Written Answers. - Industrial Development.

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

47 Mr. Deenihan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the steps being taken, in conjunction with the Department of Education and Science regarding the third level education sector, to improve the business climate at regional level given its influence on the conditions in which organic growth in each region is sustained. [7008/01]

Balanced regional development is a cornerstone of the strategies being pursued by this Government. A co-ordinated approach to regional development, based on driving growth in regional enterprise, has been adopted across the board by my Department, the Department of Education and Science, the regional assemblies, and the industrial development agencies such as Enterprise Ireland, Shannon Development and IDA Ireland.

The designation of the country into two regions, Border, midland and west – BMW – and southern and eastern – S&E – aims to achieve more balanced development by increasing the presence in each region of the key drivers of sustainable economic growth. The third level sector is viewed as a vital component of the innovation system in each region.

The operational programme for each region contains a sub-measure on regional innovation strategies, which is intended to strengthen the regional innovation infrastructure by facilitating the provision of incubation and commercial research and development space for the development and establishment of high potential businesses. Funds will be made available under this measure, which was launched in February 2001, to the institutes of technology to develop and expand incubation space and commercial research and development facilities.
The research technological development and innovation – RTDI – measures under the national development plan also makes provision for a number of complimentary measures which harness the regional technological infrastructure to enable existing firms to grow and to influence the rate at which firms are set up, including regionally led studies and innovation networks. The process of rolling out the programmes to give effect to these initiatives is currently under way.
In addition to these specific measures geared directly towards the needs of the regions, I am co-operating closely with the Minister for Education and Science to strengthen linkages between the business and third level sectors, and a range of schemes are in operation to address this issue. Both my Department and the Department of Education and Science through their respective programmes for research under the National Development Plan 2000-2006, are seeking to put in place the supports necessary to maintain Ireland's position at the cutting edge of research and technology. My Department administers a number of measures promoting collaboration between industry and the third level sector. These are also part of the £1.2 billion allocation for industrial research, technological development and innovation under the national development plan.
In order to provide increased scope for greater collaboration between the third level sector and industry it is necessary to improve the research skills and capacity of all third level institutions. The Department of Education and Science is tackling this through a £550 million investment in research, technological development and innovation in the third level sector over the course of the national development plan. The programme is aimed at supporting the development of a world class research environment in higher education in Ireland.
I am confident that the combination of all of these measures will provide the necessary linkages and collaboration between the third level sector and industry at regional level so as to stimulate economic growth.