Government’s science strategy includes five reseach centres

Damien English announces plan at launch of annual report of Science Foundation Ireland

Minister of State for Research Damien English: “We need a plan that will increase our spend in research.” Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Minister of State for Research Damien English: “We need a plan that will increase our spend in research.” Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

 

Ireland would have a visionary strategy for investment in science by October, Minister of State for Research Damien English has said.

Mr English was speaking at the launch of the 2014 annual report of Science Foundation Ireland.

It highlighted a range of developments including the opening of five new research centres with cofunding worth €245 million from Government and industry.

During the year Ireland also moved up the world scientific league tables from 20th place to 16th, based on publication citations.

Ireland has been without a strategy since the expiration of the Strategy for Science, Technology and Innovation in 2013.

Criticism

Efforts to put together a new one started last December but quickly attracted criticism from research academics. More than 120 of them signed a letter to this newspaper expressing concern at the lack of consultation.

That will be rebalanced today at Farmleigh, Phoenix Park, when 120 researchers, private sector representatives and governmental staff attend a workshop to discuss what the new strategy should contain.

“If we need more meetings we will have them,” Mr English said. “We need a plan that will increase our spend in research. We are making the case and will continue to make the case we have to invest in research.”

The strategy has been delivered several months later than planned but he said, “I don’t mind so long as we get it right.” It will be ambitious and visionary, he added, and it is needed to attract leading academics and post-doctoral fellows and to counter the “talent war” where countries battle to attract top researchers.

Irish-based researchers had done particularly well in winning EU funding via the European Research Council, and collaborations with private sector companies were on the rise, he said.