The Government’s newly launched Innovation 2020 strategy relies heavily on nurturing and attracting talented researchers, which in turn will support a growing knowledge economy.
Tuesday 8 December 2015 marked the 82nd anniversary of the death of John Joly, a remarkable Irish scientist to whom the world owes a debt of gratitude for his pioneering development of radiotherapy treatment for cancer, a forebear of the treatment commonly used in hospitals today.
Tomorrow, Thursday, Donegal’s Prof William Campbell will receive his Nobel Prize in medicine for his role in discoveries concerning therapies to fight roundworm parasitic infections.
It was this immense timeline of impactful Irish scientific research that provided the backdrop for An Taoiseach Enda Kenny, TD, to formally introduce the Government’s Innovation 2020 strategy to a crowd of delegates at the second annual Innovation Showcase.
‘Talent is Ireland’s greatest asset’
As much as it is about continuing a tradition of life-changing research discoveries, Innovation 2020 is an economic strategy intent on improving and building upon Ireland’s knowledge economy.
“Our reputation for research excellence has been a major catalyst in our success in attracting and maintaining foreign direct investment,” said An Taoiseach, “and [Innovation 2020] demonstrates that we remain strongly committed to maintaining and to improving standards in the excellence of our research.”
“It acknowledges that Ireland’s greatest asset has always been and will always be our talented people,” he added.
Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton, TD, continued this theme, stating that a “step-change” needs to be taken in the country’s ambition for sustainable, full employment, leveraging the innovation sectors.
“Talent will be the key to it, particularly talent in what you might call key enabling technologies,” said Bruton.
“We must make sure that innovative thinking can find a road through. That we can integrate the people who are innovators and allow our structures to be flexible enough to absorb innovation.”
Innovation 2020 targets increased investment in R&D
Indeed, Ireland maintains a distinguished reputation for scientific prowess. According to Science Foundation Ireland’s most recent annual report, Ireland jumped four places to 16th in the ranking of the world’s most-advanced countries in science.
The Government has already expressed a commitment to improving this standing with Budget 2016 introducing the world’s first OECD-compliant Knowledge Development Box with a competitive tax rate of 6.25pc (half the standard corporate tax rate).
Now, with Innovation 2020, the Government has committed to a target of increasing public and private investment in research to 2.5pc of GNP by 2020.