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News : Innovation Last Updated: Dec 12, 2012 - 8:53 AM

Irish Innovation Bill: Bruton & Sherlock promise to turn 'good ideas into good jobs'
By Michael Hennigan, Finfacts founder and editor
Dec 12, 2012 - 8:48 AM

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Irish Innovation: Richard Bruton, minister for jobs, enterprise and innovation and Seán Sherlock, minister of state for research and innovation, today announced the publication of the Industrial Development (Science Foundation Ireland) (Amendment) Bill 2012, following agreement by Government. The purpose of the Bill is to extend the remit of Science Foundation Ireland to enable it to fund applied research in addition to its existing remit to fund oriented basic research. The ministers promise to turn 'good ideas into good jobs' but they continue to ignore the evidence of failure.

Last March an official taskforce recommended 14 research priority areas with a view to increasing the level of commercialisation. However,  a small economy such as Ireland's with foreign companies dominating the internationally tradeable goods and services sectors, cannot create a jobs engine from research. Besides, university research has never triggered significant commercialisation anywhere.

Irish Science Policy: 2020 replaces 2013 as target to be 'best country in...world for scientific research'

Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) provides grants to researchers and research groups based in higher education institutions on the basis of competitive calls for proposals and on the basis of international peer review. The extension of SFI’s remit to include applied research will take the outcome of oriented basic research funded by SFI closer to market which in turn increases the potential of research to yield commercial opportunities and jobs.

The Bill also includes a new function to enable SFI to promote and support awareness and understanding of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The minister for jobs, enterprise and innovation transferred responsibility for delivery of the Discover Science and Engineering programme from Forfás to SFI on an administrative basis with effect from 1 March 2012.

The Bill also provides for certain amendments to existing legislation relating to Forfas, Shannon Development and Enterprise Ireland, as part of the Government’s plan for the creation of "an international aviation centre of excellence" in the Shannon region, previously announced.

Bruton said: “This Bill is part of a series of changes the Government is putting in place to get more out of the State’s investment in this area, including a research prioritisation exercise, a one-stop shop for commercialising research and a new highly ambitious strategy from SFI which aims to become the best science funding agency in the world. This legislation will ensure that SFI has the mandate to carry out not only basic research but also applied research, filling a crucial gap in our research architecture and helping to turn good ideas into the good jobs we need”.

There is limited evidence of success in commercialisation of university research. The OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) says there is "little evidence of success" in the commercialisation of university research and licensing fee income for universities is insignificant as a ratio of research spending in both the US (3.4%) and the UK (1.1%).

Commercialisation is incidental to university research and spinouts rarely have significant success.

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