I propose to take Questions Nos. 145 to 161, inclusive, together.
The Innovation Task Force report starts from the premise that Ireland needs to find new sources of competitive advantage that will provide high quality sustainable jobs and economic growth. The central premise of the report is a call for a sustained national effort to build a successful innovation ecosystem centred on innovative enterprises and the entrepreneur. The Report makes a wide range of recommendations in areas such as intellectual property, venture capital, the higher education system, procurement, convergence, sectoral issues, taxation, enterprise agency supports and structures, broadband infrastructure, marketing and implementation.
The overall importance of the Task Force recommendations is that they constitute a whole of government approach to realising this important strand of our economic recovery. Given the subject matter of the Task Force Report and the centrality of my Department's role in furthering the objectives of the Smart Economy a very large proportion of the recommendations have been assigned to myself as Minister for ETI and my Department as lead actors for their implementation.
I have outlined above the sectors comprehended by the recommendations in the Task Force Report. While the totality of recommendations constitutes a single overarching policy agenda, there is a considerable range among individual recommendations with regard to envisaged timescales and costs, whether recommendations are ongoing or once off and whether the recommendations are new initiatives or build on existing work in progress.
Accordingly, I have, as a priority, asked my Department to review the current state of play on each of the recommendations for which we have lead responsibility.
This review will enable us to ascertain those issues where we can move immediately to implementation, where we need to constitute expert working groups as specified by the Task Force and where we need to engage closely with our agencies and other Government Departments to progress implementation.
Many of the recommendations have significant cost implications, and as such will need to be considered by Government in the context of resource re-prioritisation. In due course I can bring any such proposals to the Cabinet Committee on Economic Renewal for consideration.
As with other lead actors the work of my Department and its associated agencies will be presented to the High Level Implementation Committee, whose establishment and oversight role is provided for in the ITF Report. I propose to discuss with the Taoiseach the optimal organisation and operation of this body.
Consistent with the focus of the ITF Report the Taoiseach, in his recent Ministerial appointments, made a point of increasing the Government's focus on innovation in both the production and use of ideas, technology and processes. This is because of the importance of innovation as a key driver of productivity. It is my priority aim as Minister to place innovation at the heart of enterprise policy, and to that end I will ensure efficient and effective follow up on the ITF recommendations.