I thank the Deputy for raising this issue, which the Minister, Deputy Humphreys, and I talk about all the time as we travel around the country. Embracing innovation is essential in ensuring that we build a resilient enterprise base and support a sustainable economy that can withstand significant challenges such as those posed by Brexit. Innovation drives productivity - as we all know - through new, higher value-added products and services and more efficient business processes. Ireland continues to perform strongly in terms of innovation. The annual European innovation scoreboard, published this month by the European Commission, shows that amid increased innovation performance across the EU, Ireland remains a strong innovator and, in tenth place, remains one of the most innovative member states, above the EU average.
I am particularly pleased with Ireland’s success in converting our research, development and innovation efforts into high quality jobs, sales and exports, as demonstrated by our position on the European innovation scoreboard for employment and sales impacts. Under the Future Jobs Ireland strategy which was launched in March, the Government will build a framework to ensure Irish enterprises are prepared for all future challenges and opportunities. Pillar 1, embracing innovation and technological change, calls out measures to promote indigenous entrepreneurship and encourage clustering and stronger links between domestic and foreign-owned firms.
Through its agencies, the Department drives and supports greater engagement in research, development and innovation by Irish and foreign-owned enterprises, small and medium enterprises, SMEs, and large-scale enterprises. Our research shows that companies investing in research, development and innovation have 3.6 times the exports and almost double the employment of companies that do not invest. Enterprise Ireland provides a wide range of supports for companies to support innovation, competitiveness and market diversification, while Science Foundation Ireland leads major elements of Ireland's innovation agenda. Examples of the initiatives being taken include building large-scale centre investments that leverage significant non-Exchequer funding, challenge-based funding and support for talent and training in important areas such as artificial intelligence, digital, collaborative partnerships, recruiting outstanding researchers to Ireland, cross-Border collaboration and enhancing international engagement as part of building Ireland’s global footprint.