Government publishes ambitious Innovation Strategy

Innovation is a key part of overall jobs strategy Enterprise 2025, aimed at delivering full employment

The Minister for Skills, Research, Innovation Damien English TD, together with the Taoiseach and the Minister for Jobs, today (8th December 2015) published Innovation 2020, Ireland’s 5-year strategy for research and development, science and technology.

This innovation plan is a key element of the Government’s overall jobs strategy, Enterprise 2025 aimed at building a new economy based on exports and enterprise, and delivering full employment on a sustainable basis.

The strategy is aimed at building on the significant successes delivered by the Government’s science strategy over the past decade, which has seen Ireland dramatically improve its performance globally in this area. The next phase of the strategy is aimed at building on existing infrastructures and achieving ambitious private-public collaborations.

A key ambition of the Strategy is to increase total investment in R&D in Ireland, led by the private sector, to 2.5% of GNP. On current official projections, this would mean that over €5billion will be invested per year in R&D by the private and public sectors by 2020. This will represent almost doubling current levels of investment (€2.9billion in 2014).

Among the other ambitious targets to be delivered by the strategy are: 

  • the number of research personnel in enterprise will be increased by 60% to 40,000
  • research masters and PhD enrolments will be increased by 30% to 2,250
  • private investment of R&D performed in the public research system will be doubled
  • 40% increase in the share of PhD researchers transferring from SFI research teams to industry
  • Ireland's participation in International Research Organisations will be expanded – we will apply for full membership of ELIXIR, and we will explore membership options for CERN and ESO
  • the network of Research Centres will be further developed, building critical mass and addressing enterprise needs
  • a successor to the Programme for Research in Third Level Institutions will be rolled out to include investment in the creation of new, and the maintenance and upgrading of existing, facilities and equipment and ensure full utilisation
  • €1.25billion funding under the EU Framework Programme Horizon 2020 will be drawn down;
  • a new Programme of Funding for Frontier Research will be introduced, providing resilience and responsiveness to meet new challenges or opportunities as they emerge
  • challenge-centric research will be initiated to stimulate solutions-driven collaborations bringing together enterprise, higher education institutions and public sector to identify and address national challenges
  • horizon-scanning – in the coming years a formal horizon-scanning exercise will be  undertaken to identify areas of strategic commercial opportunity for Irish-based enterprises. This process will feed into the next research  prioritisation exercise in 2018
  • international benchmarking – we will benchmark Ireland’s performance in these areas against other comparable economies, and develop steps to improve our comparative performance

Launching the report, Minister for Skills, Research and Innovation, Damien English TD said: “Developing the talent of our population is an underlying aim of Innovation 2020 and will be critical to the successful realisation of our national vision, of Ireland as an innovation leader. Our success in delivering on our vision will depend on our people - undertaking the research, working in and creating successful enterprises, and contributing to the society in which we live. We will support talent development from primary level through to Postdoctoral research and from frontier research across all disciplines to practical application. We will support the successful deployment of that talent and research in driving innovation in enterprises and public services.”

An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny TD said: "Innovation 2020 is a key element in our plan to keep the recovery going by helping to create new jobs and new opportunities for research. It sets out a vision in which Ireland would become a Global Innovation Leader, with research, development, science and technology all contributing to this goal. Our reputation for research excellence has been a major catalyst in our success in attracting and maintaining foreign direct investment, and this Strategy demonstrates that we remain strongly committed to maintaining and improving standards in the excellence of our research."

The Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton TD said: “At the heart of our overall jobs strategy is rebuilding a sustainable economy based on enterprise, exports and innovation, to replace the failed economy based on debt and property that was built up during the last decade. A key part of this is improving our performance in innovation. In recent years we have built up a base of performance in innovation that has brought us into the top 10 of the international rankings – the aim now is to improve on this, and truly make Ireland a global leader in this area. This strategy sets out a range of ambitious actions for delivering on this, and under the leadership of Minister Damien English I am confident that we can deliver on this – with massive impact on our ability to grow the economy and create the jobs we need”.

Welcoming the launch of the strategy, Professor Mark WJ Ferguson, Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland, said: “I welcome the new strategy Innovation 2020 which highlights the importance of scientific research and innovation to all aspects of Ireland’s future and which confirms the Government’s commitment to increase both public and private investment in this area. Innovation 2020 builds on the considerable past successes and outlines some ambitious new plans such as challenge based funding. Science, innovation and technology are driving rapid global changes and the world is becoming more competitive. Ireland needs to continue to push forward: be the creators and owners of new ideas and innovations, upskill our people, strengthen and future proof our economy and society. Implementation of Innovation 2020 will allow us to do that: excellence, talent and impact.”

Innovation 2020 (PDF).