Industry welcomes appointment of Irish R&D Commissioner for Europe

27 Nov 2009

The heads of leading technology companies, the business world and the science elite in Ireland have welcomed the appointment of Máire Geoghegan-Quinn as EU Commissioner for Research and Innovation.

Paul Rellis, head of Microsoft Ireland, said it was welcome news from Ireland’s perspective.

“Science, technology and innovation will be the key drivers for job creation in the Smart Economy in Ireland and across Europe in the next decade and it is fantastic news that this strategically important portfolio will be managed by Ireland’s commissioner.

“Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn’s appointment to such a valuable and influential portfolio is a huge vote of confidence in Ireland and a ringing endorsement of the Government’s drive to establish Ireland as a Smart Economy. It is clear that research, innovation and the Smart Economy will be at the heart of our future economic recovery.

“We at Microsoft look forward to working with and supporting the commissioner in her important role in the months and years ahead,” Rellis said.

Future of Ireland

Securing this portfolio in particular is important to Ireland’s future, said Ben Hurley, chief executive of the National Digital Research Centre.

“Economic recovery in Ireland is going to depend more and more on our ability to turn ideas into income and jobs.

“This appointment is both a significant affirmation of Ireland’s current research and innovation capabilities but also a huge opportunity for us to leverage new investment towards international markets,” Hurley added.

Business lobby group IBEC said that research and innovation will be central to providing high-quality jobs and prosperity to Europe in the years ahead.

“This is an important and welcome portfolio for the next Irish commissioner,” IBEC director of international affairs Brendan Butler said.

“Research and innovation will be central to providing high-quality jobs and prosperity. The area is fundamental to both Europe’s and Ireland’s future competitiveness. The appointment will ensure that Ireland will play a key role in influencing both current and future research priorities and funding for the entire EU.

“Máire Geoghegan-Quinn will be responsible for EU’s €50-billion Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development 2007- 2013 (FP7), which is the main instrument for funding research in Europe.

“Through participation in research programmes such as this, Irish researchers and scientists have been able to access funds, collaborate with European partners in leading-edge research and develop an integrated system of innovation for the country. Ireland is aiming at a target of €600 million in funding over the lifetime of FP7 and at one point was receiving over €1 million per week from the fund.”

Welcome news

Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) also welcomed today’s announcement by European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso that Geoghegan-Quinn has been given the research and innovation portfolio.

“As European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn will have a critical role to play in stimulating and driving economic growth across the EU,” said Prof Frank Gannon, director general, Science Foundation Ireland.

“This portfolio is horizontal in nature in that research and innovation policy impacts on all aspects of the European economy and society. I look forward to working with Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn over the coming years both directly through SFI and the various European groups that I am involved in, such as European Research Area Board (ERAB) and EUROHORCS (European Heads of Research Councils).”

By John Kennedy

Photo: Máire Geoghegan-Quinn.

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