Title: Challenges for R&I policy-making in Ireland
- Enhancing collaboration between enterprise and academic research. In 2017 this is addressed by SFI establishing four further research centres in order to support leading basic and applied research with strong industry engagement, economic, and societal impact. Funding for a fifth research centre (which will bring the total to 17) was also approved.
- Developing a sustainable funding model for the higher education sector. The decade long decline in state funding of HEIs, coupled with increasing staff-student ratios, threatens to compromise quality. A consultation between the Parliamentary Committee on Education and Skills and various stakeholders started in 2017 based on the Cassels report. However, a new funding model will not be completed by 2018.
- Improving the level and performance of R&D by indigenous enterprises. BERD is dominated by foreign-owned MNCs. Enterprise Ireland's Strategy for 2017-2020 seeks to support SMEs increasing R&D investment by 50% to €1.25 billion by 2020 and to increase the level of innovation and entrepreneurship across Irish regions. The recent review of capital expenditure on RD&I from 2000 to 2016 points also to the importance of whole-of-government approaches to supporting RD&I in indigenous businesses. Further engagement in RD&I is being facilitated though supports such as the Agile Innovation Fund and the online Find R&D Funding Tool.
- Increasing R&D and embeddedness of multinationals in the research system. The focus of policymakers is to strengthen collaboration between Irish operations of foreign-owned MNCs and the research system. The most significant recent development in this respect is the establishment of a further four SFI research centres in 2017 and approval for funding another.