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
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
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.
“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
Commercialisation is incidental to university research and spinouts rarely have
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