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R&D in Ireland: The industries forging ahead

What sectors are doing well and what can we learn from them?

When it comes to research and development, Ireland is investing less than the EU average. Photograph: iStock

When it comes to research and development, Ireland is investing less than the EU average. Photograph: iStock

 

When it comes to research and development, Ireland is investing less than the EU average. And yet many sectors are forging ahead with R&D. So who is doing well, why are they doing well and what can we learn from them?

Software

Enterprise Ireland

Ireland is doing well in this sector and the work being carried out in this sector is now a crucial part of our export offering, says Lance O’Brien, head of strategy and international relations at Teagasc, the agriculture and food development authority.

Medical devices

CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland (SFI)-funded centre which brings together researchers from across academia and industry to work on medical devices, is focused on developing innovative smart devices and implants which will benefit patients with cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, neural, soft tissue, renal and urology ailments, as well as respiratory diseases.

Pharma

Pfizer

“Day after day, we see Irish teams making big advances,” says O’Brien. “Much of the innovation and research is happening in the universities, while we know that cancer researchers and other medical researchers are more than pulling their weight.”

The industry has spent more than €10 million on capital investment for new facilities in Ireland, suggesting they’re unlikely to be going anywhere soon. Research clusters can be found in Dublin, Cork, Sligo, Galway, Waterford and Mayo. The Industrial Development Authority (IDA) and SFI have provided financial support and training for the sector, with SFI’s work focused on understanding cancer, Alzheimer’s and autoimmune diseases; SFI is also working closely with Pfizer.

Food and ingredients

Lance O’Brien of Teagasc points towards other success stories. “Ireland is doing well in terms of agri-food research, especially in relation to functional foods and other foods for health, which is being pioneered by the [SFI-funded] Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre Microbiome in UCC, which is working on the area of gut health, microbiota and the relationship with food. For the beef and dairy industries, pasture is critical so a lot of the work of Teagasc focuses on grass growing and management.”