Irish Govt invests €37m in industry-led research centres

9 Aug 2010

Enterprise and Innovation Minister Batt O’Keeffe TD has revealed a €37m boost for industry-led research centres as part of a plan to link businesses and academics under a six-year plan for smart jobs.

More college researchers are set to team up with businesses to produce products that have market potential and can create high-quality jobs following a €37m investment boost announced today by the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation, Batt O’Keeffe TD.

Each centre will receive up to €5m over five years. Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland are working to develop a number of other centres in the pipeline.

At the start of this year, five competence centres were added to the initial pilot centre, Food for Health.

These are the Centre in Nanotechnology (Tyndall Institute, UCC); Centre in Composite Materials (UL); Centre on IT Innovation (NUIM); Centre in-Bioenergy (NUIG); and Centre in Microelectronics (Tyndall National Institute, UCC).

Minister O’Keeffe has set aside €37m in extra funding over the next six years for investment in new research centres which will bring industry and academics together to work on market-focused innovative products.

The extra funding will boost investment in the Government’s Competence Centres Programme to €90m over the next six years.

Collaborative company-led research will get under way in the research centres which will rise from six this year to 15 in 2016.

The programme is a joint initiative between the Government’s job-creation agencies, Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland, aimed at building competitive advantage for industry and creating jobs.

Announcing the extra funding, Minister O’Keeffe said: “If we want to produce next-generation high-tech products, we must get academic researchers working more closely with industry so that their expertise can be pooled and tailored for the market.

“The competence centres are industry-led to carry out market-focused strategic research and development which can be translated into commercialisable high-tech products.

“The Competence Centres Programme was developed to involve the industry more centrally in identifying publicly funded research.

“Clusters of firms will work together to overcome common research challenges and drive opportunities for innovation, growth and jobs.

“Firms that might ordinarily be competitors agree to share knowledge, risk and the rewards of pooling their research resources.

“The groups of firms are funded to access the expertise of Ireland’s top universities and, at the same time, partner with small and medium-sized enterprises in developing new products and services.”

Minister O’Keeffe said the €37m six-year investment boost will underpin the development of an environment that allows academics and business people to work together in producing market-friendly products that meet consumer demand and create jobs.

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