Tim Creedon, research head of the institutes of technology, has said a network of technology research centres within the institutes is essential to unlock research resources for industry.
Speaking at the launch of the Alumni Association at Institute of Technology Tallaght, Creedon said Ireland faced three major challenges in research and development (R&D): the relatively low number of researchers involved in R&D; the low number of patents being registered; and the low spending by foreign firms in Ireland as a percentage of their output.
“We must increase our R&D output if the economy is to continue to prosper. The experience in Europe and US is that all industry benefits from proximity to a centre of research capacity. These centres act as catalysts for industry by facilitating the development of clusters of interlinked activity, creating a dynamic between industry and the centre that drives the development of a strong research-enabled industry.”
He added that the proposal for technology centres provided for in Enterprise Ireland’s (EI) strategic plan offered an opportunity to resolve these issues.
“A network of technology centres based in the institutes would enable EI to deliver on its strategy and would ensure that the full research resource in institutes could be unlocked to the benefit of industry and make an important contribution to national research and innovation. The institutes are currently preparing a proposal for Government for an investment of €120m to develop these centres, which we hope will be considered in the context of the Government’s review of investment in R&D.”
Arguing that the institutes were “well positioned to play a critical part in the delivery of research if the proper physical infrastructure is put in place” Creedon said they were being held back by a lack of proper facilities.
“The absence of suitable, confidential and secure research facilities is an impediment to enabling industries and institutes to get involved in joint applied R&D and technology-transfer projects.”
By Brian Skelly