I thank the Deputy for her important question. Ireland has developed a reputation for excellence in research and development and we continue to perform well at international level. We rose to ninth place in the 2018 European innovation scoreboard and stand at tenth in the 2018 global innovation index. Overall expenditure on research and development in Ireland has been increasing steadily since 2012 and is estimated to have reached €3.4 billion in 2017, which is the highest figure on record.
Innovation 2020 is Ireland’s whole-of-Government strategy for research and development, science, and technology, and is driven by my Department. The Government’s ambition is for Ireland to become a global innovation leader. This is the key vision of Innovation 2020. Since the publication of Innovation 2020, direct Exchequer funding for research and development has increased from €736 million in 2015 to an estimated €751 million in 2018. This is the highest level of public expenditure on research and development since 2012. My Department’s research and development budget for 2018 was €357.6 million. The Minister and I secured a further €10.74 million in negotiations during the Supplementary Estimates process.
I recognise that investment in innovation is an essential component in developing the economic and social infrastructure necessary to ensure a resilient and competitive enterprise base and to make many societal changes. Innovation is a common thread running through many Government policies, including the national development plan, NDP, Project Ireland 2040, and Enterprise 2025 Renewed.
It is estimated that businesses accounted for more than 70% of Ireland’s gross expenditure on research and development investment in 2017, which is interesting. This is the third highest level of private investment in the EU. With this investment, the multinational companies and businesses in Ireland are sending out a statement that they find our research competent, excellent, strategic, and to be at high European and world levels.