[The urgently and long-awaited] Innovation taskforce says 120,000 jobs can be created – The Irish Times – Wed, Mar 10, 2010
There’s going to be lots on this over the next few days, and deservedly so. However, this is a strategy to transform the economy and it will take a decade or more to see the effects of it. There will have to be step-changes in how we do things in the Irish economy, and the same old solutions proffered from the past will have to be set aside. Are our politicians the equal of this challenge? The change required is of a similar order to that of Donough O’Malley’s ‘free education’ initiative: the social, economic and political consequences of that decision were not felt for a decade or more afterward. Will we hear some maverick economists saying we shouldn’t attempt this knowledge-generation and innovation-driven transformation of the economy?
Significantly, it also commits the Government to investing at least 3 per cent of gross domestic product in research and development until 2020. The Government had made no firm commitment to research spending beyond 2013.
This national target for R n D has to be supported and implemented. It is not just the voice of the self-interested looking to support some investment in research: the simple truth is that we can’t remain rich and stupid for long.
Some other points:
** New moves to develop and market Ireland as an International Innovation Services Centre offering global IP management, licensing and trading services.
** Transformation in the scale and nature of the Irish venture capital environment by attracting top-tier venture financing to Ireland so as to successfully scale innovative companies.
The path from university research to innovation is much more complicated, unpredictable, uncontrollable and non-linear than anyone would expect. See this post on the process at Cambridge University; see this superb article from the Financial Times on science, technology and innovation as wealth and employment generators; see this post on tapping the riches of science, which analyses the US experience of turning university research into wealth and jobs; and this post on remandating the IFSC and this post on re-engineering incentives in the Irish economy toward research and innovation.
We need nothing less than the rapid evolution of a new research and innovation ecosystem, where university research plays its part, but is not expected to play a part that there is no evidence it can play. Universities are not good at near-market research – this is properly the purview of companies that can make the decisions, based on their market information, about what their customers want (because they have price signals!). [Universities , however, can and should provide ‘soft research’ services where possible and appropriate to industry (perhaps through spin-outs, as the link to Cambridge above shows. ]
And – enough with the reports! Let’s see action.