Govt pumps €359m into PRTLI 5 – largest investment in research

16 Jul 2010

Today, the Government announced the largest investment in research in the State’s history with €359m going into PRTLI Cycle 5. The move will make Ireland Europe’s innovation hub, said Enterprise Minister Batt O’Keeffe.

The Taoiseach, Brian Cowen TD, today announced a €359m investment plan for research and innovation which will create jobs and new enterprises and drive Ireland’s economic recovery.

The Government’s Programme for Research in Third-Level Institutions (PRTLI) invests in physical infrastructure and research projects in our higher education institutions.

Future Human

Under Cycle 5 of the programme, announced today, the Government will invest €296.1m, with €62.6m coming from private non-Exchequer sources.

PRTLI Cycle 5 will run between 2011 and 2016 – the period of the revised capital programme.

The Taoiseach’s US visit

The Taoiseach said: “During my visit to the United States this week, I emphasised that the recovery in Ireland is under way.

“We have taken the difficult decisions and we are coming out of the crisis.

“Our focus now is on maximising sustainable growth and job creation.

“Over the past decade, Ireland established a strong research environment and built scientific excellence in strategic areas.

“However, as noted by the Innovation Taskforce, we now need to translate this investment into sustainable jobs and economic growth.

“We need to strengthen links between our research institutions and industry to ensure that we develop, transfer and apply knowledge in productive ways.

“The €500m Innovation Fund I launched in New York earlier this week seeks to attract top-tier venture capitalists to Ireland.

“This is another piece in our strategy to support Irish start-ups and attract overseas entrepreneurs to Ireland,” the Taoiseach said.

Result of construction under the PRTLI Cycle 5 investment

Construction work under the PRTLI Cycle 5 investment will provide more than 64,000 square metres of research space in new and refurbished buildings on our higher education campuses and create some 2,000 jobs in the sector.

The research projects will create 379 direct jobs and a significant number of research studentships.

Launching PRTLI Cycle 5 with the Taoiseach, the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation Batt O’Keeffe TD said the five-year plan – the largest investment in research in the history of the State – would help to create “smart” jobs and make Ireland Europe’s innovation hub.

“The Government’s investment of €296m under PRTLI Cycle 5 is crucial to our economic recovery.

“It will transform Ireland’s research landscape and lay the foundations for a prosperity based on sustainable high-quality jobs.

“By investing in research, buildings and people, we can continue to make our higher education institutions among the best in the world and drive a new culture of innovation that will create smart jobs for smart people,” said O’Keeffe.

Direct commercial outputs from research are accelerating.

Since 2006, invention disclosures have doubled and patent licences issued to companies have trebled.

Between 2006 and 2009, spin-out firms from higher education research have risen from eight to 35.

Last year, half of IDA Ireland”s foreign direct investment wins were in research, development and innovation and valued at €500m.

These are largely dependent on a vibrant research and innovation ecosystem. “The new higher education infrastructure will allow Enterprise Ireland to embed industry-led competence centres and enable Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) to build world-class research capacity in areas linked to industry,” said O”Keeffe.

The work of SFI-funded researchers

SFI-funded researchers are involved in more than 600 collaborations working with 349 small businesses and multinationals which, between them, employ 56,000 workers here.

The successful projects were determined from a competitive process over 18 months and involved international experts assessing the potential of Irish research to deliver jobs.

While recognising the interdisciplinary nature of the initiatives, the investments can broadly be characterised as:

·         €36m for capacity development in innovation, arts, humanities and social sciences;

·         €53m for capacity development in environment, marine and sustainable energy;

·         €66m for capacity development in material sciences and platform technology;

·         €204m for capacity development in bioscience, translational research and biomedical research.

All projects have a wide range of supporting partners including multinational and indigenous enterprises, commercial and developmental State bodies, and international affiliates.

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