Dáil debates

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Priority Questions

Departmental Bodies

1:00 pm

Photo of Deirdre CluneDeirdre Clune (Cork South Central, Fine Gael)
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Question 42: To ask the Minister for Enterprise; Trade and Innovation if he will accept all the recommendations contained in the report of the Innovation Taskforce; if he will publish an implementation time line for each of the key and supporting recommendations presented by the Innovation Taskforce; if there are any recommendations contained in the Innovation Taskforce Report which are not accepted by him and the reason for same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19641/10]

Photo of Batt O'KeeffeBatt O'Keeffe (Minister, Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment; Cork North West, Fianna Fail)
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The Innovation Taskforce has identified an ambitious set of recommendations to transform Ireland into a global innovation hub and drive job creation in innovative export-focused sectors. Recent changes in departmental structures have brought innovation to the fore in my new Department of Enterprise, Trade and Innovation, and the Deputy will be aware that the Government has asked that I personally chair a high-level implementation committee to oversee implementation of the report of the taskforce. The implementation committee is composed of top industrialists and Secretaries General of key Departments. CEOs of State agencies and officials from other Departments will also participate in the work of the committee as required.

The Taoiseach has asked all Ministers to prioritise the implementation of recommendations from the Taskforce report for which they are responsible. In that context, I have asked my ministerial colleagues to review the current state of play on each of the recommendations for which they have lead responsibility. This review will enable an initial stocktaking by the implementation committee to ascertain those issues where we can move immediately to implementation, where we need to work in the first instance through expert working groups as specified by the taskforce and where we need to engage closely with agencies and other Departments to progress implementation.

Some recommendations are already being worked on. For example, the taskforce made a number of recommendations relating to the management of intellectual property, IP, and access to state-supported IP. A review has been underway to determine whether the current IP arrangements for publicly-funded research in Ireland were optimum. The implementation of the recommendations arising and specific recommendations of the taskforce are being progressed through the harnessing of the expertise and goodwill of practitioners and experts who have contributed to this work. I will be making further announcements in the coming days on how these skills will be harnessed to progress this agenda.

Implementation of other recommendations will require reprioritisation of resources. These will need to be considered by Government and I will be bringing any such proposals to the Cabinet Committee on Economic Renewal for consideration. Tax proposals will be considered in the context of the budgetary strategy.

Photo of Deirdre CluneDeirdre Clune (Cork South Central, Fine Gael)
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In December 2008 the Government produced its Smart Economy framework, in June 2009 it set up the Innovation Taskforce that reported in March 2010 and this week the Minister established the implementation group for the taskforce recommendations. This is another implementation body, another review group. The Minister stated this implementation group will first, review the recommendations to determine where implementation is possible.

Of the review group he announced this week, eight were already members of the taskforce on innovation. The taskforce on innovation has produced many recommendations. It has given a time line, in terms of immediate, short-term and long-term recommendations, and has given the cost implications. I suggest that much of the review has been done. Let us not have any more reviews. Would we not have immediate implementation because people are frustrated by what they see is yet another body to oversee and to implement?

Photo of Denis NaughtenDenis Naughten (Roscommon-South Leitrim, Fine Gael)
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Another talking shop.

Photo of Batt O'KeeffeBatt O'Keeffe (Minister, Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment; Cork North West, Fianna Fail)
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I would remind Deputy Clune that I when announced the establishment of an implementation group - it is an implementation group, not a review group-----

Photo of Deirdre CluneDeirdre Clune (Cork South Central, Fine Gael)
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In his statement, the Minister stated that it would review the recommendations.

Photo of Batt O'KeeffeBatt O'Keeffe (Minister, Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment; Cork North West, Fianna Fail)
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No, my statement stated, "... the next decade by implementing the report of the Innovation Taskforce". That is what was announced.

The composition of the implementation group includes a majority of private sector persons - nine as against eight - and the idea is that private sector involvement will drive it. The Taoiseach has indicated clearly that it is a cornerstone of our jobs strategy into the future. We are absolutely intent, by me chairing the group, to ensure that there is joined up action and joined up thinking across departmental boundaries and that such will be further advanced by the participation of the persons who are on the taskforce who brought in the recommendations and who are still on that taskforce to drive the implementation.

Photo of Deirdre CluneDeirdre Clune (Cork South Central, Fine Gael)
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Returning to the Minister's first point, his statement states, "The committee will first review the state of play". Let us leave it there.

Will the Minister accept all the recommendations of the taskforce? Are they subject to funding? The Minister mentioned, in his first response, a re-prioritisation of resources.

Returning to his initial response, I welcome what the Minister stated about looking at the IP area, that he set up a review group immediately. That was one of the immediate recommendations of the taskforce.

In another area, the taskforce could create 117,000 jobs over the next ten years. The Minister also said it this week; he supported it. In reply to Deputy Varadkar earlier, he mentioned the Horizon 2020 strategy of IDA Ireland involving 57,000 jobs. Are these separate jobs? Is that 117,000 plus 57,000 or is there an overlap?

Photo of Batt O'KeeffeBatt O'Keeffe (Minister, Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment; Cork North West, Fianna Fail)
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The taskforce as such was looking at a particular aspect of industry and how it could grow that industry. Certainly, its report would be seen as separate. They will merge because IDA Ireland will drive the foreign direct investment and Enterprise Ireland will be involved in the indigenous sector.

What is important from my point of view is that there are parts of the strategy that can be implemented immediately. That is why I have written to my colleagues, the other Ministers, asking them to come back immediately with what areas of the taskforce recommendations apply to them and to show exactly when they can implement those. That is the first aspect.

Photo of Deirdre CluneDeirdre Clune (Cork South Central, Fine Gael)
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They know it applies to them, but it is the time line.

Photo of Batt O'KeeffeBatt O'Keeffe (Minister, Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment; Cork North West, Fianna Fail)
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The second aspect is that there are cost implications in some of the taskforce report recommendations. I am entering into discussions with the Minister for Finance in terms of a capital budget rolling out over the next number of years to take account of the extra costs that will be involved in that report.

Then there are other issues that have budget implications. That will be a matter for Government to decide, but given the fact that the Government has accepted this report-----

Photo of Deirdre CluneDeirdre Clune (Cork South Central, Fine Gael)
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All its recommendations?

Photo of Conor LenihanConor Lenihan (Minister of State, Department of Education and Science; Minister of State, Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources; Minister of State, Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment; Dublin South West, Fianna Fail)
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Yes.

Photo of Batt O'KeeffeBatt O'Keeffe (Minister, Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment; Cork North West, Fianna Fail)
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-----as a cornerstone of its job strategy, then one can only conclude that we are committed to it.