Future proofing the Irish economy through Skills, Research & Innovation

Action Plan for Jobs, Apprenticeships, Meath, Research and Innovation, Skills, Uncategorized, Wesmeath

Check Against Delivery

Speech at Fine Gael Ard Fheis – Damien English TD, Minister for Skills, Research and Innovation

Fine Gael in Government has a long term economic plan to secure the recovery, put people back to work and build a sustainable robust economy. 200,000, 70,000 returning home.

Firstly we stablised the national finances and created the conditions for a return to growth. People now have hope for the future.

Then we used the Action Plans for Jobs process to drive job creation, creating more than a 1000 jobs a week.

More people in work means more tax revenue to invest in delivering improved and reformed public services.

Make no mistake Ireland is in full recovery mode. We now have the fastest growing economy in Europe.

More importantly more and more Irish people are back working in good jobs with good prospects.

We will not sit back, we can’t take growth for granted. We have to future proof the economy through investment in research and skills.

All the other parties out there are eager to spend the fruits of the recovery but have no plan on how to keep it going.

While they have wish lists, we have a long term economic plan to future proof the economy and prevent a return to the boom and bust.

In a marathon you hit the pain barrier about six miles from the end.

A few years ago the Irish people, and the Irish economy hit the pain barrier but we have kept on going on the road to recovery.

Now a few miles short of the finish line to achieve full employment, who pops up at the final water station with burgers and beers encouraging you to party again but Micheal Martin. When really what you need is an isotonic drink that will steady you and keep you going. Likewise Fine Gael’s Long Term plan is the isotonic drink that will keep the will keep the economy steady and well on the road to full employment.

Fianna Fáil have no economic plan to create jobs, to keep the recovery going. In fact when Micheal Martin was last in charge, Ireland saw 300,000 jobs destroyed.

If we follow his advice, it will be like Groundhog Day and we will be back at the start of the marathon again, with more pain to go through.

Fianna Fails preferred bedfellows are proponents of the Slab Murphy School of Economics.
Keep hitting the honest worker to pay for everthing.

Sinn Fein don’t believe in low taxes for jobs. Instead they believe in the approach taken by Syrzia in Greece, look where that got them.

Put the two together and you get the coalition from hell who will tax and squander the recovery into a savage recession.

Fine Gael know we can’t take growth for granted.

The recovery is not an accident.

The recovery is the result of the hard work and sacrifice of the Irish people good Government and prudent policies.

It’s a tough competitive world out there. Growth in China is slowing, the US stock market is falling, there is crisis of confidence in Europe and the West.

If we take growth for granted we will lose it.

We have to stay competitive and we have to focus on the future.

Which is what I have been doing as Minister for Skills Research and Innovation.

We have been putting in place the strategies to create the jobs of the future and make sure the Irish people have the right skills to fill these jobs.

Last month we published Innovation 2020 Ireland’s strategy to become an global leader in research and innovation.

Already ten percent of Intel’s research is done in Ireland Intel’s new Chips are not just built in Ireland they are designed in Ireland.

Kerry Group are now the world’s leading taste and nutrition company their research is reinventing food to make it tastier and healthier.

Innovation 2020 will ensure more companies do research and create the jobs and the companies of the future in Ireland.

Ireland is now in full recovery mode, and within striking distance of full employment.

As we approach full employment making sure Irish workers have the skills that enterprise needs matters more than ever.

If we are to secure the recovery and future proof the Irish economy we need to put in place a long term skills strategy to ensure all of our people can reach their full potential and play an active role in building a better Ireland.

We are doing just that.

Next week we will publish our new Skills Strategy to ensure the Irish people have the skills to fill the jobs of the future.

This strategy sets an ambitious trajectory for the next ten years for skills development in Ireland.

It marks an important step in the evolution of Ireland’s dual track educational system to a system which fully supports life learning and is more responsive than ever to the changing needs of enterprise.

This strategy is based on partnership with enterprise. We are putting in place regional skills fora to ensure business in every region can tell us they skills they need to grow.

At a National Level we are putting in place a new National Skills Council to use real time intelligence to proactively manage emerging skills gaps.

We are also reinventing Apprenticeships for the 21stCentury to provide a low cost high quality path to good jobs and good careers for our young people.

