Wednesday, 2 October 2013
Industrial Development (Science Foundation Ireland)(Amendment) Bill 2012: [Seanad Bill amended by the Dáil] Report and Final Stages
With the Cathaoirleach's permission, I welcome the young ladies from Loreto secondary school in Clonmel to the Seanad.
I thank the Members for their constructive and positive approach to the consideration of this Bill. To preface my report to the House on the two amendments made to the Bill by Dáil Éireann, which are grouped together for the purposes of this debate, I will note briefly that the principal changes extending the remit of Science Foundation Ireland, SFI, through this legislation relate back to section 7 of the Industrial Development (Science Foundation Ireland) Act 2003. The latter deals with the functions of SFI and sets out the strategic scientific areas in which it is required to operate. While section 4 of the Bill provides for a number of amendments to SFI's functions, the primary purpose of the legislation is to extend the foundation's remit to enable it to fund applied research in addition to its existing remit to fund oriented basic research.
Two amendments were accepted in Dáil Éireann in respect of section 4 of the Bill, which amends section 7(1)(g) of the principal Act. An entirely new provision is being introduced to enable SFI to fund research aimed at enhancing the evidence base for the effectiveness of its investments. In this context, section 7(1)(g), as originally framed, provided for SFI to undertake:
(i) the development of research to assess the impact of research activities funded wholly or partly by the Foundation,The amendments accepted in Dáil Éireann introduced the words "and publication" into both sub-clauses, thereby providing for the publication of the findings of any such research the foundation conducts into the impact of its research activities. The two amendments presented no difficulties because publication of such research findings was always intended and so both were accepted. Those Senators who are familiar with the operations of SFI will be aware that it is a very open and progressive organisation that regularly publishes an array of material on its website, www.sfi.ie, highlighting developments arising from the activities it supports.
(ii) the assessment of research activities funded wholly or partly by the Foundation.