Lenihan promises the Smart Economy is on track

22 Oct 2009

Total spending on R&D in the Irish economy across all sectors is estimated to have climbed to €2.6 billion – treble its amount in over 10 years – the Minister for Science, Technology and Innovation Conor Lenihan said today.

In a report setting out the Government’s achievements to date under its Smart Economy strategy, Lenihan said there was an integrated whole-of-government approach aimed at transforming Ireland into a competitive knowledge economy.

Eight Government departments, advisory bodies, state agencies and higher-education institutions have worked together to successfully implement the strategy.

The €2.6 billion spent on R&D in 2008 is equivalent to 1.66pc of the Gross National Product (GNP).

“Ireland has a unique environment that encourages linkage and convergence between all the participants in a collaborative research landscape,” Lenihan said.

“Government departments, funding agencies, regulatory authorities, academia and industry are all interconnected, creating a dynamic research environment,” he added.

The Renewed Programme for Government, he said, sets a target of achieving a national R&D investment target of 3pc of GDP.

The significant infrastructure investment underpinning the Strategy for Science, Technology and Innovation (SSTI) over the period to 2013 is central to economic recovery, Lenihan said.

He said the commercialisation of research investment and the generation of a strong reputation for higher education and research, as well as output of quality graduates at both undergraduate and post-graduate levels, will allow for a sustainable enterprise base underpinned by productive innovation activity across the economy.

“Strong progress is being made in implementing the key actions in the SSTI. We are building strong linkages to ensure commercialisation of an increased flow of new ideas and knowledge to produce innovative products and services that will win export markets and create much-needed sustainable employment.”

Among the highlights of the report on the Smart Economy delivery plan were:

  • Early estimates of R&D activity levels point to sharp increases in the number of firms performing significant R&D ( > €2 million), with 164 significant R&D performers in 2007 compared to 118 in 2005.
  • Higher Education R&D spending has almost quadrupled in current terms over 10 years and is now at the EU and OECD average levels.
  • SFI-funded world-class research teams work with more than 300 companies, which include many blue-chip multi-nationals, such as GlaxoSmithKline, Intel, Hewlett Packard and Pfizer amongst others.
  • SFI is supporting the employment of more than 56,000 people in Ireland.
  • In 2008, EI assisted 698 companies to perform R&D.
  • More than 40pc of IDA Ireland investments in 2008 were in R&D, with €420 million of investment.
  • Currently, there are about 170 IDA-supported companies with a significant R&D mandate with a spend of about €1.7 billion.
  • Βy the end of 2008, EI’s Campus Incubation Programme had supported 240 companies located in Business Incubation Centres employing more than 1,000 people.

By John Kennedy

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