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News : Innovation Last Updated: Aug 24, 2010 - 11:45:44 AM

Sweden tops rankings of global technology report for first time; Ireland remains at 24th rank behind Belgium and United Arab Emirates
By Michael Hennigan, Founder and Editor of Finfacts
Mar 26, 2010 - 5:18:54 AM

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Sweden tops the rankings of The Global Information Technology Report 2009-2010, released Thursday by the World Economic Forum. The report highlights the key role of ICT (information and communication technologies) as an enabler of a more economically, environmentally and socially sustainable world in the aftermath of one of the most serious economic crises in decades. Sweden is followed by Singapore and Denmark, which was in the number one position for the last three years. Ireland remained at 24th rank behind Belgium and the United Arab Emirates.

The ninth edition of report covers 133 economies, accounting for over 98% of world’s GDP with China (37th) and India (43rd) leading the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) economies and continuing an upward trend with a 9 and 11 place improvement respectively.

“Sweden, Singapore and Denmark’s superior capacity to leverage ICT as an enabler of sustainable, long-term economic growth is built on similar premises, relating with a long-standing focus placed by governments and private sectors alike on education, innovation and ICT access and diffusion,” said Irene Mia, Senior Economist of the Global Competitiveness Network at the World Economic Forum and co-editor of the report. “The success of these countries underlines the importance of a joint ICT vision, an implementation, by all the different stakeholders in a society for a country to take full advantage of ICT advances in its daily life and overall competitiveness strategy.”

The report is produced by the World Economic Forum in cooperation with INSEAD, the France-based international business school, within the framework of the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Network and the Industry Partnership Programme for Information Technology and Telecommunications Industries.

Under the theme ICT for Sustainability, this year’s report explores the many and diverse links between ICT and sustainability, in all its dimensions.

The Networked Readiness Index (NRI), featured in the report, examines how prepared countries are to use ICT effectively on three dimensions: the general business, regulatory and infrastructure environment for ICT; the readiness of the three key stakeholder groups in a society - - individuals, businesses and governments - - to use and benefit from ICT; and the actual usage of the latest information and communication technologies available.

The NRI uses a combination of data from publicly available sources, as well as the results of the Executive Opinion Survey, a comprehensive annual survey conducted by the World Economic Forum with its network of partner institutes (leading research institutes and business organizations) in the countries included in the report. The survey provides unique data on many qualitative dimensions important to assess national networked readiness.

In a chapter “ICT Supporting the Smart Economy: The Case of Ireland,” author Barry McSweeney (National Knowledge Society Strategy, Ireland/public servant) explains that the combination of ICT and energy is a strong feature of future economic development and a key strategic direction of the 2008 government blueprint for economic recovery, Building Ireland’s Smart Economy. It is also the main theme of the government’s 2009 knowledge society strategy report, Technology Actions to Support the Smart Economy. He says this report features a set of innovative actions including an exemplar communications test-bed based on optical burst switching - - a technology where Ireland is a global leader, supporting the development of energy efficient communication devices and services; an initiative to establish Ireland as a location for energy-efficient data and cloud computing centers; the establishment of an international content services center; the convergence of communications and energy technology in the development of a smart electricity network/grid; the development of a real-time remote water monitoring system; and a combined intelligent traffic/work commuting system.

Barry McSweeney who was Ireland's Chief Scientific Adviser until 2005, when he was appointed as Research Coordinator in the Irish Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources, writes: "The Irish have a long history of curiosity, travel, education, and adapting to new people and settings.

Disadvantages have been turned into advantages. Losing the native language as the vernacular has allowed access to the dominant English-speaking world, being an offshore island of Europe has placed Ireland between the United States and Europe, and emigration first drove a powerful diaspora and now fuels an emerging sense of global Irishness.

The lack of traditional industrial raw materials forces the country to be smart—to be smart in tools and with natural resources. National history has driven an intense commitment to education as the only real access to survival and prosperity. While bad mistakes have been made in the last decade, such as the property bubble, the country continues to thrive in the smart end of economics. History has prepared the nation for an era of serial crises.

Irish culture has always been outward looking; as such, it is a draw for the rest of the world. Success in literature, music, and the other arts are both selling points for Ireland as a place with a high quality of living and the stuff of new digital media industries. The curiosity of a migrant people is now powered by social media, communication, and collaboration tools

The progression from great Irish colleges of education in Europe after the Dark Ages to leadership in e-learning is not accidental - - it is driven by the needs and talents of an ambitious people."

The foregoing shouldn't be confused with cloud computing and we at Finfacts have to regrettably again call time on dreamy myths, blather and aspirations unrelated to reality.

Two weeks ago the prospect of over 200,000 net new jobs in innovation in this decade was touted in the Innovation Ireland Taskforce report on the basis of huge public funding but supported by a flimsy prospectus, absent basic SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis, that a serious start-up would not present as a business plan.

There wasn't even an acknowledgement that in the US, only 25% of tech start-ups reach their seventh anniversary.

Reality Check: aspirations are for political manifestos not the basis of a credible policy or business plan.

SEE: Finfacts articles:

Innovation Ireland Taskforce's aspirational report; US banks / credit-card companies contribute most money for start-ups - - not venture capital companies

Ireland and leadership at a time of crisis

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