Brussels, 13 Sep 2004
The Irish Council for Science, Technology and Innovation (ICSTI) has urged the Irish government to adopt a longer term approach to research policies and funding, thus allowing the research community to make more durable plans.
Ireland's research community has already developed three to five year research strategies based on the current National Development Plan, which spans from 2000 to 2006. What researchers need now, according to the ICSTI, is 'a new and longer term outlook, based on international best practice for multi-annual budgeting for science and technology (S&T) [...] to provide stability to the research system and to strengthen Ireland's competitiveness as a location for world class science and engineering.'
In its report 'State expenditure priorities for 2005', the ICSTI outlines two strategic objectives: a multi-annual outlook with regard to research funding and enhanced research support for enterprises.
Support for enterprises should comprise both fiscal incentives and funding instruments, but should also take account of the needs of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). Indeed, consideration should also be given to the introduction of an SME-specific instrument, according to the ICSTI, and measures aimed at gaining a better understanding of SMEs' innovation needs should be introduced.
Ireland has strengthened its commitment to research in recent years, and is already reaping the results. '[W]e are now attracting new knowledge-intensive investment of a kind that would not have been possible a few years ago,' said chairman of the ICSTI, Edward Walsh.
Dr Walsh warned against complacency, however, highlighting how Ireland's levels of research investment do not compare favourably with that of other countries. 'Unless we increase these levels significantly we cannot hope to achieve our ambition to be a knowledge-based society comparable to other small EU countries such as Finland and Denmark,' said Dr Walsh. 'The only signal Ireland must give the international community is its absolute determination to sustain and strengthen investment while continuing to build Ireland's reputation as a unique European centre for investment,' he added.
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