Maximising Ireland’s Potential for Company R&D

Maximising Ireland’s Potential for Company R&D

Date: 22 March 2010

The Advisory Council on Science, Technology and Innovation (ASC) today made a series of recommendations on how to improve the environment for companies to engage in research, development and innovation (RD&I) in Ireland. The report entitled, Maximising the Environment for Company R&D, highlights the continuing need to encourage enterprise to invest in RD&I, which increases the stock of knowledge, and the use of that knowledge for the development of new goods, processes and services.

Conor Lenihan TD, Minister for Science, Technology and Innovation said, "One very significant element in the development of Ireland as an innovation hub is research and development.  It is now very timely to take stock of the barriers that can inhibit companies from engaging in R&D and converting that knowledge into increased productivity. I would like to thank the Council and its Task Force for their work on this useful report and also thank the enterprises, industry groups and development agencies that gave their time to the consultation process."

Dr Tom McCarthy, Chair, ASC commented, "This report highlights the key barriers to increased levels of R&D across company activities and also specific barriers encountered in industry sectors. High quality graduates with R&D skills and knowledge in areas of research relevant to existing and future enterprise, a competitive cost base for conducting R&D and a proactive and successful interaction between our higher education institutions and enterprise are essential if Ireland is to gain the maximum impact from its investment in R&D.  This report identifies improvements in each of these areas with the goal of ensuring that Ireland is among the very best locations in the world for companies, both Irish and foreign owned, to engage in R&D and produce new and commercially viable products, processes and services."

Key Report Findings

The report identifies three overarching barriers which impact the levels of company R&D in Ireland across all enterprise sectors. 

  • A shortage of high quality industry relevant skills;
  • The high cost of R&D; and
  • The effectiveness of higher education institutions - enterprise interactions.

The report includes the following recommendations to address these barriers:

  • There should be greater involvement of industry in developing postgraduate programmes and this can be achieved through prioritising some of the 4th level funding from PhD programmes towards the development of industry driven Masters programmes. 
  • There should be support for the development of world class Masters programmes that are industry relevant, sector specific and in which industry is engaged.
  • Industrial postgraduate programmes should be developed, based on the model of the Danish Industrial PhD Programme.
  • A competitive financial incentive to attract industrial R&D leaders to work in enterprise in Ireland should be developed based on a review of tax incentives used in other countries.
  • Companies should be allowed the option to offset their R&D tax credit against payroll taxes.
  • There should be an increase in the incentives and opportunities for connecting people from enterprise and academia. This should be achieved through:
    • The inclusion of industrial engagement as an important criterion for recruitment and promotion of academic/research staff in Higher Education Institutions (HEIs).

The findings of this report fed into the deliberations of the Innovation Taskforce whose report was published by the Taoiseach.