This year will see the doubling of Apprentice Schemes in a host of new areas like IT and Finance.

I want to stress that Apprenticeships are not some kind of second best option for people who can’t get into college.

They are a tried and tested method of training talented people, just ask former Apprentices like Jamie Oliver or Alex Ferguson.

Fine Gael are committing to delivering 50,000 apprenticeships andtraineeships by 2020.

I have three things I want to ask all you here today to help me with.

Firstly we can’t reach our job creation targets unless we bring our emigrants home.

If you have a son or daughter a niece or nephew or friends working abroad tell them its time to think about coming home.

Secondly if you know young people who are trying to figure out what to do in life. Get them to check out an Apprenticeship.

There are literally thousands of well paying jobs out there for people with the right skills. College is not the only option and often it’s not the best option for a host of well paying jobs.

Finally, canvass hard to get this Government back into office.

Leave no door unknocked and no voter in any doubt of the need to keep Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein as far away from power as possible.

Fianna Fail have squandered one boom Sinn Fein want to turn us into a second Greece.

Only Fine Gael has a long term economic plan and with your hard work and commitment we will deliver it and a better brighter future for this country.



Minister English’s Budget 2016 Speech

Action Plan for Jobs, Apprenticeships, Budget 2016, Business, Education, I.T., Jobs, Meath, Research and Innovation, Skills, Speeches, Startups, Wesmeath

On Wednesday night 14th October I addressed the Dáil on Budget 2016:

This budget is designed to support the recovery, hard pressed families and begin future proofing the economy.

This budget is neither the hair shirt budget that some Economists have called for, nor is the silk shirt that the opposition seem to think we can afford, rather it is a prudent budget that will create jobs.

It will remove barriers to work and make work pay, grow the economy and keep the recovery going while reducing the current account deficit.

Business in Ireland has welcomed this budget. Danny McCoy of IBEC said “The budget is right for the economy at this time and signals a new phase of economic development. The crisis is behind us and we are planning ahead. The Government has taken on board the concerns of business, reduced tax and encouraged private investment.”

ISME and the SFA have also welcomed the Budget. The SFA Chairman, A J Noonan stated “This Budget is a strong endorsement by Government of the importance of entrepreneurship and small business in Ireland.”

But this is not just a budget for business and jobs, it is also a budget for our young families.

My constituency of Meath West has one of the highest concentrations of young families in the country, with a youth dependency ratio of over 38%.

You only have to walk around the streets of Navan, Trim or Enfield to see just how young our communities are. Our young population means we can look forward to a more hopeful future, but families cannot live on hope alone.

They need help now and this budget does just that.

Cutting USC, raising child benefit, and extending the free preschool scheme to accommodate all three to five year olds will benefit young families in Meath West and throughout the country.

These families endured a lot of the pain in the recession it is only right that they get some of the gain from the national recovery.

Talk to any parent on the doorsteps in Meath West – education and the future of our children is a major focus. This budget will reduce class sizes; it will recruit an additional 2,260 teachers.

This budget will deliver a better education to our children and will invest in career guidance. This will help our children chose the courses and the skills they need to get a good job and build a better future.

With this budget young school leavers will now have a lot more choice in their career paths.

We are investing an additional €10.5m to effectively double the number of Apprenticeship Schemes available in Ireland.

These 25 new Apprenticeship Schemes will cover areas such as


Transport and Logistics,

Financial Services,

Tourism and Hospitality

and the bulk of these will be delivered in 2016.

We need to refocus the third level system to create a more enterprise responsive educational system; we need to provide the skills that students and industry require.

Future proofing the Economy is all about building skills at all levels including our pool of research skills.

Ireland’s future economic growth and prosperity will depend on our continued investment in science, technology and innovation.

This investment is all about developing:

A competitive knowledge based economy and society;

Driving innovation in enterprise;

Building human capital

And maximising the return on R&D investment for economic and social progress.

Investment in research and development is crucial for creating and maintaining high-value jobs.

In addition to the investment announced yesterday, my Department will be allocating an additional €29m specifically for investment in research and innovation to spend before the end of this year.

In addition to this, the overall 2016 capital investment will allow Enterprise Ireland to:

Support 100 Innovative High Potential start Up Companies in 2016 employing 2,000 people.

