My Department, and the relevant State Agencies under its remit, have a clear focus on the development and support of manufacturing and services firms in Ireland. In order that enterprises can be successful and thrive and grow, they must be efficient, competitive and innovative. In this regard, realizing the potential to increase efficiency and improve competitiveness across Irish enterprises has driven a spectrum of innovation and technology development programmes delivered by Enterprise Ireland, IDA and Science Foundation Ireland. These enterprise development Agencies provide financial, technical and experiential support to help manufacturing and services companies become more innovative and more efficient. These programmes encourage and support companies to increase competitiveness, grow their sales and exports and thus develop a basis for sustained and increased employment.
Enterprise Ireland, the agency responsible for the development and promotion of the indigenous business sector, is focused on the growth of world-class Irish companies to achieve strong positions in global markets. Enterprise Ireland provides research, development and technological innovation support relevant at all stages of company development, enabling companies to progress from undertaking an initial research project to higher level innovation and R&D activities. Enterprise Ireland funds the undertaking of R&D to support significant in-company projects which have the potential to develop new processes, products and services.
In addition, Enterprise Ireland is engaged in efforts to extract maximum value from Ireland's research system — the objective is to work with companies to secure commercial purpose, leading to jobs and sales, for technologies and ideas developed in Irish research institutions. Enterprise Ireland also operates a range of supports to help companies engage with third level researchers to undertake collaborative research for the benefit of the company. Larger collaborative research projects involving groups of companies are also supported.
The core role of Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) is to develop and assist the carrying out of oriented basic research in strategic areas for the development and competitiveness of Irish based industry. At present the SFI remit covers the three specific areas of Biotechnology; Information & Communications Technology; and Sustainable Energy/Energy Efficient Technologies (Energy). During 2012 the Government will be extending SFI's remit to include the capacity to fund both basic and applied research and this will help derive further impacts from the research investment to contribute further to Ireland's economic development.
SFI invests in assembling world-class research teams, and in increasing the number of high quality researchers in Ireland so as to make available new scientific knowledge, increased commercial opportunities, and a larger pool of available talent to the Irish workforce — all of which can assist the effort to achieve efficiency and competitiveness gains across various sectors of Ireland's economy.
SFI funded researchers involvement with Irish based enterprise continues to grow significantly. The number of SFI researcher collaborations with industry in Ireland has doubled since 2008 to in excess of 530 companies now. These companies employ over 82,000 people in Ireland and through their connectivity with SFI funded researchers, the companies can often avail of new ideas, processes and products to enhance their respective operations.
Research, Development and Innovation plays its strategic role as part of Ireland's FDI landscape, embedding existing employment and setting the groundwork for increased future employment. The IDA continues to attract high-quality Foreign Direct Investment projects to Ireland and increasingly Innovation and Technological Development plays a key role in this endeavour. IDA Ireland leverages significant investment in Science Technology and Innovation, at present half the FDI wins are Research and Innovation projects and in 2010 there were 37 investments, worth around €500m. IDA is focused on winning new investments, in particular in sectors such as Life Sciences (Pharma, Biopharma and Medical Devices), ICT and Financial Services.
In overall terms that IDA and Enterprise Ireland client companies directly accounted for the employment of approximately 300,000 people in the Irish economy. These companies also supported an estimated additional 300,000 indirect jobs.