Government commissions innovation strategy study

6 Dec 2005

The National Economic and Social Development Office, on behalf of the Government, has commissioned a study on key challenges facing Ireland in advancing the State’s innovation strategies.

The commissioning of the study emerged in Brussels today as the Minister for European Affairs, Noel Treacy TD, addressed a Microsoft research and innovation conference. The roundtable discussion was also attended by Ann Mettler, executive director and co-founder of the Lisbon Council, German MEP Jorgo Chatzimarkakis; Colette Lewiner, executive vice-president of Capgemini; Carlos Moreira, co-founder and chairman of WiseKey; and Carlos Zorrinho, president of the Council of Ministers for the National Lisbon Strategy.

The Microsoft event was designed to bring together politicians, companies, researchers, academics and policy makers in Brussels for a debate on the future of European research and development (R&D). Speakers included Carl Bildt, former Swedish premier and now UN Special Envoy. Some 15 Irish delegates attended the conference. The innovation day also showcased products of Microsoft and its partners’ R&D activities to demonstrate the vibrancy of Europe’s innovation sector. This part of the event was visited by Irish European Commissioner Charlie McCreevy.

Minister Treacy said Ireland’s future economic development depended on its ability to generate new knowledge and to innovative. “If we are to remain at the cutting edge in the global knowledge economy, then we have to invest in the people and infrastructure necessary to underpin an innovation-led business culture.

“While we have key strategies and programmes in place to drive our development in this area, we must continue to stretch ourselves and to look into the future. That is why we have commenced an exercise, called Knowledge Society Foresight, to identify the key challenges facing Ireland in advancing to the innovation-driven stage of socio-economic development.”

The Minister told the conference of researchers, academics, companies and policy makers that Ireland is performing well on many of the Lisbon indicators, with the lowest level of unemployment in the EU, the second lowest national debt and the highest level of investment in infrastructure. “Notwithstanding this, we cannot afford to become complacent and as with the EU in general, competitiveness is a key concern for all of us,” he warned. The Minister said Ireland was shifting from first and second generation e-government (information and service delivery) to third generation delivery of e-services.

“This third generation of services will focus on aggregation of common administrative processes and the development of information management practices to achieve greater coherence in public policy. Through our investment in ICT in schools, we are also committed to achieving computer literacy, throughout our school system. Ensuring that ICT has a more central role in the curriculum and in student assessment is vital for the future,” the Minister said.

Even though the Irish economy has benefited greatly from the internationalisation of technology flows, over the past two decades our gross expenditure on R&D is at two thirds of the EU average, Treacy said. “We are making progress in this key area and under the National Development Plan, we are achieving a fivefold increase in investment in technology, innovation and scientific research.”

By John Kennedy