Franco-Irish science partnership formed

4 Dec 2003

The Irish Research Council for Science, Engineering & Technology (IRCSET) and the French Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), Europe’s largest fundamental research organisation, have signed a significant research collaboration agreement.

The agreement, signed in Dublin this morning in the presence of His Excellency Yannick Gérard, French Ambassador to Ireland, will foster co-operation between the Irish and French scientific communities. It will promote the mobility of researchers, the organisation of meetings, the joint use of labs and encourage submission to joint calls for proposals. Researchers will be in a position to take full advantage of the possibilities offered by each organisation in bilateral and multilateral contexts.

The Ambassador commented: “International mobility of researchers and research institutions and the sharing of scientific and technological concepts represent a key-element in the creation of knowledge-based economies. This link between two major research funding organisations in Ireland and France further enhances our countries’ strong cultural and academic ties. It also stresses the bond between our two nations. This initiative will also positively contribute to the wider EU research agenda. Its inception is therefore highly appropriate at a time when Ireland gets prepared for its forthcoming presidency of the European Union.”

Professor Frank Hegarty, deputy chairman of IRCSET, commented: “Ireland has made major achievements in successfully transforming itself into a leading knowledge-intensive economy. It has shown the international community that it is intent on sustaining this by investing further in research and building a knowledge society. The benefits of this perception abroad cannot be overstated.

“The provision of sufficient numbers of talented researchers remains a key challenge in the transformation of society and the creation of a knowledge-based economy. Estimates for 2010 indicate that Ireland needs 7,000 more researchers with advanced degrees (masters and PhDs) in the sciences, engineering and technology than we are currently geared to produce in that time frame.”

Operating under the auspices of the French Ministry for Research, the CNRS is a public organisation established to develop fundamental research initiatives. Enjoying close ties with higher education institutions, the CNRS is deeply involved in international science, in particular towards the establishment of a common European research area. Its policy aims at fostering collaboration between research laboratories and private firms.

The Irish Research Council for Science, Engineering and Technology was set up in June 2001 by the Minister of Education and Science to promote excellence in research across the sciences, engineering and technology.

Meanwhile, another Government-backed science promotion agency has warmly welcomed yesterday’s Budget as being helpful to building Ireland’s reputation as a world-class research hub.

The Irish Council for Science, Technology and Innovation (ICSTI) welcomed the range of measures to promote R&D in industry and high technology and innovation-based activities. These include the introduction of tax credit for research and development (R&D) by companies of 20pc for incremental R&D expenditure; stamp duty exemption for transfers of intellectual property such as copyright, patents and trademarks; and the extension of the Business Expansion and Seed Capital Schemes and the increase in the maximum amounts that can be raised to €1m in each scheme.

Commenting on the Estimates and Budget Measures for 2004, Dr Edward Walsh, chairman of ICSTI, said: “Our future prosperity depends on making Ireland attractive for knowledge-driven enterprise and on making our engineering, science and research capability stronger and more sophisticated.

“The measures announced should maintain the good progress and momentum achieved under the National Development Plan over recent years towards establishing Ireland’s reputation as a centre for world-class research. Strong partnership among all elements of the national innovation system will be critical in maximising the efficiency and effectiveness of the additional expenditure and incentives announced.”

By Brian Skelly