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 Header Item Knowledge Development Box (Certification of Inventions) Bill 2016 [Seanad]: Second Stage (Resumed) (Continued)
 Header Item Knowledge Development Box (Certification of Inventions) Bill 2016 [Seanad]: Referral to Select Committee
 Header Item Estimates for Public Services 2017: Message from Select Committee
 Header Item Criminal Justice (Victims of Crime) Bill 2016: Order for Second Stage
 Header Item Criminal Justice (Victims of Crime) Bill 2016: Second Stage

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 941 No. 1

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Mary Mitchell O'Connor: Information on Mary Mitchell O'Connor Zoom on Mary Mitchell O'Connor]  Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett was concerned that large companies would set up small companies to avail of the KDB for SMEs. I understand that such a restructuring is not possible under EU law. The Deputy should note that the KDB is open to all corporate taxpayers. However, the 6.25% corporate tax rate provided by the KDB only applies to income that is the result of substantive research and development carried out in Ireland. Deputies Richard Boyd Barrett and Eamon Ryan made the case that tax forgone on the KDB would be better put into universities to ensure the continuity of publicly funded research. I point to the fact that Science Foundation Ireland, SFI, an agency of my Department, invests approximately €160 million each year in academic researchers and research teams who are most likely to generate new knowledge, leading edge technologies and competitive enterprises in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Approximately half of SFI awards are investments in programmes for individual researchers and the other half is invested in collaborative awards with industry. In 2015, SFI directly supported 1,220 collaborations with industry. There were 711 multinational company, MNC, collaborations and 509 collaborations with SMEs, involving some 372 MNCs and 437 SMEs. Therefore, it is evident that smaller indigenous enterprises are also benefiting from SFI industry collaborations. When a researcher collaborates in a project with industry, both parties benefit.

Enterprise Ireland also facilitates access by industry to academic researchers. That encourages the academic research community to respond more effectively to industry needs. Each year, approximately 1,500 such industry-academic research development and innovation, RDI, engagements are supported by Enterprise Ireland. Through those supports, researchers are exposed to industry needs, market considerations and commercialisation necessities and are encouraged to adopt those principles into the research they perform. As such, they are made more industry ready and are primed to be even more useful if and when they leave academia for work in Irish companies.

I will turn now to a secondary part of the Bill relating to patents. It is important our legislation and practice keep pace with international developments in the area of patents. Patents are important business assets in world economies. By amending our patents legislation to introduce substantive examination, Irish patents will be granted in line with international best practice. Deputy Maurice Quinlivan commented on the Patents Office relying on the UK patents office to provide a search report for patent examination. There is a long-standing arrangement with the Intellectual Property Office in the United Kingdom and it is common practice within the patenting world that smaller offices avail of the search facilities provided by bigger and better resourced offices. The Patents Office has three patent examiners and one senior examiner. The industry standard for a patent searching authority in the modern world of complex engineering and pharmaceutical patent application requires a patents office to have a minimum of 100 experienced patent examiners. The arrangement with the UK office will not need to be reviewed in light of Brexit as patents are not harmonised at EU level. Each national patents office is independent. The search service offered by the IPO in the United Kingdom can and will continue after Brexit.

Deputy Maurice Quinlivan also raised the issue of third parties making written observations on patent applications. Again, that is standard practice in patent regimes operating substantive examination. It is part of the robust assessment of patent applications and offers, for example, existing patent holders the opportunity to comment if they consider their patent is impinged upon by the application under consideration.

The Bill will place Ireland at the forefront of developments to build a strong base for innovation. It will also act as a stimulus for business. It sends a signal that the Government recognises the value of intellectual property, IP, and is committed to providing a supportive environment for the development of IP. On the issue of future costs of patents under the new regime, no decision has yet been taken but I assure the Deputy that the current practice of State subsidisation to encourage patenting by indigenous companies will continue. That is best practice and in line with international norms. We are supporting innovation at the early stages and not just when companies make profits, for example, by means of research and development tax credit grants and support through SFI and Enterprise Ireland collaboration between the universities and industry. I thank Deputies for their engagement and very useful contributions and for the informative debate on this Bill. I look forward to further constructive engagement on Committee Stage.

  Question put and agreed to.

Knowledge Development Box (Certification of Inventions) Bill 2016 [Seanad]: Referral to Select Committee

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Mary Mitchell O'Connor): Information on Mary Mitchell O'Connor Zoom on Mary Mitchell O'Connor I move:

That the Bill be referred to the Select Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation pursuant to Standing Orders 84A(3)(a) and 149(1).

  Question put and agreed to.

Estimates for Public Services 2017: Message from Select Committee

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher The Select Committee on Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government has completed its consideration of the following Revised Estimates for Public Services for the year ending 31 December 2017: Vote 34.

Criminal Justice (Victims of Crime) Bill 2016: Order for Second Stage

Bill entitled an Act to give effect to provisions of Directive 2012/29/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2012 establishing minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime, and replacing Council Framework Decision 2001/220/JHA; for that purpose to amend the Criminal Evidence Act 1992, the Criminal Justice Act 1993 and the Courts Service Act 1998; and to provide for related matters.

Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald I move: "That Second Stage be taken now."

  Question put and agreed to.

Criminal Justice (Victims of Crime) Bill 2016: Second Stage

Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald I move: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

The Criminal Justice (Victims of Crime) Bill 2016 is groundbreaking legislation which I am pleased to introduce to the House today. It forms part of a series of legislative reforms I am advancing to improve victims' rights and their experience of the criminal justice system. Victims should be at the heart of the criminal justice system. This Bill, the Domestic Violence Bill, which complements it, and the Mediation Bill, which will be taken in the Houses this week, are all programme for Government commitments.

The three Bills introduce major and wide-ranging reforms that will widen access to justice in this country and ensure the justice system is on the side of the victim and the vulnerable. My Department has published 12 Bills since the Government was formed in May. Exactly one year on from last February's election, it is important to reflect on the legislative agenda we have progressed as a House, despite the new challenges of the Thirty-second Dáil.

I have said in this House previously that the needs of victims of crime have very often been overshadowed by a focus on apprehending and prosecuting perpetrators. We must ensure our response to criminal behaviour is a comprehensive one while putting the needs of victims at the forefront.

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