College head calls for tax breaks to support R&D

28 Nov 2003

The director of Waterford Institute of Technology has called for tax incentives to encourage investment in Ireland’s research infrastructure.

Speaking at the completion of the new information technology services centre at the Waterford Institute of Technology, Professor Kieran Byrne said that incentives were needed to support investment in research, development and innovation and that initiatives equivalent to the Section 23s, which stimulated investment in student residences, should be introduced to support research buildings and laboratories.

“In the face of uncertainty in public finances, there may be a temptation amongst decision makers to reduce emphasis on education and R&D. Whilst we should examine other income streams apart from the Exchequer, there’s no doubt that the pulse of a flagging economy can be quickened by state investment in education and research as a method of sustaining long-term growth. Tax credit incentives and other initiatives should be a government priority through the creation of a well developed collaboration between the public and private sectors.

“Tax credits that benefit those industries that form links with third level institutions would create a developed attitude to research and ensure that R&D remains high on the educational and economic agenda. Investment in tax credits benefiting lifelong learning would enable Ireland’s workforce to raise its skill quotient whilst minimising the drop in income associated with additional training. For it to work, this indirect investment could be tied to negotiations on benchmarking and national wage agreements,” said Byrne.

The new information technology centre will also house the Centre for the Advancement of Learning of Maths, Science and Technology. The Centre will play a key part in the effort to increase the number of students taking science subjects or science degrees in secondary and higher education.

By Brian Skelly