Tuesday, 8 September 2020

Questions (855)

Rose Conway-Walsh


855. Deputy Rose Conway-Walsh asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science the role his Department will play in terms of direct research funding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21740/20]

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Written answers (Question to Further and Higher Education)

The overarching vision in Innovation 2020, the current national strategy for research and development, science and technology, is for Ireland to become a Global Innovation Leader driving a strong sustainable economy and a better society. Within this, there is a focus on excellence, talent and impact. Innovation 2020 commits research funding Government Departments to ensure that research, development and innovation (RDI) expenditure is afforded a sufficiently high priority and to increase their RDI expenditure year on year.

Prior to the creation of the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, the highest proportion of the state’s funding for research was channelled through the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation and the Department of Education and Skills. As outlined in the Research & Development Budget 2018-2019, these two departments spent €567 million on RDI in 2018, representing almost 75% of public research funding in Ireland which overall amounted to €765 million.

The transfer of functions to thisDepartment has yet to be concluded but it is anticipated that the budgets of major research funders such as Science Foundation Ireland, the Irish Research Council, the Higher Education Authority will be so transferred . These organisations represented almost €400 million of Ireland’s public investment in RDI in 2018.

Prioritising investment in research, development and innovation is critical to find solutions to our key societal and economic challenges. All research funding Government Departments have responsibility for setting their own RDI allocations, and it is a matter for each Department, this Department included,, to renew efforts in the annual Estimates process to ensure that RDI spending is afforded the priority required to deliver on our ambition in Innovation 2020.

The successor strategy to Innovation 2020 will be developed by this Department, in consultation with other relevant Government Departments and agencies, and will reaffirm the need for sustained and increased public and private investment in RDI to address the issues we face.