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.

15,000 students in Ireland set to benefit from Amgen Foundation Science Education Investment

Biotech, Education, Funding, Research and Innovation, Science

Over 15,000 students in Ireland set to benefit from Amgen Foundation Science Education Investments during the coming academic year

Launch of Amgen Teach and Amgen Biotech Experience programmes, designed to equip secondary school teachers with the skills to increase students’ scientific literacy and interest in scientific careers More than 53,000 students and nearly 500 teachers across Ireland to be reached over the course of a three-year commitment Five undergraduate students from Ireland conduct cutting-edge research this summer at leading European universities as part of the Amgen Scholars Programme To date, the Amgen Foundation has invested almost €600,000 in science education in Ireland

Leading biotechnology company Amgen and its philanthropic arm, the Amgen Foundation, have announced two complementary science education programmes in Ireland – Amgen Teach and the Amgen Biotech Experience.

Designed to support the professional development of secondary school life science teachers, and increase students’ scientific literacy and interest in scientific careers, both programmes are expected to reach over 15,000 students and nearly 150 teachers across Ireland over the coming academic year.

Over the full three year commitment of the programmes, Amgen Teach and the Amgen Biotech Experience are expected to positively impact approximately 53,000 students and nearly 500 teachers in Ireland.

Amgen Teach and the Amgen Biotech Experience support the Irish science school curriculum, providing teachers with the skills and confidence to transform the student experience in learning science. Training is offered free of charge and emphasises hands-on, enquiry-based learning, providing teachers with practical tools they can replicate in the classroom and lab to motivate students. Additionally, the Amgen Biotech Experience provides molecular biology resources and research grade lab equipment, available on loan to participating schools. Amgen Teach is delivered by appointed training partner, Professional Development Service for Teachers, while the Amgen Biotech Experience is coordinated by leading Irish universities, University College Dublin and Dublin City University.

The Amgen Foundation also announced that five undergraduate students from Ireland were selected to participate in the 2015 Amgen Scholars Programme. Part of a $50 million, 12-year commitment, the Amgen Scholars Programme advances science education by providing undergraduates with a cutting-edge summer research experience at world-class third level educational institutions. 28 students from various Irish universities, including Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin, University College Cork, Dublin City University, the Royal College of Surgeons and NUI Galway, have participated in Amgen Scholars since the programme was launched in Europe in 2008.

The participating Amgen Scholars from Ireland for 2015 are:

  • Ciana Diskin from Navan Road, Dublin. Third year Immunology (Biology) student at Trinity College. Amgen Scholars host institution: University of Cambridge.
  • Aaron Fleming from Celbridge, Co Kildare. Third year Immunology (Biology) student at Trinity College Dublin. Amgen Scholars host institution: Institut Pasteur, Paris
  • Conor Keogh from Portmarnock, Dublin. Third year Medical student in Trinity College. Amgen Scholars host institution: ETH Zurich.
  • Daniel Scott from Churchtown, Dublin. Third year Pharmacy student in Trinity College. Amgen Scholars host institution: University of Cambridge
  • Ciara Shortiss, from Cork. Fourth year Neuroscience student in University College Cork. Host University: ETH Zurich.

The Amgen Teach and Amgen Biotech Experience programmes, together with details of the Amgen Scholars 2015 Ireland recipients, were announced at an event to mark the opening of the new $300 million Amgen facility in Dun Laoghaire.

Commenting on the programmes, Kerry Ingalls, Amgen Vice President of Regional Manufacturing said, “Amgen is committed to fostering the scientific potential of a new generation. Ireland is currently the only European country to offer all three science education programmes. I believe that despite increased demand for a science-based workforce, many teachers do not have sufficient access to the impactful training, resources and materials to deliver a high-quality experience to their students. As a result, too few young people are opting for a career in science. Our programmes are designed to change that and to inspire students in Ireland to pursue further education, and possibly even a career, in science.”

He continued, “All three programmes remind us that innovation to improve the lives of patients’ demands partnership between industry, government, public services and academia.”

Congratulating Amgen for its support of science education, Minister for Skills, Research and Innovation, Damien English TD said, “Globally, Ireland now ranks in the top 20 countries for science excellence. Developing collaborative partnerships with leading companies, such as Amgen, to support science education and world–class research will ensure we continue to nurture the next generation of Irish scientists and researchers, enhancing collaboration with enterprise and providing a strong voice for the promotion and support of science, biotechnology and research in Ireland.”

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.