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News : Irish Last Updated: Mar 12, 2010 - 7:03:59 AM


Taoiseach launches Innovation Ireland Taskforce report; Says important marketing message for Ministers to carry abroad for St. Patrick's Day
By Finfacts Team
Mar 11, 2010 - 3:21:16 PM

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The Taoiseach, Brian Cowen  today launched the report of the Innovation Ireland Taskforce in the Science Gallery, Dublin. The Government said the report will be an important part of the marketing message the Taoiseach and other Ministers will be taking abroad over St. Patrick's Day.

He said:"I welcome the Taskforce's recommendations for making Ireland a Global Innovation Hub. It is ambitious, but I believe that it can be done. In fact, as the Taskforce point out, we have no choice but to make it happen if Ireland is to create the jobs we need."

"The report contains many new ideas, as well as calling for a reinforcement and better alignment of existing efforts and programmes. It also poses a challenge to industry to seize the opportunities arising. I look forward to working with my colleagues in Government to take forward the Taskforce's recommendations to make Ireland a Global Innovation Hub." The Taoiseach thanked the Taskforce members for their enormous commitment of time and effort and said that their vision will require continued support from all stakeholders to ensure that all elements of Ireland's innovation system work cohesively together.

"I am very encouraged by the level of interest in the work of the Taskforce - as demonstrated by the number of submissions they received. It shows a level of energy which we need to capture as we start implementing this report. In fact, I know that the Taskforce's work has, by itself, already been an important stimulus to thinking and action by many organisations and individuals."

"This report provides a roadmap for one of the five Action Areas in the Smart Economy Framework and complements the progress which has already been made on other aspects of the strategy."

The Taoiseach is leaving tomorrow to start his visit to the United States for the St. Patricks' Day period. He said "This report will be an important part of the message I and other Ministers will be taking abroad we promote Ireland as a location for investment."

In welcoming the report, the Tánaiste, Mary Coughlan T.D., said:"Our success to date in turning investments in research and development, in entrepreneurs, in innovative companies into world beating competitive advantage for jobs and growth must be redoubled. Critical to this is the removal of barriers to success and seizing the opportunities that the Taskforce has identified."

Also welcoming the Taskforce's report, the Minister for Communications Energy and Natural Resources, Eamonn Ryan T.D., said: "This Government recognises that we need to forge a new economy; we need to stimulate and invest in ourselves. As Minister responsible for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, I will work across Government to deliver the infrastructure we need to innovate - broadband and our energy grid. I will continue our work to ensure a secure, competitive and clean energy supply.

We need to take risks and reward new thinking. I am particularly pleased with the recommendations on bankruptcy which will be taken on by the Debt Management taskforce currently working in Government.

Government is designing the economy of the future, this plan will bring us investment and jobs into the future. We will deliver this change."

Conor Lenihan T.D., Minister for Science, Technology and Innovation said "Innovation and economic recovery are two sides of the same coin. The recommendations of this report are about matching our intellectual capital with higher productivity".

SEE: Finfacts article, March 10, 2010:  Innovation Ireland Taskforce: Yet another 120,000 jobs plucked from the air by insiders?; In UK 2,900 high-tech companies in business since 1991 have only 40,000 jobs

In its report, The Taskforce sets out is vision of Ireland as a Global Innovation Hub:

- the best place in Europe to turn research and knowledge into products and services;
- the best place in Europe to start and grow an innovative company;
- the best place to relocate or expand and scale an SME; and
- the best place in Europe for research-intensive multinationals to collaborate with each other and with clusters of small companies.

The Taskforce has made recommendations across a wide range of areas including:

- transform the seed, angel and venture capital environment in Ireland
- introduce a European Accelerator Programme to attract the European HQs of fast-growing private US companies
- encourage overseas entrepreneurs to come to Ireland to start and grow their companies
- transform our Intellectual Property (IP) arrangements and make Ireland an International Innovation Services Centre (IISC)
- use Flagship projects, where public procurement will grow clusters of companies, addressing global needs, with innovative products\services for export
- the education system needs to be better connected to the needs of innovative enterprises, including bonus points for high level maths

If done successfully, the Taskforce estimates that a minimum of 117,000 new jobs could be created by 2020.

