I am very pleased to be here today for the naming of this new multi-million Research, Development and Innovation facility.
I am delighted to announce that this splendid new facility will be known as the Dargan Centre, in honour of the life and achievements of one of Carlow’s most famous citizens, William Dargan.
I understand that this new wing will be completed in November and I would like to congratulate everyone involved.
This fantastic new centre will consist of 2500sq metres across three floors with specialist science and design laboratories, write up spaces, innovation spaces, lecture theatres and seminar rooms.
William Dargan is possibly the most prominent Irish engineer, entrepreneur and innovator of the 19th century. I understand that he attended school in Graiguecullen, just across the river, a stone’s throw from where we are standing now.
Throughout his life Dargan made a wonderful contribution to the fabric of the nation.
One of his major achievements was bringing railways to Ireland.
He is also known as an enlightened employer, a social innovator and a patron of the arts.
William Dargan played a key role in the Great Dublin Exhibition of 1853 and was a founder of the National Gallery. Such a rounded career reflects the man’s energy, enthusiasm and sense of public service.
These are values which I know IT Carlow fosters and encourages as a community.
Since it first opened its doors, the Institute has had a clear and progressive plan focused on the development and enhancement its facilities.
Since 1970, more than 30,000 graduates have progressed through the Institute. Over time, the range and scope of programmes offered has grown to encompass a varied portfolio that includes Aeronautics, Ordnance, Business, Humanities, Bio and Information Technology.
I’d like to pay tribute the Institute here for developing programmes that equip students with the skills Ireland needs over many decades.
Ireland as a knowledge based economy
The Government has been actively pursuing the creation of a knowledge based economy.
There is no better way of ensuring that our society is creative and innovative, than to lead by example and by providing innovative and creative teaching and learning opportunities in our higher education institutions.
A well educated and well trained work force that embraces knowledge, innovation and lifelong learning will be the very basis for our future competitiveness.
The Action Plan for Jobs includes as a key disruptive reform the goal of making Ireland the most attractive country in the world for ICT skills availability.
By 2018 we aim to have the highest percentage of computing graduates as a proportion of all tertiary graduates.
The aim this year is to deliver an additional 2,000 ICT graduate-level professionals available to industry.
Time and time again I hear from senior domestic and foreign managers that our workforce is one of the biggest attractions to locating business in Ireland.
R&D, Innovation and Collaborations
Research investments have already had a very positive impact on our industrial development and highlights how research, development and innovation can contribute significantly to job creation and economic prosperity.
As you know, investment in science, technology and innovation is a key priority for this Government.
In Ireland, we want a research base that is well connected to the enterprise sector through collaborations and partnerships.
Close co-operation between our higher education institutions and business has benefits for all. It promotes the relevance and attractiveness of higher education programmes, provides business with the skilled people that it needs and provides assurances for graduates around the relevance and marketability of their skills.
That relationship is more important now than ever before as we seek to ensure growth and sustainability for the future.
While our institutions have developed a strong research base, the focus of the next stage in our system's development must be on our ability to maximise the impact of our research results in terms of the commercialisation and its conversion into real sustainable jobs. And this is where the strength of the partnerships with enterprise comes to the fore.
I’m delighted to see increased cooperation between enterprise and academia, to ensure that research and development is commercialised.
The Government’s strategy is to accelerate the economic and societal return on our research investment, to further strengthen enterprise engagement and take-up of public research and to drive commercialisation.
Collaboration between industry, government, enterprise and academia is in our view a win-win situation for both businesses and the State.
This research and innovation hub will be a significant resource for the Institute, for local business and for the wider regional community.
The overall objective of the Government’s Action Plan for Jobs is to get the Irish economy back on the path to sustainable, exporting, innovative and enterprise-led growth.
This new facility will foster the commercial and development needs of IT Carlow’s industry partners and it will further stimulate an existing culture of innovation.