Written Answers. - Technological Advances.

Michael Bell

Question:

82 Mr. Bell asked the Minister for Enterprise and Employment if he will consider the establishment of a specialist group to consider and plan for future technological advances in order to place Ireland in the most advantageous position possible to take advantage of such advances in the next five to 15 years. [9010/95]

Technology "Foresight" exercises, along the lines described in the Deputy's question, have been carried out in a number of countries. Most recently, for example, the UK published a set of reports as part of their Technology Foresight Programme designed to identify key market opportunities over the next 15-20 years and the technologies needed to exploit them.

The Tierney report on Science, Technology and Innovation — STI — which I published at the end of March, represented the most fundamental and wide-ranging review of STI in this country. Among its 160 recommendations, the report says the State should assist in identifying emerging technologies and industry niches that will have major impacts. The recommendations are being examined by an inter-departmental task force, under the chairmanship of Mr. John Travers, Chief Executive of Forfás, the Policy Advisory Body for Industry, Science and Technology. The task force is overseen by a Cabinet subcommittee which I chair.

As the recent UK experience proved, technology foresight requires careful planning, a wide variety of inputs and lengthy detailed examination if it is to be worthwhile and valuable. To that end, Forfás will undertake work on the requirements of a technology foresign process this year, examininginter alia the experience in the UK and in some small countries.