeffe went on to say that the higher education sector, as a whole, can play its part in developing new responses to the direct economic challenges the country faces.

“The Government’s framework for the development of the smart economy talked of the challenge to the higher-education sector of creating new possibilities through new alliances and new organisational arrangements that can advance our knowledge capacity and generate opportunities for new levels of efficiency, performance, innovation and growth. This initiative from Trinity and UCD is a very encouraging direct response to this open challenge.”

The separate Innovation Taskforce will be chaired by the Secretary General of the Department of the Taoiseach, Dermot McCarthy, and will involve participation from the public and private sectors. Its membership will be announced in the next few weeks.

The Innovation Taskforce will examine options to increase levels of innovation and the rates of commercialisation of R&D on a national basis, with a view to accelerating the growth and scale-up of indigenous enterprise and to attract new knowledge-intensive direct investment. It will also identify specific policy measures that assist these goals.

“I think we can be proud that Ireland’s two largest and highest-ranked universities, Trinity College Dublin and UCD, have responded to the challenges faced by the Irish economy and to the initiatives and vision put forward in the Smart Economy Framework,” the Taoiseach said.

“Changing radically the way they work together, the merging of their activities and, most importantly, upping the ambition they have for how the university sector can contribute to economic renewal, are timely and welcome. I look forward to similar initiatives coming forward from across the country,” the Taoiseach added.

By John Kennedy

Pictured: the IFSC could be used as a successful model for the development of an international Innovation Hub in Ireland

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years