Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Questions (102)

Fergus O'Dowd


102. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation her priorities as part of Project Ireland 2040; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30443/18]

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Written answers (Question to Business)

As the Deputy will be aware, Project Ireland 2040 seeks to achieve ten National Strategic Outcomes, around the overarching themes of well-being, equality and opportunity. The National Development Plan 2018-2027 commits a total of almost €116 billion to underpin the implementation of the National Strategic Outcomes identified in Project Ireland 2040.

Aligned with Enterprise 2025 Renewed, our aim in Ireland 2040 is to achieve sustainable full employment, to bring unemployment rates in all regions down to within 1 percentage point of the national average and to progress greater convergence in productivity in the regions. This requires a competitive, innovative and resilient enterprise base, which is essential to provide the jobs and employment opportunities for people to live and prosper in all regions.

The priorities I and my Department will be focusing on include:

- Further expansion of Advanced Manufacturing Supports linking centres and capacity across all regions.

- The €500m Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund which I recently launched, that will allow Ireland become a leader in future technologies, through funding projects on a competitive basis.

- Strengthening Science Foundation Ireland Research Centres and Enterprise Ireland Technology Centres in higher education facilities across all regions.

- The upgrading of the Tyndall National Institute in Cork.

- Facilitating Institutes of Technologies in creating new regional ‘Technology and Innovation Poles’.

- A New Space Technologies Programme, to the benefit of firms in the regions

- New cycles of the Programme for Research in Third Level Institutions, benefitting higher education in all regions.

- New Regional Sectorial Clusters to scale and internationalise enterprise in all regions.

- Providing the appropriate types of firm level supports in the context of Brexit to enable business transformation, building firm resilience and strengthening firm competitiveness.

- Expanding the Enterprise Ireland budget for research and development.

- Expanding IDA Regional Property Programme to attract investment to regions, with a particular focus on the border region.

- The creation of a National Design Centre.

- Seed and Venture Capital Funding to support regional start-ups and growth eHubs for entrepreneurship and start-ups in every county.

- Participation in the EU High Performance Computing Programme.I

- increases in the number of researchers trained under my Department’s research, development and innovation (RD&I) programmes.

To further strengthen rural economies and communities, under the Regional Action Plan for Jobs (RAPJ) process, the focus on enterprise development and employment generation in the regions has intensified through a collaborative approach involving both public and private sector stakeholders in the regions. The RAPJ is also supported through competitive calls for enterprise initiatives under the Regional Enterprise Development Fund, with €30m to be allocated in 2018. This will continue to be rolled out in the first five years of the Plan delivered through Enterprise Ireland.

Further, my Department and the enterprise development agencies are engaging with the three Regional Authorities on the development of their Regional Spatial and Economic Strategies (RSES) which are an important next step in implementing the Ireland 2040 plan. These will for the first time put regional planning on a statutory basis, and will play an important role in directing investments towards realising the full potential of our regions as dynamic places to live and work.