Irish companies are among EU’s most innovative

22 Nov 2010

Fifty-seven per cent of Irish companies experienced innovation activity between 2006 and 2008 and Ireland can boast a higher than average global exports record, a European Commission (EC) survey suggests.

The announcement was made by the European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, Maire Geoghegan-Quinn, who said the survey found these innovative companies earned Ireland the fifth best figure in the European Union in terms of innovation.

Geoghegan-Quinn expressed her absolute confidence that Ireland can build a positive future and said further growth in its export market is essential for success.

Fighting spirit

“I am confident that Ireland will recover its fighting spirit and seek out and capitalise on opportunities to build a new economy. An economy built on innovation.

“Irish companies are maintaining investment in research and development, which will be just as important as reducing costs in underpinning future competitiveness. The Commission has just released a survey showing that 57pc of Irish companies had innovation activity between 2006 and 2008 – the fifth best figure in the EU.”

Speaking at Dublin City University today, Geoghegan-Quinn insisted the country would overcome the current financial obstacles through innovative measures, quoting the Eurgroup and ECOFIN finance minister’s statement on the Irish economy: “Given the strong fundamentals of the Irish economy, decisive implementation of the programme should allow a return to a robust and sustainable growth, safeguarding economic and social cohesion.”

High-tech growth

She noted that in the year to date, Ireland had the second-largest goods trade surplus in the entire EU and the European Commissioner quoted some impressive figures that indicate a growth in high-tech areas, as well as Irish exports.

“Ireland had the second-largest goods trade surplus in the entire EU. One-third of exports were in high-tech areas, such as information technology and life sciences.

“In the third quarter of this year, overall exports showed an annual rise of around 10pc in 2008, it was in absolute terms the 11th largest global exporter of services. Again, about one-third of these were in high-technology sectors, such as computer services, much higher than the EU average of 17pc.

The Commission’s survey also found that 16 Irish-based companies were in the top 1,400 global investors in R&D and “actually increased their R&D investment by 13pc in 2009”, claiming the time is right to make Ireland a centre for global innovation.

“There are also strong signs that inward investors continue to see Ireland as the right place for high-tech investment. It is extremely well placed to become a global innovation hub.”

Difficult times

Geoghegan-Quinn’s comments come at a time of serious economic and financial crisis, with the Irish Government finally requesting a multi-billion euro loan package of the EU and the IMF.

The Commissioner also welcomed the DCU Ryan Academy for its work with emerging start-up companies.

“DCU has already adopted this approach, dubbing itself a ‘University of Enterprise’, by establishing a DCU Enterprise Advisory Board comprised of global and national leaders from the enterprise sector and launching a seed-venture fund for early-stage technology start-ups in the Ryan Academy for Entrepreneurship. These are excellent initiatives which I warmly welcome.”