Thursday, 5 July 2012

Questions (82)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

82 Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation his views on the current orientation of Science Foundation of Ireland which is focusing more on research that will lead to a quick economic return as opposed to blue skies research that is more focused on pure research with longer term outcomes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32899/12]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation)

The Government's strategy in relation to funding research and development in Ireland through Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) is to foster the long term development and competitiveness of enterprise and industry in the State. SFI was established to build a world class research capability in support of this strategy, and the Foundation has been successful in building human and physical research infrastructure over the past decade such that Ireland has ascended the international rankings for research in a number of disciplines.

Consistent with Government policy, as detailed in the Report of the Research Prioritisation Steering Group, the new Intellectual Property Protocol and the Advisory Science Council's Report on the Sustainability of Research Centres, SFI is seeking to build upon the groundwork already put in place by continuing to invest in excellent research and by engendering greater impact from its funded research for the benefit of Ireland. In this context, legislation is in preparation to enable SFI to fund applied research in addition to its existing remit to fund oriented basic research. This will not result in the abandonment of its funding of oriented basic research but is aimed at supporting the further development of ideas and new knowledge towards commercialisation.

Given Ireland's current circumstances there is a need to accelerate the delivery of economic and societal benefits from our investment in research by prioritising resources in areas of opportunity, building closer collaboration between the research base and enterprise and making it easier to commercialise and use new knowledge. However, we recognise that we cannot sustain this without maintaining the world class research base that we have built over the past decade. Therefore we must succeed in both maintaining our research base and accelerating the delivery of the benefits of this investment at the same time and within the resources available.