Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Ceisteanna (214)

Micheál Martin


214. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the position regarding the Government's priority in investment into research and development. [7485/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Jobs)

The Government’s strategy is to accelerate the economic and societal return on our public investment in science, technology and innovation, to further strengthen enterprise engagement and take-up of public research and to drive commercialisation. The focus is on prioritising public investment in research and development while better exploiting results in order to lead to an acceleration of growth and job creation.

A number of initiatives are being rolled out across Government in support of this strategy, including the following:

- Research Prioritisation seeks to maximise the impact of our spend by focussing the majority of public competitive research funding on 14 priority areas which are most likely to deliver societal and economic impact, particularly in the form of jobs.

- The remit of Science Foundation Ireland has been expanded to cover applied research, aligned with the 14 priority areas to further support the development of research findings into commercial opportunities.

- In order to ensure industry are in a position to exploit opportunities to commercialise the fruits of state investment in R&D, the Intellectual Property Protocol gives more clarity and certainty around ownership of IP emerging from state funded research. A Central Technology Transfer Office has been established to provide an effective interface between industry and the research community.

- The R&D tax credit scheme continues to encourage business to invest in research as seen in recent figures which show Business Expenditure in R&D continuing to grow, creating new product and service innovations that will drive exports, growth and jobs.

- Smart investment in research centres of scale with critical mass will deliver maximum impact on jobs and research excellence.

Evidence, both from the EU and internationally, shows that this strategy is paying off. It was most encouraging to see that the 2014 European Commission’s Innovation Union Scoreboard, published last week, shows Ireland increasing its position from tenth to ninth in the overall ranking of 28 EU Member States. It is particularly encouraging to see that Ireland is the overall leader in the indicator of the economic effects of innovation - this captures the economic success of innovation in employment in knowledge-intensive activities, the contribution of medium and high-tech product exports to the trade balance, exports of knowledge-intensive services, sales due to innovation activities and license and patent revenues from selling technologies abroad. This complements Ireland’s recent ranking of 10th in the Global Innovation Index 2013 which is also a very positive affirmation of our capabilities in this area. Additionally, we are in the top 20 in global international scientific rankings and in particular, Ireland is ranked:

- 1st in molecular genetics,

- 2nd in probiotics,

- 3rd in immunology,

- 6th in nanotechnology,

- 8th in materials science and

- 10th in computer science.

We have also set an ambitious target for Irish researchers of winning funding of €1.25 billion over the lifetime of Horizon 2020. A comprehensive national strategy is being implemented which will direct our engagement in Horizon 2020 and ensure that we maximize the benefits for Ireland.

Finally, despite the economic downturn, we are still on track to achieve our research intensity target under the Europe 2020 Strategy which is to improve the conditions for research and development, in particular with the aim of raising combined public and private investment levels in this sector to 2.5% of GNP (approximately equivalent to 2.0% of GDP). The latest available data show that the research intensity rate for 2012 is 2.13% of GNP (1.72% of GDP).