Issue six Competitive Start Fund calls with a target of financially supporting 85 innovative entrepreneurs.

Fund over 100 in-company R&D projects for companies that are valued in excess €100,000, and

Continue the development of Knowledge Transfer Ireland and the wider national Technology Transfer system to create 30 new spinout companies

For Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), the 2016 allocation will:

Continue to fund the 12 SFI Research Centres, which represents an investment of €355m from the government and €190m from over 200 industry partners.

Train some 3000 researchers for key positions in Industry

Science Foundation Ireland will also undertake a recruitment campaign in partnership with the Irish Universities to attract world-class researchers.

I am pleased that Ireland’s participation in the European Space Agency (ESA) will continue to support a growing number of Irish companies in the rapidly expanding European and Global space markets. In this sector we will see:

A doubling of sales to over €80m

A rise in total employment to over 2,300, and

An expansion in the number of companies actively engaged with ESA to over 75

We are competing in an ever more competitive global environment. I am therefore pleased to report that work is almost complete on a new Strategy for Science, Technology and Innovation.

It is now time for fresh strategic ideas to make research work to maximum effect for the country.

The vision for the new Strategy will be underpinned by 5 key goals:

an internationally competitive research system;

excellent research with relevance and impact for the economy and for society;

a renowned pool of talent in both academia and industry;

a joined-up research eco-system, responsive to emerging opportunities;

and a strong innovative enterprise base, growing employment, sales and exports.

We need to ensure that we have a world leading state-of-the-art research and innovation ecosystem in Ireland.

I am confident that the upcoming Strategy will provide us with the roadmap to deliver on this ambition for Ireland.

To conclude a Leas Ceann Comhairle,

This Budget charts a responsible, prudent path to fiscal stability, economic growth and opportunity.

The Budget marks a new stage in Ireland’s road to full recovery and a more sustainable future.

It will support that recovery and will begin to future proof the economy.

I commend this budget to the House and to the country.

Over €3billion for capital investment in enterprise and job-creation over lifetime of capital plan

Business, Funding, I.T., Jobs, Research and Innovation, Science, Skills, Startups

Investment will allow full delivery of comprehensive regional jobs plans


Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton TD together with along with the Minister of State for Business & Employment Ged Nash TD and the Minister of State for Research, Innovation and Skills Damien English TD today welcomed the publication of the capital plan, and announced the provision of a total of over €3billion in capital investment in projects under the remit of their Department over the period 2016-2021.

Minister English said: “The Government’s Capital programme is an investment in future proofing the economy and building a sustainable recovery not only for business but for the Irish people. The plan will underpin our economic and social development for the years to come. This Government has protected investment in research and innovation throughout its term and we have a strong base now on which to build.  Our forthcoming science, technology and innovation strategy will set the policy direction for the next phase of our investment and will complement the investment in physical infrastructure being announced today”.

The plan published today allocates a total of €3.01billion to capital projects under the Department of Jobs, and represents an average annual increase of €20.6million on his Department’s allocation for 2014 – a year when the agencies under his Department delivered a record 19,500 extra jobs. When the arrangement on own resource income is taken into account the annual figure will be significantly higher again.

Minister Bruton will outline the full breakdown of the Department’s capital programme for 2016 on Budget Day. He stressed today that the allocations announced today will allow his Department and its agencies to continue to deliver the programmes of activities which have support record levels of job-creation and exports over recent years, as well as the comprehensive programme of regional jobs plans commenced earlier this year. These plans outlined a total investment of €250million in IDA business parks, advance facilities, and Enterprise Ireland regional funds.

Minister Bruton said: “Over the past three years, employment in companies supported by my Department has risen by well over 40,000 – meaning that almost half of the total increase in employment over that time has been accounted for directly by companies supported by my Department. Those companies have also delivered record exports over that time. Today’s capital plan is about building on that record and bringing it to the next level – accelerating jobs growth in every region of the country, and delivering our aim of sustainable full employment.

“The allocation announced for our Department is a significant increase on the figures which have allowed us to deliver those record results. It will not mean that we will abandon the prudence and the smart use of resources that we have shown over the past four years. However it will allow us to plan for the future, secure the recovery and deliver the job-creation that will make possible everything else that we as a Government want to do over the coming years”.

