Written answers

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation

Research and Development Funding

Photo of Niall CollinsNiall Collins (Limerick County, Fianna Fail)
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268. To ask the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation her views on the latest findings by the EU’s research and innovation observatory (details supplied) which indicates that research and development funding here is largely focused on multinationals rather than SMEs and that research and development here is below that of average spends by firms in other EU nations; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25211/17]

Photo of Mary Mitchell O'ConnorMary Mitchell O'Connor (Dún Laoghaire, Fine Gael)
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I presume the Deputy is referring to business expenditure in research and development.

It is recognised that Ireland's business expenditure on R&D as a percentage of GDP is less than the EU average. 

However improving the innovative capacity of enterprise (in particular Irish SMEs), and encouraging private investment in R&D are given a high a priority in government policy strategies such as Enterprise 2025, Innovation 2020 and in the 2017 Action Plan for Jobs. Supporting research is a key pillar of Ireland’s enterprise policy given its role in driving productivity, competitiveness and thereby the creation and maintenance of jobs. 

It should be noted that, as indicated in the most recent European Innovation Scoreboard, Ireland leads Europe in economic success stemming from innovation in terms of employment, revenue and exports. We have consistently improved our innovation performance over the last four years moving from 10th place in 2013, to 6th place in 2016. Year on year, Ireland has successfully built up research capacity, a significant reputation for research excellence and has an increasing base of enterprises engaging in R&D and innovation activity.

Continuing to build on this performance, Innovation 2020 (Ireland’s cross-government strategy for research and development, science and technology) outlines a range of policy responses aimed at increasing the number of indigenous enterprises engaged in R&D activities as well as increasing their R&D expenditures. The following key actions are aligning the public effort to maximise R&D activity in SMEs:

- Support for knowledge transfer and commercialisation has been stepped up.

- The refresh of research prioritisation exercise is reviewing the priority areas for publicly funded research and will target new areas where enterprises could build a competitive advantage.

- New policy tools have been developed to encourage private participation in R&D both in their own right and in collaboration with publically funded research programmes. 

- The R&D tax credit was made more accessible and improvements to the credit have catalysed increased private investment in R&D.

- The Knowledge Development Box was introduced to act as a further incentive for companies engaged in R&D, allowing them to claim tax relief on profits arising from qualifying IP.

- A review of the current suite of RDI supports for enterprise is currently underway to ensure that supports use public resources efficiently, that they are readily accessible by enterprise and that they are aligned with enterprise needs.

Furthermore, Enterprise Ireland is proactively working with Irish SMEs to improve their R&D capacity and has developed an initiative to optimise their suite of RDI supports to enable them to respond to changes in the market.


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