Written Answers. - Research Facilities.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

676 Mr. O'Shea asked the Minister for Education and Science the proposal he has to introduce a significant floor funding initiative for regions without a university in order that a research capacity can be developed within all regions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8145/01]

A sum £550 million is being provided under the National Development Plan 2000-2006 towards research, technological development and innovation in the third level sector. The aim of the education RTDI, which is partially co-funded under the European Regional Development Fund, is to support the development of a world class research environment in higher education in Ireland.

The education RTDI comprises four sub-measures, namely: basic support for research and electronic communications, project based and individual research, technological sector research and strategic research, including North-South co-operation.

The £550 million is targeted primarily at publicly funded third level institutions including universities and institutes of technology. In view of the wide geographical spread of such institutions, most areas of the country will benefit directly from education RTDI funding. In addition, this substantial investment in third level research will increase the availability of highly skilled researchers in the labour force and will provide greater scope for collaboration on research between education and other sectors of the economy. This in turn will contribute to economic growth and will lead to benefits for all areas of the country.
Balanced regional development and collaboration between the third level sector and industry are at the heart of the measures provided for in the national development plan. The designation of the country into two regions, border, midland and west and southern and eastern aims to achieve more balanced development by increasing the presence in each region of the key drivers of sustainable economic growth. The measures under the education RTDI complement a wide range of other measures under the productive sector operational programme and indeed, measures under other NDP operational programmes. My Department is working closely with the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment to strengthen research capacity, to promote collaboration between industry and the third level sector and to ensure maximum benefits for the economy and society generally.