Minister Nash said: “Job creation remains our number one priority in this Department and the capital programme we are announcing today will ensure that our agencies, the IDA, Enterprise Ireland and the Local Enterprise Offices have the funding they need to build on the record levels of job creation we have all worked so hard to achieve in recent years.  My focus is also firmly on ensuring that the jobs these agencies are helping to create are decent sustainable jobs which enable all workers to have a decent standard of living.”

Address to Farmleigh Workshop on Strategy for Science Technology and Innovation

Research and Innovation, Science, Speeches

Address by the Minister for Skills, Research and Innovation, Damien English T.D.

Workshop on Strategy for Science Technology and Innovation

Farmleigh House, Phoenix Park

8th July, 2015


Good morning ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to welcome you all here this morning for this very important stage in the development of our new, national strategy for Science Technology and Innovation. I appreciate that you have all taken time out from your “day job” to attend and hopefully contribute to this workshop. I think that you have a hard day of work ahead of you, but I assure you that it will be worthwhile.

Progress to date

Public research in Ireland has been transformed over the past 15 years. Prior to 2000 there was relatively little funding available to researchers in Ireland. The European Commission’s Framework programmes provided a life-line (some would say “life-support”!) for research in our public institutions.

The introduction of the Programme for Research in Third Level Institutions in 2000 and the subsequent establishment of Science Foundation Ireland in 2001 led to a step change in the level of research activity in this country. The cumulative investment to date under the five successive cycles PRTLI has been €1.2bn. Science Foundation Ireland has invested over €2bn to date. Other research funders, government departments and state agencies, have also invested significantly in research over the period.

In parallel with this growth in public investment, there has been a commensurate increase in the level of research activity in the private, enterprise sector. As a result, the total investment, public plus private, on research grew from 1.09% of GDP in 2000 to 1.24% of GDP in 2007. This increase is all the more impressive when one considers the phenomenal growth in GDP over this period: GDP increased by over 80% between 2000 and 2007.

Successive Government have recognised the importance of public research for Ireland’s socio-economic development. Even through the worst of the fiscal crisis this Government protected investment in research from the more extreme cuts it was forced to impose on other areas of public spending.

As a result of this sustained investment, Ireland developed world-class research capacity across a range of fields. Both the quantity and quality of scientific output have increased, as gauged by academic publications and citations. Ireland has attained world-leading ranking for citations per paper in several key fields:

·        1st in Immunology,

·        1st in Animal and Dairy,

·        3rd in Nanosciences,

·        4th in Computer Science,

·        6th in Materials Science.

Ireland is ranked 20th overall for citations per paper across all fields.

The focus over the decade 2000-2010 was on building capacity in the public research system, broadly across biotech and ICT. In 2012 the Government adopted a new framework, Research Prioritisation, for the proportion of its investment intended to support enterprise (about 40% of the total pie).  The goal of Prioritisation is to accelerate the economic returns from its enterprise supports by building critical mass in areas of strategic opportunity for Ireland. The economic crash in 2008 added a further impetus to this focusing of investment.

Ireland has now emerged from the worst of the economic crisis and is on track to record two successive years of strong growth. During the years of the crisis the over-riding policy objectives were getting the public finances onto a sustainable footing and creating jobs. Now that significant progress has been made on both fronts, it is appropriate that the Government should look to the longer-term and in particular laying the foundation for a sustainable and prosperous future over the medium- to long-term. The new strategy for Science, Technology and Innovation will form an important component of that foundation.

The importance of research for long-term socio-economic development has been underscored by the re-categorisation of public support for research as a capital investment rather than current expenditure by the EU in 2014 in their rules for national accounts.

Importance of the public research system

The nature of research is such that when we initiate a programme of research, there is an inherent uncertainty about what the outcomes and ultimate impacts of that programme will be. However, there are two certainties: firstly, the research will generate new knowledge. Sometimes that new knowledge will be of a negative result from a failed experiment or unsuccessful idea; this can be as valuable as a positive result. Secondly, the research will produce new human capital i.e. researchers with enhanced experience and skills.

I believe that a vibrant public research system, characterised by excellence and international linkages, is vital for Ireland’s future prosperity.

