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Speech by the Taoiseach, Mr. Enda Kenny, T.D., at the launch of ‘Innovation 2020’ at the Innovation Showcase 2015 at the Convention Centre, Tuesday 8 December, 2015

Good afternoon,

I am delighted to be here today at the Innovation Showcase 2015, the second year of this successful event to bring together all the work that is being done between public research and industry.

Today I am here to launch the Government’s new five year national Strategy for research and development, science and technology – Innovation 2020.

Supporting new research and development is a key part of our plan to keep the recovery going by helping to create new jobs and new opportunities for research.

Everyone who has come to this conference today has their own idea of what innovation means. I’m sure if I asked 1,000 people in this building to define innovation, I’d get 1,000 answers, each one influenced by everyone’s own experiences and priorities.
As Taoiseach, I see innovation as our capacity to identify and embrace change.

I believe that Ireland is perfectly positioned to lead from the front in this fast moving world.

One of my visions for the future is to make Ireland the best small country in the world for business, to raise a family and to grow old.

I have been asked why there is a focus on ‘small country’. Because I believe small is good. Small is nimble, fast moving, and quick to change direction to take advantage of new opportunities.

I have seen time again how Irish enterprise agencies, third level institutions and industry can spot new opportunities and move quickly on them. The Government can introduce new legislation, regulations and funding at a speed that larger countries might not be able to match.

The new research and technology centres are fantastic examples of the public and private sectors responding to change and taking the lead.

This national approach to change is vital for job creation. It is at the heart of the Action Plan for Jobs – that has supported the delivery of more than 135,000 jobs since the process began – and is a central pillar of our long term economic plan to deliver full employment by 2020.

Innovation 2020 is a key element in our plan to keep the recovery going.

It sets out a vision in which Ireland would become a Global Innovation Leader – with research, development, science and technology all contributing to this goal.

It builds on Ireland’s pioneering culture in science and technology.

Today is the 82nd anniversary of the death of the Irish engineer, physicist and professor of geology, John Joly.

100 years ago, Joly’s geological research led to him developing a method of extracting radium which he then applied to the treatment of cancer.

Joly’s design for efficient radiotherapy was a forerunner for the radiotherapy that is being performed in hospitals around the world today.

On Thursday, another of our own, Donegal native Professor William C. Campbell, will receive the Nobel Prize in Medicine he has been awarded for his work in discovering a new drug which kills infection-causing parasitic roundworm.

Professor Campbell’s discovery will result in untold improvements in the lives of hundreds of millions of people annually who are fighting debilitating diseases. The consequences, in terms of improved human health and reduced suffering, are immeasurable.

Every time I walk into work in Government Buildings, I pass between the statues of mathematician William Hamilton and scientist Robert Boyle.

The work of Irish people in science and medicine has made a rich contribution to the world, not just in taking their disciplines forward, but in bringing real and lasting benefits to society, transforming lives.

Since 2009, Ireland has been listed among the top 20 countries in global rankings for the quality of our scientific research with our ranking in citations moving up to 16th place in 2014.

Our reputation for research excellence has been a major catalyst in our success in attracting and maintaining foreign direct investment, and this Strategy demonstrates that we remain strongly committed to maintaining and improving standards in the excellence of our research.

It acknowledges that Ireland’s greatest asset has always been our talented people.

Ireland is the European country with the highest proportion of young people. We now have the opportunity to nurture this talent to best serve the needs of our society and economy.

This Strategy demonstrates how we will do this, including by increasing enrolments in research Masters and PhDs to meet growing demand for talent from enterprise.

We will continue to ensure that research is supported in strategically important areas that have impact for the economy and for society.

This includes research that has direct relevance for the enterprise base, and meets the needs of society including through improving the quality of our public services.

It will also help us protect the environment and our natural resources and assist us in ensuring food security and sustainability of energy supply.

Key to our success has been our ability to translate research into economic impact. We are ranked first in Europe for our knowledge transfer system, and this Government is committed to continue to enhance our tax environment to encourage more investment and job creation, through innovation;

As part of our recent Budget 2016, we have introduced the world’s first OECD-compliant Knowledge Development Box with a competitive rate of 6.25% corporation tax on qualifying income resulting from R&D carried out in Ireland.

We are also ranked first in terms of how innovative firms are, and economic success stemming from innovation in terms of employment, revenue and exports.

Horizon 2020, the EU Programme for Research and Innovation, offers researchers and companies in Ireland the opportunity to collaborate with academia and enterprise across Europe.

Ireland exceeded our target for Horizon 2020 funding in 2014 and we have set an ambitious goal of securing €1.25 billion funding over the seven years of the programme. Early indications are that we are on track to achieve this.

We must ensure that the Irish innovation and research system remains agile so that we have the capacity and capability to exploit opportunities in new and emerging areas.

To ensure that we maintain capacity and capability across all disciplines, we are committing to supporting frontier research across all disciplines, the key criterion for which will be excellent research.

These new incentives for private sector research matched with a recovering economy will help us reach our target of increasing public and private investment in research to 2.5% of GNP by 2020.

These ambitions can only be achieved if we keep the recovery going.
We have a long term economic plan to do just that.

It is based on three steps:

First, more and better jobs, spread right across the country;

Second, rewarding hard work, and ensuring that all jobs pay more than welfare; and

Third, better public services using the resources from a growing economy and rising employment.

More people in work creates the resources to cut taxes for working people and invest in better services, creating a virtuous circle of rising employment and improving living standards.

We’ll also continue to make responsible and prudent decisions to keep the economy strong and the recovery going.

By keeping the recovery going we can make Ireland the best small country in the world for business, to raise a family and to grow old.

The Government’s Innovation 2020 strategy launched today will keep research and development, science and technology, at the heart of Ireland’s recovery.

Thank you.