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Halligan, John

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Financial Resolutions 2017

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Financial Resolution No. 2: General (Resumed)

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Financial Resolution No. 2: General (Resumed)

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Minister of State at the Department of Education and Skills (Deputy John Halligan)

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Minister of State at the Department of Education and Skills (Deputy John Halligan)

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John Halligan

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Snippet Contents:

I welcome the opportunity to address the House on budget 2017 and in particular, the increased allocation in my Department’s innovation budget for next year. Innovation and technology are key drivers of Irish economy. Continued investment in innovation, research and development has been crucial for attracting, creating and maintaining high value jobs as well as developing and nurturing a technologically advanced workforce. I am pleased to say that in budget 2017 the Government is committed to increasing the funding available for research, development and innovation supports. My Department’s capital allocation for 2017 for investment in research, development and innovation will be €323 million, an increase of €15 million over 2016 levels.
This Department of Education and Skills investment is part of the picture in terms of the wider goals set out by Government in Innovation 2020. The investments through the Department have to be considered alongside the investments through the Department of Education and Skills and other Departments. The 2017 capital allocation of €323 million will assist a range of key research funding supports and activities led in particular by Science Foundation Ireland, Enterprise Ireland and the Tyndall National Institute.
I will outline some of the key research and innovation initiatives that will be supported in 2017. Science Foundation Ireland, SFI, will see its capital budget increase by €5.5 million bringing it to €162 million in 2017. This capital investment will enable Science Foundation Ireland to invest in excellent and impactful research for Ireland. It will allow SFI to make the following new investments in the coming 12 months: an increase in the number of large scale research centres, additional new strategic partnerships with industry and funding of up to 50 new awards to excellent senior, mid and early-career researchers through the SFI Investigators and SFI career development award programmes.
The SFI budget in 2017 will also allow it continue to support its existing 12 SFI research centres of excellence that are focused on areas of national strategic importance. In 2017, SFI will support the recruitment of eight to ten internationally renowned researchers through the SFI research professorship and SFI research funding leader programmes. A number of strategic partnerships with international research agencies will also be supported with an increased focus on UK research councils and other funding bodies, in light of Brexit. Education and public engagement are also critical, through the SFI Discovery programme. SFI will invest in projects which promote STEM, science, technology, engineering and mathematics education and public engagement.
Enterprise Ireland will see its capital budget for research and development supports increase by €4.4 million in 2017 bringing it to €122 million. Enterprise Ireland’s increased capital allocation for research, development and innovation programmes will enable the agency to develop new supports aimed at increasing the ability of indigenous companies to carry out research and development, develop new products and services and access new markets. The additional capital allocation will fund a number of new initiatives including a new programme for business innovation initiatives aimed at driving company innovation towards more customer focused product and service solutions. The funding will also enable the roll-out of a small business innovation research programme, following successful pilots, to leverage the considerable national public procurement budget to drive innovation in small and medium enterprises. It will also assist in scaling up of activity under the recently launched Health Innovation Hub Ireland, and enhance the supports to help companies access non-Exchequer research funding, including through the EU Horizon 2020 programme. I am pleased to inform the House that, to the end of September, Ireland has won over €336 million in competitive Horizon 2020 funding. This figure is ahead of where we expected to be at this point in time with regard to our national target.
I am pleased to announce an increase in the budget allocation to the Tyndall National Institute. The capital investment of €4.5 million will enable this fantastic institution to grow its interactions with industry substantially both in Ireland and internationally and target non-Exchequer income of up to €6 million in 2017. The funding will help the institution to build on its national leadership in postgraduate training by producing up to 30 highly skilled postgraduate researchers at PhD level for industry in 2017.
The objective of this investment is to foster and enable Ireland to delve into world class innovation systems. The investment also ensures Ireland is connected and respected internationally. Ireland’s ranking in the Innovation Union Scoreboard has moved from tenth place in 2013 to sixth place in 2016, and Ireland is currently grouped with other nations known as strong innovators.