The benefits of public research are numerous and clear:

·        The IP generated by research can spur innovation in firms, resulting in new and enhanced products and services. These are vital for success in global markets and the creation of high-quality employment.

·        Research is also vital to address and mitigate some of the major societal challenges that we are facing, ranging from health to energy to climate change – all of which are inter-related.

·        Science and technology are becoming central to ever more areas of public policy. Those of us charged with setting public policy must be able to call on the latest scientific evidence to guide us in drafting legislation, formulating regulations, setting national goals and targets; and negotiating international treaties.

·        Finally, research has an important role to play in enhancing the quality and efficiency of our public services, such as healthcare.

The new Strategy

In the light of all of these considerations, there are a number of key features I want to see in the strategy:

Research Excellence

I believe that the excellence of our research is of paramount importance. It must be the over-riding principle guiding our investment decisions. While it may be appropriate to take account of additional strategic considerations, this should not result in any relaxation of the excellence criterion. We must fund the best people to do the best research.

Human capital

The strategy must fully reflect the importance of the link between research and human capital. Human capital, in other words, the knowledge and skills instilled in researchers, is possibly the most important output from research. It may be a cliché to say that our people are our greatest natural resource, but it is true nonetheless. A key goal of this strategy will be to ensure that we continue to have the best educated, best trained and most creative people in the EU. This “talent” is a vital input for indigenous firms to help them to innovate and compete successfully in global markets; it is also a key part of the package for attracting FDI into Ireland.


I am very keen to have a comprehensive, cross-Government strategy. To help achieve this, my department has established an Inter-Departmental Committee to assist in the development of the strategy. Ten Government departments, including all those funding research, are represented on the committee, as well as the Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government.

The traditional dichotomy between research for societal and research for economic objectives is unhelpful as it introduces a competitive tension into discussions about funding. This is not a zero sum game. The fruits of ostensibly “economic” research can and do spill-over and benefit society; similarly, research on societal issues can and does lead to commercial opportunities. Ultimately, the benefits of all research accrue to both the economy and society.


A further aspect of inclusivity is that the strategy should encompass all disciplines, the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, as well as Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.


Another key theme in the strategy will be collaboration between the public and private sectors. In view of the constraints on the public investment, it is worth reflecting on the fact that two thirds of the total investment in research in this country is made by private enterprise – not the state. Investment in research in the business sector rose to €2.1bn in 2014. Therefore, it is in the interests of all public funders and researchers to actively try to connect with enterprise in order to leverage the public funds and augment them with additional private funds in order to achieve maximum “bang” for the taxpayer. Similarly, researchers themselves should consider how they might tap into the private funding for research. As I indicated a moment ago, the social and economic dividends from research are mutually supportive.

Public Resources

The availability of adequate resources to implement the strategy is critical. We are a small national with limited resources relative to the research powerhouses of the US, Germany, UK and (increasingly) China. Notwithstanding our stronger economic performance over the past two years and the positive outlook for the coming years, we still have a significant overhang from the crisis: we are a heavily indebted nation – our national debt is approximately 105% GDP and we are continuing to borrow to offset our fiscal deficit – the projection for this year is that the exchequer borrowing requirement will be in excess of €6bn. Unemployment, while continuing to fall, is still unacceptably high at 9.7%.

Against this backdrop, there are many competing demands on the exchequer, closing the deficit; social housing; schools; near-term employment creation. Therefore hard choices must be made by the Government on investment. We are seeking your input today to help guide and inform these decisions.


It is probably reasonable to infer that all of us in this room share a deep conviction about the importance of research for Ireland’s future. We would all subscribe to a vision of Ireland as a leading nation for research and innovation. Our challenge is to harness this commitment and to translate it into a coherent and realistic strategy for achieving or vision. We broadly know what we want to achieve; the purpose of today is to figure out how we will achieve it.

So once again, thank for your participation in this exercise – I hope to remain with you throughout the day and I am very much looking forward to the discussion and to hearing your views and most particularly your ideas and practical suggestions on how we can deliver on a vision for research on Ireland.

To conclude, in this, the 150th anniversary of Yeats’ birth, the following quotation underscores the importance of linking the cultural and STEM disciplines:

People who lean on logic and philosophy and rational exposition end by starving the best part of the mind.

W.B. Yeats

Thank you.