|Department of the Taoiseach, Dublin - - Foreign companies dominate the Irish economy and were responsible for 87% of exports in 2005. Irish investors have invested €30 billion in commercial prooperty in both Ireland and overseas in the past 5 years while the manufacturing sector lost 30,000 jobs. Up to 20% of the Irish private sector workforce are in construction related jobs. State agency
chairman Eoin O'Driscoll who chaired the Enterprise Strategy Group which produced a report in 2004 on future enterprise strategy, said last year that most of the products made in Ireland are developed, designed, marketed and sold by people overseas.
William Prasifka, the chairman of the Competition Authority, said last week that “in too many areas, Ireland has not willingly embraced competition. European Directives forced the introduction of minimum levels of competition in the telecommunications and energy sectors. In other areas, such as taxis and pharmacies, legal advice or court actions precipitated change.”
Poor trade figures for April that were published on June 16, 2006, have raised serious questions about the competitiveness of the economy.
Both Davy Stockbrokers and Alan McQuaid of Bloxham Stockbrokers said on Friday that the emerging trade figures for the year to date suggest a serious loss of economic competitiveness on international markets.
Exports fell 10% in April 2006 while imports were down 12% compared to the previous month.
The Government today Sunday launched its New Strategy for Science, Technology and Innovation to 2013, which it says will drive economic growth, continue to create high quality and high paying jobs and facilitate social advancement. The implementation of the Strategy will form a central plank of the forthcoming NDP (National Development Plan) and will involve expenditure by Government of €2.7 billion in the period up to 2008. This funding builds on funding of €658m per annum in 2006 allocated to the strategy and includes a priority commitment of an additional €192 million for 2007 and 2008 over existing investment:
IRISH GOVERNMENT REPORT: Strategy for Science,Technology and Innovation 2006 - 2013 (pdf file)
The Government says that the expenditure will place Ireland at the forefront of generating and using new knowledge for economic and social progress, within an innovation driven culture. The Strategy will see Ireland secure its position as one of the world’s advanced knowledge economies and become renowned worldwide for the excellence of its research. It will put the benefits and opportunities of science, technology and innovation at the heart of Irish economic and social development, grow our enterprise sector in a sustainable manner and facilitate social advancement.
Launching the Strategy at Government Buildings today, where he acknowledged the imperative of acting decisively if Ireland is to prosper in an ever more competitive global market place, An Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern TD, said that “the knowledge based society will offer new opportunities for employment and social advancement, tapping into Ireland’s long tradition of creativity and our talent for communication. It will bring together researchers and innovators from all disciplines, including the physical and social sciences, arts and humanities, to meet the challenges and opportunities presented by an increasingly diverse world”.
He added that “the Government is fully committed to the implementation of the Strategy and making Ireland renowned for the excellence of its research.” “Our track record in driving investment in this area is there to be seen and the outcomes emerging from that investment are clearly supporting the economic and social benefits we are currently enjoying”, the Taoiseach added.
Also speaking at the launch the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children, Ms Mary Harney,T.D., stressed the importance of the Strategy for the welfare of all citizens. “The Government is investing in this key infrastructural area to ensure the ongoing well being of all Irish people, to build on initiatives in other areas, such as cancer research, and to grow our ability to generate resources to pay for essential goods and services” she stated.
Over the past number of years, key Government investments, such as the Programme for Research in Third Level Institutions, the creation of Science Foundation Ireland, and investments in socially and economically vital areas including Health, Agriculture, and the Marine, have established the foundations of our now world-class base. Government activity has been complemented by increased investment by the enterprise sector in R&D, leading to new products and services and gaining a positive reputation for Ireland in the global economy, where responsiveness is critical to attracting inward investment..
Foreign investment has responded to Government initiatives and today the majority of new, quality employment created in Ireland is in the high-tech and innovation sector.
The Strategy aims for a doubling of postgraduates, with significant numbers of these being utilised by the enterprise sector. Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Micheál Martin T.D., who directed the preparation of the Strategy, commented:“Our highly skilled workforce and our research capability are among our most favourable assets in growing competitiveness and quality employment. There are pressing economic reasons for us to continually enhance our potential in these areas, releasing the results of that research into commercial and industrial application. We are aiming to ensure more effective commercialisation of the ideas and know how being generated by our Universities and public research institutions and to forge new partnerships between these institutions and enterprise.
We also aim to devote significant resources to supporting enterprise R&D, in both the indigenous and multinational sectors to help companies more than double their spend on research in the period up to 2013. The Strategy also sets out a framework for public sector research, which will enhance enterprise performance and deliver benefits for society as a whole, in agriculture and food, forestry, marine, health, energy and the environment. These actions underline the Government’s commitment to ensuring that Ireland’s manufacturing and international services industries continue to grow their competitive advantage and employment potential, remaining strong players on the global stage.
The action orientation of the Strategy will help us achieve real progress in this regard," Martin said.
"It is not what you know it is how you use it. You have to be a pacesetter”, the Minister stated, reflecting on a recent press comment by Klaus Schwab of the World Economic Forum. “This strategy shows clearly how we intend to use our knowledge and skills to drive the economy to new levels to the benefit of all the citizens of the whole island of Ireland," said the Minister.
The objectives of the Strategy will be delivered through the concerted efforts of all those involved in the National System of Innovation. The Government’s strategic vision for STI has been developed in an all-island context and will encourage the development of further north/south collaboration in R&D.
Martin indicated that success will be marked by
· increased participation in the sciences
· increased numbers of people with advanced qualifications
· enhanced contribution by research to economic and social development transformational change in the quality and quantity of research
· increased output of economically relevant knowledge
· increased trans-national research activity
· an international profile for Ireland and greater coherence and exploitation of synergies, nationally and internationally.
“By advancing Ireland’s knowledge economy we will deliver world class people and enterprises with the drive and resources to succeed in a tough global environment”, the Minister added.
Also commenting at the launch, Finance Minister, Brian Cowen said “this Government has placed research and development centre stage in its economic strategy with an allocation of a five-fold increase in research investment over the course of the current National Development Plan. That decision has delivered results, in terms of Ireland’s ability to compete for internationally mobile research-related investment. But there is no room for complacency in what is a highly competitive and rapidly evolving environment. It is clear that we in Ireland, like many of our EU colleagues, still have some serious work to do. This Strategy demonstrates that we are committed to that challenge.”
2006 European Innovation Scoreboard : Switzerland, Finland, Sweden in lead; Ireland gets 11th rank; Irish business R&D shows both an absolute and relative decline over time
EU25 R&D expenditure stable at 1.9% of GDP in 2004: Ireland at 1.2% - Sweden 3.7%