Irish Innovation: €300m for 7 'world class' research centres to boost failed policy
By Michael Hennigan, Finfacts founder and editor
Feb 25, 2013 - 3:07 PM

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Richard Bruton, minister for jobs, enterprise and innovation

Irish Innovation:  The Government today announced the investment of €300m in what it termed 7 'world class' research centres to boost what we view as a  failed policy.

What George Orwell described as "euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness" can be found in the common use of the term 'world-class' in Ireland, which was vividly illustrated by an Irish Times report on 10 Oct, 2010 titled: "Fás board to agree plan for new 'world-class' skills body".

So while 'world class' is part of the spin lexicon of Irish policymakers, there was a goal set in 2006 to be recognised as a 'world class knowledge economy' by 2013.  The failure to reach the target has been ignored and 2020 is now the date of a new aspiration to have the most productive research output in the world.

Ireland was at 27th in the 2012/2013 World Economic Forum competitiveness index compared with 11th in 2001. In 2011, patent filings at the Irish Patents Office fell to a 30-year low.

Irish Economy: Innovation, a failed enterprise policy and inconvenient facts for 2013

Irish Innovation: Foreign firms accounted for 71% of claimed R&D business spending in 2011

Multinationals in Ireland do not do significant research in the country and few patents are filed. See paper via first link above.

€200 million of Irish exchequer funding will be invested in seven 'world class' research centres of scale. The new funding will be delivered through Science Foundation Ireland’s (SFI) Research Centres Programme coupled with over €100m in cash and in-kind contributions from industry partners, making it the largest ever combined state/industry co-funding announcement of its kind in the research field in Ireland. The funding will be provided over the next six years with a mid-term review.

There is a 25% R&D spending tax credit available to companies that is claimed via self-assessment.

Science Foundation Ireland said 156 industry partners are connected to the centres, spanning multinationals and SMEs, including Cisco, Hewlett Packard, Microsoft, Medtronic, GSK, Pfizer, Eli Lilly, BT, Kerry Group, The Irish Times, ESB, Alere, RTE, Intune Networks, Intel, IBM, Roche, UTRC Ireland and many more.

Among the research activities funded are:

  • “Big Data”, a sector currently growing at up to 40% per annum;
  • Advanced food research based around microbes which live in the gut;
  • World-leading research to take advantage of Ireland’s natural advantages in marine energies;
  • Research to develop screening and diagnostic tests for perinatal and neonatal conditions

The seven centres involve a collaborative partnership across research institutions in Ireland with participation from University College Cork, University College Dublin, Tyndall National Institute (UCC), Trinity College Dublin, University of Limerick, NUI Galway, Dublin City University, Cork Institute of Technology, Teagasc, the Marine Institute, Geological Survey Ireland, Royal College of Surgeons and CSO Cork amongst others.

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