Question to the Minister of State at the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Mr Sean Sherlock, TD)
To ask the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the measures being taken to align funding for scientific research with industry and enterprise needs, job opportunities and societal goals; and if he will make a statement on the matter. – Jerry Buttimer.
For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 16th July, 2013.
In February 2012, the Government agreed to the implementation of the recommendations in the Report of the Research Prioritisation Steering Group as a whole of Government policy goal. The report recommended the alignment of the majority share of competitive State funding in research and innovation for the next five years with the 14 areas of opportunity identified by the Steering Group. The areas, which include sectors such as food, health, ICT, manufacturing, energy, and innovation in services and business processes, were identified on the basis of existing strengths of the enterprise base, opportunities that exist in terms of the global marketplace and those which are most likely to deliver economic and societal impact, and jobs.
Following publication of the report in March 2012, the Prioritisation Action Group (PAG) was established, under my chairmanship, to drive implementation of research prioritisation, and it includes representatives of all research funders and relevant Government Departments. A number of working groups were then established by the PAG and charged with developing Action Plans for each of the Priority Areas. Each Action Plan was validated through a process of external stakeholder engagement which involved researchers and industry in the relevant areas and publication of the Action Plans was recently approved by Government. The Action Plans represent the detailed blueprint for actions to be taken by funding Departments and funding agencies to re-align the majority of competitive public research funding around the priority areas over the next five years.
A Framework of Metrics and Targets for Monitoring the Impact of Science Technology and Innovation (STI) Investment has also been approved for publication. The Framework of metrics and targets will firstly monitor the impact of public STI investment, and, secondly, monitor the impact of the implementation of Research Prioritisation on the 14 Priority Areas. The purpose of setting these targets is twofold; to stretch the public enterprise support system in order to maximise the impact of public investment in R&D; and to assess the success over time of the implementation of Research Prioritisation.
Implementation of Research Prioritisation is very much the Government’s priority STI goal and a key pillar of the Action Plan for Jobs 2013 is ‘Using Research and Innovation to Drive Job Creation’. Building on success to date, I am looking forward to continued implementation of the Research Prioritisation exercise, as we seek to enhance the effect and impact of our research investment in order to deliver high quality, sustainable jobs.