Irish Government allocated €869m to R&D in 2020

21 Jan 2021

Image: ©

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said the investment went towards testing new technologies and creating jobs of the future.

The Irish Government allocated an estimated €869.2m to research and development activities last year in an effort to make Ireland a “global innovation leader”.

According to a report published yesterday (20 January), Government spend on R&D was €802.2m in 2019 – an increase of 4.8pc compared to the previous year. This covered 30 Government departments and agencies that spend on R&D.

The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment and its agencies – which include Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), InterTrade Ireland, Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland – were responsible for more than half of all Government R&D investment in 2019.

In 2020, the report estimates that this spend increased by a further 8.4pc, with allocated funding rising to €869.2m.

‘We invest now and reap the rewards in terms of jobs and new technology in the future’

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar, TD, described research and development as a “really important driver of competitiveness, productivity and economic growth”.

“We invest now and reap the rewards in terms of jobs and new technology in the future. This investment went towards finding solutions to problems facing businesses, creating the jobs of the future, testing new technologies and making Ireland a global innovation leader.”

Varadkar added that the Government will continue to give R&D “funding priority” in the years to come.

R&D programmes

In the last two years, funding was allocated to a wide variety of research and development programmes.

Programmes from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment included the Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund and funding for centres such as the Tyndall National Institute and the Irish Centre for High-End Computing.

Enterprise Ireland was allocated funding for the Small Business Innovation Research programme, as well as for its R&D fund, commercialisation fund and innovation partnerships. Other bodies to receive funding for research included IDA Ireland, the Irish Research Council, Teagasc and the Environmental Protection Agency.

The top public body funding R&D activities in 2019 was SFI, which was allocated €188.3m to support R&D through research grants and other research-supporting programmes. This included funding for the SFI Research Centres, its Industry Fellowship, Future Innovator Prize, Starting Investigator Research Grant, Discover Programme, Research Infrastructure Programme and more.

Allocated funding for SFI in 2020 increased to €198.9m. This included funding for its new Frontiers for the Future Programme.

The next largest funder of R&D was the Higher Education Authority (HEA), which had an outturn of €166.7m in 2019. This budget increased to around €206m in 2020, however that figure included research cost extensions related to Covid-19.

Together, SFI and HEA accounted for more than 44pc of all total State investment in R&D in 2019.

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris, TD, said that continued R&D investment is “critical” for the economy and for the future.

“We have made progress in the last two years, but we know we must do more. Ireland can become a global innovation leader.”

Sarah Harford was sub-editor of Silicon Republic