Dáil Éireann - Volume 639 - 16 October, 2007
Written Answers. - Research Funding.
Deputy Richard Bruton Deputy Richard Bruton
Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if he will conduct a review of enterprise support schemes for research and development to ensure they are relevant and fully absorbed as recommended in IBEC’s publication Vision for Dublin. [23400/07]
Deputy Micheál Martin Deputy Micheál Martin
Deputy Micheál Martin: The new Strategy for Science, Technology and Innovation, which was launched in June 2006, provides the means to achieve convergence, coherence and complementarity in the national innovation system and ensure that maximum economic and social benefits are derived from the Government’s commitment of €8.2 billion to the area under the National Development Plan. The Strategy envisages changes to innovation policy that will ensure it remains relevant to the needs of business and contains a number of proposals which specifically address issues which are the subject of recommendations on innovation in IBEC’s Vision for Dublin document.
Of particular relevance are proposals to streamline and simplify research and development supports to firms, which have been undertaken under the umbrella of the strategy implementation group, Technology Ireland. The new  streamlined schemes are at an advanced stage of development. Following completion of the notification process of the schemes under the new Community Framework for State Aid for Research and Development and Innovation to the EU Commission, IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland expect to be in a position to put in place revised simplified research and development offerings from 2008. Indeed, I expect to be in a position to launch Enterprise Ireland’s new scheme later this year.
A number of new schemes that specifically address the needs of business are being devised or are in a start-up phase. These include a programme for the establishment of industry led Competence Centres designed as a new and important bridge on the spectrum of taking basic research to commercialisation. This industry-led research centre scheme has attracted significant interest with 25 industry groupings responding in May to the first call for Expressions of Interest. Competence Centres will fill a gap on the continuum from often academic-led basic research to applied or company-led research while ensuring greater commercialisation opportunities.
The recently launched Innovation Voucher scheme offers companies an opportunity to explore a business opportunity or problem with a public research body, thereby facilitating knowledge transfer to their business. These new mechanisms encourage increasing innovation in a manner which is directly related to the needs of business. With regard to the need to ensure that supports for research and development are fully absorbed, the industrial development agencies work closely with clients to encourage firms to become more engaged in research and development activity and to the maximise the uptake of the supports available. A significant number of clear quantitative and qualitative goals have been set for the Strategy for Science Technology and Innovation. Progress towards the attainment of these targets will be regularly tracked and monitored by an interdepartmental committee operating under the aegis of my Department.
Dáil Éireann 639 Written Answers. Research Funding.