|The merging of the research capabilities of Ireland's two top universities, is a positive move and is a better use of what is mainly a tax-funded endeavour.
I'm an optimist and entrepreneur but having had a dose of jargon such as "state of the art" and "cutting edge" from Ministers of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Mary Coughlan and Micheál Martin, in recent years, which didn't even provide a veneer for their vacuity and ignorance, I'm dubious when intelligent people take the same tack.
What you may ask is a "a world-class ecosystem"?
While the development of a national research competence is important, I have highlighted in the past, that a programme, which will cost over €8 billion, by 2013, has received so little attention from members of the Oireachtas, either because of ignorance or lack of interest.
Data on amounts spent are published and last week, it was reported, that 13,900 R&D researchers were employed in 2007.
No information is published on the commercialisation of patents from university research.
There is an argument, that universities and governments shouldn't focus all their resources on the conventional spin-off model, which is often only a relatively small part of the overall picture.
Steve Hsu, Professor of Physics at the University of Oregon has said: "Basic research tends to be underfunded primarily because the inventor seldom captures the lions share of future returns. This makes it less appealing to private investors compared to small optimizations (applications of existing technology) which lead more directly to products and profits. Therefore, funding for basic research must come from the public sector. Societies typically spend too little rather than too much, as future returns are diffuse and have no singular advocate."
UCC economists Declan Jordan and Eoin O'Leary, said in a 2007 paper, that the Government policy is based on a "science-push" view of innovation, where scientific laboratories are the source of the new products and processes introduced in Irish businesses.
"It overlooks the majority of business innovations that are non-technological, the shining example of which is Ryanair," they wrote. "It is also misguided in that business innovation is usually market-led. Historically, third-level institutes have rarely been the main source of business innovation in any country."
In their first survey of 184 high-technology businesses in 2004, Jordan and O'Leary found that the greater the frequency of direct interaction with academics, the lower the probability of both product and process innovation.
A study of a high-tech corridor in Texas found, that the growth of start-ups was higher than other regions but the failure rate was no different.
As to spawning another Nokia, no Irish tech company has annual revenues above $100 million and the general route is for promoters to cash-out at a low-scale size.
Last year, Ireland's biggest home-grown tech company Iona Technologies, was acquired by an American company of more recent vintage.
Should that have some relevance for policymakers?
Innovation; The Venturesome Economy and Ireland
The Irish Mind
Letter from Shanghai - - Prof Seamus Grimes, NUI Galway
- - Michael Hennigan