Innovation taskforce appointed to advise Government


TAOISEACH BRIAN Cowen has announced the appointment of an innovation taskforce to advise the Government on its strategy for positioning Ireland as an international innovation hub and to assist in making the “smart economy” a reality.

The taskforce is to advise the Government on options to increase innovation and entrepreneurship and to ensure that investment in science, technology and research translates into high-value jobs and sustainable economic growth.

It will also support the development of the Innovation Alliance between Trinity College Dublin and University College Dublin. The taskforce will be complemented by the work of the Green Enterprise Taskforce recently announced by Minister for Enterprise Mary Coughlan and Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Eamon Ryan.

Announcing the membership of the taskforce, the Taoiseach said: “While weathering the worst global recession of our lifetime, it is imperative that we position Ireland so that we can take advantage of the global upturn when it comes.

“In December, I launched Building Ireland’s Smart Economy, the Government’s framework for sustainable economic renewal. We need to think smart, work smart, and be smart in order to build our future.

“The Ireland of the future will be a smart, high-value, export-led economy. It will have some of the world’s leading research-intensive multinationals, a number of which will be Irish-owned. It will have thousands of innovative small and medium enterprises,” the Taoiseach said.

“These companies will be creating the products and services of tomorrow and providing high-quality employment for our people.

“The country will have smart, efficient and citizen-oriented public services. It will be energy independent and have high-quality living environments with smart transport solutions. That is the future that I want us to achieve.”

Mr Cowen said the lesson “from severe global recessions in the past” is that as well as weathering the economic storm, countries need to restructure their economies to target the next wave of economic growth.

Building Ireland’s Smart Economy identified “a range of measures to transform Ireland into the ‘innovation island’,” he said. “Today, I am pleased to announce the appointment of the Innovation Taskforce which will assist Government in making this vision a reality.”

Ms Coughlan said Ireland had had considerable success in attracting foreign investment and that more than 40 per cent of that investment “is now in high-value RD. We must now build on the progress made in the Strategy for Science, Technology and Innovation so as to ensure that we move up the value chain to become a smart economy with a high-value, research-intensive, multinational community and a thriving set of innovative Irish companies. I look forward to hearing the views of the taskforce on how we can achieve this ambitious strategy.”

Minister of State for Science, Technology and Innovation Conor Lenihan said the knowledge and expertise of the taskforce members would “contribute to ensuring that we have the necessary research, innovation and commercialisation structure to become one of the world’s leading locations for business innovation.”

Innovation taskforce: membership

Dermot McCarthy, secretary general, Department of the Taoiseach (chairman)

Lionel Alexander, vice-president general manager of Hewlett Packard (Manufacturing) Ltd and chairman of the Government’s Enterprise Feedback Group

Prof Don Barry, president, University of Limerick

Dr Hugh Brady, president, University College Dublin

Damien Callaghan, investment director, Intel Capital

Michael Carmody, president, Institute of Technology Tralee

Dr Steven Collins, co-founder chief technical officer, Kore Virtual Machines

Ned Costello, chief executive, Irish Universities Association

Joe Harford, chairman of the Government’s High Level Action Group on Green Enterprise

Dr John Hegarty, provost, Trinity College Dublin

Dr Chris Horn, co-founder of Iona Technologies

Dr Brian Kelly, founder chief executive, Celtic Catalysts

Dr Burton Lee, director, European entrepreneurship programme, Stanford University; managing partner, Innovarium Ventures

John Lynch, chief executive, Merrion Pharmaceuticals

Tara MacMahon, IP lawyer

Dan MacSweeney, chief executive, Carbery Group

Bryan Mohally, vice-president of supply chain operations Europe, Johnson and Johnson

Mark O’Donovan, director, Raglan Capital

Barry O’Sullivan, senior vice-president, Cisco Systems

Dr Paul Roben, president, Celtic Consulting

Anna Scally, partner, KPMG

The taskforce will also include the heads of Enterprise Ireland, IDA Ireland, Science Foundation Ireland, the Higher Education Authority and representatives from the departments of Education and Science, Enterprise, Trade and Employment, and Finance.