| O ’Keeffe announces 50 jobs in financial services software firm, Sept 17, 2010. L - R: Peter Marshall, Managing Director Fi-Tek, Batt O'Keeffe TD, Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation, Barry O'Leary, Chief Executive IDA Ireland.
The Minister for Enterprise, Trade and
Innovation, Batt O’Keeffe today announced another 'top-level' group to draw up a
plan for innovation research priorities. It's a clear recognition that the
shambolic Irish research
strategy is floundering and is badly in need of retooling.
Last May, O'Keefe he would
'lead the drive'to create 117,000 net
new Irish jobs in innovation over the next 10 years by implementing the report
the Innovation Taskforce.Announcing the
membership of a 'high-level implementation' group of
'top industrialists' and public servants
Monday, O’Keeffe described the appointments at the time as 'high-calibre and
The Minister himself has no
business experience, never mind any exposure to innovation; most of the
group were drawn from the Innovation Taskforce which published a flawed report
last March, that guessed between 117,000 and 235,000 jobs could be created in
the high technology and biotech sectors over the coming decade. The targets are
fanciful and are extrapolated from the experience of America's Silicon Valley
where a tech company has a 25% chance to survive 7 years and where the biotech
industry made its first profit after 42 years, in 2008 -- the 3 biggest firms
were responsible for the lion's share of the earnings.
The officially titled 'research
prioritisation steering group', which will be headed by Intel Ireland’s general
manager, Jim O’Hara, will identify up to 20 target areas on which the Government
should focus its allocation of public funding for research and development over
O’Keeffe has asked that work be completed within 12 months with an action plan
for each priority area setting out specific goals over five years. He wants the
group to focus on areas that will yield the best return for taxpayers’
investment in research and, ultimately, create
Announcing the steering group today O’Keeffe said: "We want to identify
research areas that can deliver the best economic dividend for our people
through enterprise development and job creation. This year, the Government is
investing €598m on academic and commercially focused research and development
spread across all Government departments and agencies."
The total annual science budget is about €1bn.
The Minister has asked international
experts who have completed similar exercises in other countries to assist the
The Government’s economic advisory agency, Forfás, will undertake the project
under the guidance of the steering group.
The project will take a year to complete and identify between 10 and 20 priority
areas following extensive consultation.
Finfacts said from the outset
in 2006, on the announcement of plans to spend €8.3bn on Science, Technology and
Innovation by 2013, that there were no specifics provided on how we were going
to become a world class knowledge economy in six years and it raised the
question as to how much was aspiration and if the then minister really knew
himself? The question remains unanswered.
Today's announcement is the fourth
advisory body on research strategy since December 2008.
In March 2010, the Government accepted
the recommendations of the Innovation Taskforce report as it provided some good
headlines and the Opposition remained silent while the research establishment in
the universities endorsed the bonanza of public funds.
In July, Taoiseach Brian Cowen announced
the €500m Innovation Ireland Fund with the hope to win interest from US venture
It appears the feedback on the fairytale
scenario in the Innovation Taskforce report with no credible hard facts to
support its case, has not been positive.
At last, it's willing to look at the
experiences and challenges in other countries.
We have been advocating this position
SEE also: Finfacts article, Aug
Irish Innovation: Ireland banking on the faith-based smart economy strategy