Investing in innovation means investing in people, said IRCSET Symposium chair Riitta Mustonen in the opening address to the some 700 research students, business leaders and policy makers in attendance at the 2009 symposium in the RDS, Dublin.
“Advice that I would give to any business aiming to be innovative is to hire people for how they learn, not what they know,” she said.
Mustonen explained that innovation was not a linear process, but rather a very human one, where we must all realise the crucial importance of connecting bright people.
She went on to describe IRCSET’s new site, Diaspora; a social-networking site that will add to the human side of innovation by connecting Irish third-level researchers with each other, as well as with the business community and State bodies.
With the growing importance of inter-disciplinary research, IRCSET-funded students can now further their work by sharing unique skill sets and knowledge online with fellow researchers that may be in different locations but working on related projects.
Diaspora will be a catalyst to innovation by becoming a platform to interact with industry, and like all collaborative efforts, the more information students input the more valuable it will become going forward, explained Mustonen.
Although focusing on what the future held for Ireland as an innovation nation, as vice-president of the Academy of Finland, Mustonen made astute comparisons between the Finnish economy of the early nineties and the current global credit crises that have had such an impact on Ireland.
She said Finland innovated its way out of a recession and that Ireland can do the same by investing in R&D and exploiting post-graduate talents.