Written answers

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation

Research and Development Funding

Photo of Clare DalyClare Daly (Dublin North, United Left)
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335. To ask the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the estimated return to the Exchequer from funding for applied research disbursed to private industry in the past year or five years; his views that this represents value for money; and if this return is unknown to him, the basis upon which his Department allocates funding of applied science research over basic research. [15705/15]

Photo of Richard BrutonRichard Bruton (Minister, Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation; Dublin North Central, Fine Gael)
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Maximising the impact of public investment in science, technology and innovation (STI) on jobs, and on economic and social progress is a key priority of the Government. In this context, a number of policy initiatives targeted at accelerating the return on our investment in STI have been introduced. Amongst these is the implementation of the proposals of the Research Prioritisation Group which identified 14 priority areas around which the majority of competitive funding should be targeted. The areas were identified on the basis of existing strengths of the public research system and our enterprise base, opportunities that exist in terms of the global marketplace and areas which can address a national or global challenge to which Ireland should respond. Evidence, from both the EU and internationally, shows that this strategy of accelerating the economic and societal return on our STI investment is paying off. Ireland is ranked third in the EU, according to the European Commission’s "Indicator of Innovation Output”, which measures the extent to which ideas from innovative sectors are able to reach the market, providing better jobs and making Europe more competitive.

All of the national indicators show that our focus on commercialisation of research is having an impact. The number of technologies licensed to industry, which is one of the most relevant indicators of commercialisation performance in the research system, rose significantly from 12 in 2005 to 139 in 2013 and invention disclosures and spin outs also increased substantially during that period. Enterprise Ireland’s collaboration activities produce quantifiable increases in company turnover that are as much as seven times the level of investment in these instruments. For example, a recent independent evaluation of the Innovation Voucher scheme found that for every €1 invested in the scheme, company turnover increased by over €7. Similarly, a recent independent evaluation of the Innovation Partnership programme found that for every €1 invested, company turnover increased by over €6.69. This evaluation also found that, for every €1 of Enterprise Ireland funding invested in the Innovation Partnership programme, €0.50 of industry investment was leveraged, enabling the programme to be 50% larger than it would have been if entirely funded by Enterprise Ireland. These externally validated impacts serve to confirm our approach, while the system of rigorous and continuous programme evaluations ensures that an effective and impactful suite of innovation supports are offered to industry. In addition the Government established Knowledge Transfer Ireland in 2013 which plays a key role in the Irish innovation system and makes it easier for companies to access and use ideas developed through publicly-funded research to develop new products and services and ultimately create jobs and exports.

With regard to the balance of funding for basic and applied research, Government policy has been, and will continue to be, to support research across the full continuum from basic to applied, through to commercialisation of research. Statistical evidence which supports this fact is contained in early figures from the latest survey of investment in Higher Education Research and Development (HERD). This shows that, for the academic year 2012-2013, 50.9% of the total HERD budget was on basic research, which compares to a figure of 55% pertaining to the academic year 2006/07.

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