IBEC  today welcomed the report  and said it would serve as a roadmap to guide the country towards becoming a smart economy. The group specifically welcomed the report's commitment to public investment in research and said that, despite the economic downturn, investment in innovation must remain a priority.

IBEC Director General Danny McCoy said:
“The current economic downturn has reinforced the need to foster an economy built on innovation. This is where much of our economic success has come from in the past, and it is key to future growth.

"Public investment in research and innovation can generate real economic growth. The recommendation to maintain such expenditure is particularly welcome as it will position the country to take full advantage of the global economic recovery. Such a policy was successfully pursued by Finland in the early 1990s.

“The report acknowledges that successful innovation depends on cooperation between all stakeholders. This will involve collaboration between business and higher education institutions. If supported effectively, this will produce new technologies, service industries and knowledge, which will drive social change and support wealth and job creation.

“The immediate challenge is to ensure that the report's recommendations are implemented. Lasting benefits will be secured if the recommendations are supported by tangible commitments such as:

  • improved incentives for the commercialisation of good ideas and new products;
  • enhanced R&D taxation initiatives;
  • strengthening of the environment for creating and exploiting intellectual property.

"Innovation is fundamental to our future competitiveness and economic success. The effective implementation of innovation-friendly policies can lead to sustainable growth and increased productivity,” concluded McCoy.

Chamber welcomes report of Taskforce on Innovation

The American Chamber of Commerce in Ireland today welcomed the publication, saying that it demonstrates recognition by Government that Ireland will need a step change in its programmes and policies to secure future prosperity driven by Innovation and continued inward investment.

“In today’s global trading environment, intense competition means we need to look to new areas of innovation and added value to generate and sustain our economic success. Ireland needs to continue to offer something distinctive and we welcome the series of measures identified by the Taskforce which aim to make Ireland a global innovation hub which continues to attract foreign direct investment,” said Mike Devane, head of the American Chamber Research & Development group.

The American Chamber’s ‘Retuning the Growth Engine’ paper identified collaboration as critical to driving the commercialization of Research in Ireland. The Chamber believes that without the engagement of the FDI base, research activities and programmes in Ireland will not generate enterprise to sufficiently address the economy’s employment ambitions. We very much welcome the recommendations of the Taskforce in this regard. Creating a collaborative culture where multinational companies, indigenous companies, government and the education sector work together to drive innovation and create new enterprise will ultimately yield a greater return on investment for the benefit of our economy.

The Government is itself well positioned to be a driver of innovation in this country, utilising state assets and resources. As it seeks to reform and deliver efficiencies in the public sector it can acquire innovative processes and expertise from companies and thereby help to create a world class reference site for marketing this innovation abroad.

Investing 3% of GDP in research and development is a minimum requirement if Ireland is to bring the vision outlined in the Innovation Taskforce report to reality. But the outputs of this significant investment must be measured and must be realized for the benefit of the country of Ireland rather than for individual universities or organizations. The American Chamber believes the underlying objective of this investment should be to evolve the country into a vital global research and commercialisation hub where innovation is our trademark. This, together with a ‘can do’ attitude will make a real and lasting contribution to the economy by generating value, wealth and exports.

Devane said; “Most importantly, the Taskforce recognizes the need to consolidate and retain existing investment while seeking new mandates. In this regard it is important to continue to attract large capital intensive projects in manufacturing where research and innovation are an integral part of excellence in advance manufacturing. Ireland must continue to address its competitiveness issues. For Innovation to grow – whether from the existing base of companies or from new investment we must have an economy which can compete on a cost basis with other locations”.

The American Chamber of Commerce looks forward to engaging with the Taoiseach and his department on the successful implementation of the Innovation Taskforce Recommendations. The implementation of the recommendations of the Innovation Taskforce requires vision and leadership and will demand that we take bold steps to invest in the future. This requires firm commitment and leadership from the Government together with significant effort on the part of industry and buy-in from all stakeholders.

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