Investment in public research system must be cornerstone of innovation strategy – Rose Conway-Walsh TD
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Research, Innovation and Science, Rose Conway-Walsh TD has said that the success of the innovation strategy launched by the government will "require a rebalancing of investment towards the public research system and regional balance".
Speaking following the launch of 'Impact 2030', Teachta Conway-Walsh said:
"I welcome the launch of a successor strategy for Innovation 2020.
"The strategy will be judged by its ability to rebalance of our approach to research, and rebalance towards investment in the public research system, the regions and technological sector, and the social sciences.
"We have fallen far behind other countries of comparable means when it comes to investing in research and innovation. This undermines development in our economy and society.
"Plans to establish a competitive research fund, while welcome, must be coupled with effective supports to ensure all institutes of higher education increase their research capacity.
"As things stand, we see huge discrepancies between institutes ability to access competitive research funding.
"Take the Horizon research fund - less than 10 percent goes to institutes of technology and technological universities (53.7m).
"To highlight the issue further, the institutes of technology that make up the new Atlantic Technological University have won only €1.9 million since 2014. That is just under 0.2 percent of the total Ireland’s total.
"Investment in research needs to benefit all institutes of higher education if we are to see balanced regional development.
"As well as regional balance we also need to provide greater funding to the public research system. 10 years of underfunding of higher education has had a severe knock-on impact on research and development.
"At the same time, figures released this month show that €658 million in research and development tax relief was provided to the private sector in a single year. Three quarters of this went to the largest multinationals.
"The companies are not even required to conduct the research activity in the state in order to be eligible for this tax break and revenue does not collect data on where research is being conducted.
"At a minimum we need to be ensuring that public funds are used to deepen research and increase expertise in Ireland.
"Investing in our public research system across all higher education institutes is the best way to achieve greater levels of quality research."