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News : Innovation Last Updated: Dec 12, 2013 - 2:23 PM

Irish Innovation: Bruton launches Big Data research centre; Aspirations, no performance metrics
By Finfacts Team
Dec 12, 2013 - 2:14 PM

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Dublin, Dec 10, 2013: Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, EU commissioner for research, innovation and ccience, (right) with Seán Sherlock, minister for research and Dr. Imelda Lambkin, director of Ireland’s support network for Horizon 2020 at the Irish launch of Horizon 2020. With a budget of almost €80bn it is the EU’s largest ever fund for research and innovation and is open to applications for companies and researchers. Credit Gary O' Neill

Irish Innovation: Richard Bruton, enterprise, innovation and jobs minister, today launched  a Big Data research centre known as the Insight Centre for Data Analytics which under the control of Science Foundation Ireland, the State agency, is a joint project between DCU, NUI Galway, UCC and UCD, Insight, and other partner institutions, "brings together more than 200 researchers from these and other higher education institutions, with 30 industry partners, to position Ireland at the heart of global data analytics research." There are lots of aspirations for Ireland to take on the world but no performance metrics.

The Centre will receive funding of €58m from the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation through SFI’s Research Centres Programme, along with a further contribution of €30m from 30 industry partners.

Insight will work with more than 30 industry partners, ranging from small Irish startups to established SMEs and large multinationals, "on a range of projects to advance data analytics technologies in Ireland. Industry partners include RTÉ, The Irish Times, Cisco, Microsoft, Alcatel-Lucent, Santry Sports Clinic, the IRFU, Avaya, TE Labs, TreeMetrics, NitroSell, Avego, UTRC , Shimmer and many more."

This is another collaboration project where no one firm has the confidence to invest alone and the big number involved is unusual. We have asked the Department for details on what happens when the money runs out and the basis of the investment split?

The Government said Insight will lead to the creation of 300 direct jobs, as well as to the training of the next generation of data analytics experts. "Over the next six years, Insight research is expected to result in 12 new spin out companies, approximately 50 patent filings, and over 50 technology licenses, leading to thousands of indirect jobs in the data analytics sector."

The OECD said in its Economic Survey of Ireland 2013:

  • "Reflecting significant uncertainties about the effectiveness of various innovation policy tools, independently and regularly evaluate all actions in this area, strengthen programmes with proven higher returns, and wind down the others. To promote effective evaluation, ensure all innovation and enterprise supports have sunset clauses.
  • The number of programmes and agencies multiplied during the period of booming growth. There are now over 170 separate budget lines, sometimes for very small amounts of money, and 11 major funding agencies involved in disbursing the Science Budget, although it is small by international standards. This fragmentation raises overheads, risks duplication and hampers resource reallocation. Gains would be achieved by consolidating funding into a drastically smaller number of agencies, with one group dealing with science and basic research, and another with applied research and innovation. This should be coupled with a high-level co-ordination committee to prevent gaps or duplication. This division between basic research and business-orientated innovation is the norm in almost all other small OECD countries and reflects the large differences in the types of activities, rationales for support and policy instruments. Consolidation would also make it easier to evaluate the overall economic impact of the innovation system and improve the Government’s ability to direct investment for maximum returns."

This week it was announced that the Cork-based quality management software firm Qumas has been acquired by a US buyer for $50m (€36m) - -  this is the typical route for an Irish high tech firm with potential.

Finfacts: Irish Innovation: Evidence of science policy failure mounts

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