Ireland’s overall investment in research and innovation, that is public and private investment, has been increasing steadily over the past several years. It increased from €2.56 billion in 2011 to an estimated €3.7 billion in 2018 – a rise of 44%.
Ireland’s public investment in research and innovation has also been increasing over the past several years. The Government invested €765.7 million in 2018, the highest amount in 7 years.
However, given the significant growth of the value of GNP, which rose by 84% in the same period, it has not been possible to close the gap to our goal of 2.5% investment in research, development and innovation (RDI) as a percentage of GNP. In 2018, our investment in RDI as a percentage of GNP was estimated at 1.46%.
There is a compelling need to ensure that the importance of funding for research and innovation is kept to the fore across Government. Innovation 2020 , our current strategy, commits all research funding Government departments to increase their research and innovation spend, year on year to 2020.
Significant investment in research and innovation is a key characteristic of the top four Innovation Leaders in the EU. The Government will continue to prioritise investment in research and innovation in order to realise its ambition of becoming a Global Innovation Leader.
Ireland’s research and innovation system continues to be one of the best innovation output performers, making it one of the most efficient performers overall in terms of outputs relative to investment. We are ranked 9th in the EU for innovation performance, outranking 10 other Member States that invested a higher proportion of GDP in 2018.
This is an opportune time for research and innovation in Ireland. The creation of the new Department of Higher and Further Education, Research, Innovation and Science can be a real turning point. The new Department will play a key role in delivering on the Programme for Government's commitments to ensure that we have a fit for purpose research and innovation ecosystem that addresses the key economic and societal challenges thus contributing to the national recovery and building Ireland’s future.
My own Department will be a key partner in promoting innovation in Ireland’s enterprises and setting ambitious goals to ensure that we are well equipped to face the ramifications of Brexit, the COVID-19 pandemic, the climate crisis and the many other challenges in the years ahead.
I wish my colleagues Minister Harris and Minister Collins well with this important brief and look forward to working with them to continue to develop Ireland’s research and innovation system.