Framework for Optimising Future State Investment in Irish Industry-Academia Collaborative Research set out in New Study

Posted on: 19 November 2007

Study on Industry-University Collaboration launched in TCD

A study on industry-academia collaboration published by the Policy Institute was launched in Trinity College Dublin by the Director of the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), Frances Ruane on November 19th last. The Policy Institute is a multi-disciplinary public policy research institute based in TCD.

The paper which has been written by Nicki O’Connor of Enterprise Ireland (manager of its campus incubation programme) sets out a framework for optimising future state investments in collaborative research activity, and highlights key insights from models used in other countries, such as Sweden and Austria.

The author’s study feeds into a number of questions dominating today’s economic agenda: How to keep Irish economy growing, while ensuring growth is sustainable? How to create more and better jobs, given the intense competition Ireland faces from lower-cost economies? How to bring new and high-quality products to market?

The creation and use of knowledge is at the heart of the Irish Government’s plans for driving sustainable future economic growth in Ireland . Collaboration between industry and academia is an acknowledged pivotal dynamic within this and, therefore, the Government is placing increased emphasis on its enhancement. Competence centres – typically centres based in the third-level sector that deliver an industry-driven medium term research programme – are a critical element of this planned approach.

“This study sets the scene for the establishment of such centres in Ireland by exploring the theory underpinning industry-academia collaboration and by considering international good practice”, commented the author, Nicki O’Connor.  “This forms the basis for examination of the development of Irish activity in this space: identifying core objectives of the planned investment in competence centres, useful lessons from abroad as well as characteristics particular to the Irish environment that need to be taken into consideration”.

Speaking at the launch of the study, the Head of the ESRI, Frances Ruane said:

Ireland is currently spending hundreds of millions on research and development under the National Development Plan in the strong belief that this will help secure high economic growth rates into the future.  For this goal to be achieved, it is essential that policy be both correctly designed and coherently implemented”. 

“In the case of university-industry links, the idea of competence centres seems sensible as we need to make the cross-over between academic research and business if R&D spend is to transfer into economic activity in Ireland .  However, the idea is not enough – we must have policy designed and implemented so that it delivers that end,” said the ESRI director.

“The competence centre initiative is part of the Government’s Strategy for Science, Technology and Innovation and has recently been launched by Enterprise Ireland and the IDA.  It is an important step in industrial development policy here and one whose progress will be watched with interest by many,” concluded  Nicki O’Connor.

Nicki O’Connor was a fellow of the TCD Policy Institute.  The fellowship programme promotes the interchange of ideas between academe and policy communities of Dublin .