Provost, distinguished guests, ladies and gentleman.
Before I begin, I want to say a few words about your colleague, Professor Seamus Lawless, who went missing on Mount Everest last week. I’ve heard all about Shay’s inspirational character from people who have worked alongside him. And I know that his research projects have been transformative in the worlds of history as well as computer science.
His decision to climb Mount Everest to raise funds for Barretstown Children’s Charity exemplifies his character: courageous, determined, and always thinking of others. The Tánaiste has been in close contact with Shay’s family and we will do all we can to help. Like all of you, I hope Shay can be found and brought home. And our thoughts are with Shay and his family and friends at this difficult time.
Walking around the campus on my way to a play last week, I was struck by the banners and signs that are part of Trinity’s ambitious new philanthropic campaign and the message of ‘Inspiring Generations’.
That’s what Trinity has been doing for over four centuries and what it continues to do. This building itself was made possible because of generous philanthropic donations, and I want to pay tribute to the individuals and corporations who have contributed to creating a new kind of business education in Trinity. Philanthropy is a form of patriotism - one of the best - and we recognise and appreciate the help of all those who made this possible.
Stepping foot in this new building reminded me of a simple truth.
Trinity constantly changes, but it never loses the things we love so much.
You have always been able to look to the future, while being true to your past. And that’s what this new building and this new Business School represents.
It enables Trinity to offer a world-class business education to Ireland and to the world. Educating new generations in entrepreneurship, innovation and creativity.
Talent is the bedrock of our success story as a country. So an investment in education is a way of securing the very foundations of our economy and society.
Today Trinity is a university on the world stage, attracting students, professors and research talent from around the world in a globally competitive environment. The leadership of the Provost in the difficult years after the economic crash has been instrumental here, and in many ways this new building represents a comeback story for Irish universities.
Ireland has been through its own comeback in recent years.
Today we are nearing full employment, and have never had so many people at work, in education, or taking on apprenticeships. As a result, living standards are rising and poverty and deprivation rates are falling. We have balanced the books, we are reducing the national debt and we’ll make our first deposit into the “Rainy Day” fund this year.
We are of one the most globalised and open economies in the world. Open to investment, to capital, to trade, to talent and to creativity.
We see ourselves as an island at the centre of a connected and globalised world, committed to EU membership, the UN, free trade and free enterprise.
Like Trinity, we reject the pessimism of those around the world who want to turn inwards or to go back to a nostalgic beforetime that never existed. Instead we want to open ourselves to opportunities and possibilities on a global scale that we never had before.
Our ambition is to promote Irish culture and values around the world. We see that the challenges we face require comprehensive multilateral responses. It is the only way to make a significant difference on issues such as climate change, security, taxation in the new digital world, and migration.
Today’s opening also tells that global story. The first thing that stands out about this new building is its design. A near zero energy building, with natural ventilation, solar panels, and breath-taking green walls that I know will provide environmental and psychological benefits.
The building itself is a statement about how we see the future. About sustainability. About the environment.
Climate change is one of the greatest challenges facing humanity today.
It is a domestic challenge, a European challenge and a global challenge. No country on its own can stop it. So, all countries must act together.
I believe the greatest responsibility we have is to pass on our planet to the next generation in a better condition than we inherited it.
We’re doing well on recycling and renewable energy. On GHGs, we are behind.
We are behind, but we are catching up. Every individual, family, community and business will have to make changes. And this innovative building shows us what is possible.
So, Government will work with people, industry and communities to chart the best and most inclusive way forward.
In our National Development Plan – Project Ireland 2040 - we are investing €21.8 billion over the next ten years to help this transition. Investment in things like:
- Renewable energy; (30% today, to 70% in 2030)
- Electric vehicle infrastructure;
- Building insulation;
- Electrification of some of our railways;
- More buses; (the first low-emission ones went into service this week in Dublin)
- Better walking and cycling infrastructure; and
- Rural broadband to encourage home working and reduce commuting.
The Government will soon agree an ‘All of Government Plan to Tackle Climate Disruption’. It will align with other work we are doing to create a sustainable and future-proofed economy in Ireland.
Provost, This new building represents a new vision of business education, one that is ambitious and has a global outlook. The Business School will help us achieve our ambition of making Ireland a European innovation hub.
As a Government we are working to build more places that can foster enterprise and innovation and attract investment and talent.
Similarly, Trinity has a vision for Dublin and for Ireland which includes the pioneering E3 Institute and the Grand Canal Innovation District. The Business School is integral to that vision.
Our mission is to drive collaboration between Ireland’s world-class research base and industry. So under Project Ireland 2040 the Government is investing half a billion euro between now and 2027 into the research, development and deployment of disruptive technologies and applications on a commercial basis.
Under the first call, Trinity will receive over €4 million in funding over the next three years for 4 projects that you are working on with 6 different partners.
This new Business School will educate students for the jobs of tomorrow. Jobs that do not exist today; jobs that may be created by the men and women who study here.
As a Government we are also preparing for the world of the future. We all know that in the next decades, AI, robotics and automated vehicles will change our world as much as the internet and the mobile phone did in the recent past. We need to be ready to benefit from the new jobs and new wealth that will be created.
If we are to have the economy and society we want in 2025 – low carbon, high productivity, high tech, family friendly, globally traded and competitive, we need to create the environment where that is possible now.
Every generation needs to shake up its enterprise and jobs model, otherwise it stagnates. So we are working to change the way we work. We are preparing for Future Jobs as well as for the jobs of today.
As part of this, we are launching a competitive call for proposals under the new Human Capital Initiative to invest €300 million in higher education over the 5 years.
One of the major long-term challenges we face is to improve the competitiveness and productivity of our domestically owned SMEs. By 2025 we want to be recognised as the home of dynamic, high achieving, Irish owned SMEs with a talented and adaptable workforce. This is the next phase of our national development.
So we need to improve the leadership and management skills of the people working within our SMEs sector. We need to create a new mind-set where management and business skills are made accessible to the management tier of our SMEs so that these businesses can drive forward. This Business School can help us achieve that ambition.
One final thought.
The business of Trinity is education. Inspiring new minds and creating new ideas that will change the world. This new building will help you do that in the 21st century and beyond. I want to congratulate the Trinity community of students, staff and alumni around the world for making this possible, and I wish you every success for the future.