The Government has laid out its ambitious Innovation 2020 science programme for the next number of years, which includes the plan to almost double R&D funding from €2.9bn to €5bn.
To be launched by the Minister for Research, Innovation and Skills Damien English later this morning (8 December), Innovation 2020 will be a five-year strategy that should greatly increase the amount of funding put towards research and development of science and technology.
This amount of €5bn, the Government says, will now equate to 2.5pc of the country’s GNP.
The 88-page report released this morning elaborating more on what’s to come over the next few years shows a particular interest in providing greater levels of post-doctoral and PhD funding.
Horizon 2020 to be drawn down
Some of the changes expected as part of Innovation 2020 include increasing the number of research personnel in enterprise by 60pc to 40,000, while research masters and PhD enrolments will be increased by 30pc to 2,250.
Also, the Government will double private investment of R&D performed in the public research system, marking a 40pc increase in the share of PhD researchers transferring from Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) research teams to industry.
The next five years will also see a drawdown of €1.25bn from Horizon 2020 for Irish institutions and companies, which will include the introduction of a new programme of funding for frontier research.
Throughout this time, up until 2018, a formal horizon-scanning exercise will be undertaken to find the best commercial opportunities for Irish-based enterprises to invest in science and technology, while also benchmarking our efforts against those of other leading sci-tech nations.
Ireland seeks ELIXIR
There are also plans to create a successor to the Programme for Research in Third-Level Institutions, which is to be rolled out to include investment in the creation of new facilities as well as upgrading and expanding current education centres.
From a wider European perspective, the Government has confirmed that it is to apply Ireland for full membership of the European research body, ELIXIR, which allows biological laboratories across Europe to share and store their research data as part of a large, unified network.
It also confirmed that discussions over membership of CERN and the European Southern Observatory (ESO) remain ongoing.
Minister English said of the report this morning: “Developing the talent of our population is an underlying aim of Innovation 2020 and will be critical to the successful realisation of our national vision of Ireland as an innovation leader.
“We will support talent development from primary level through to post-doctoral research and from frontier research across all disciplines to practical application.”
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