SEÁN Sherlock, the Minister for Research and Innovation has welcomed the conclusions of a study carried out by PA Consulting for the Higher Education Authority on the impact of the State’s investment in a range of research centres and initiatives funded in the period 2000-2006.
The study examines impacts from Exchequer investment in 45 research centres or initiatives initiated under the Programme for Research in Third Level Institutions (PRTLI).
The study found that the impact in terms of direct commercial benefit alone is of the order of €1.861bn from an Exchequer investment of €1.182bn.
The study identified 50 companies that have validated a benefit of €753m with an expected potential return in the next five years of a further €1.108bn.
This is in addition to the significant research infrastructure built as part of the programme, which has transformed the Irish higher education and research landscape. The report does not quantify indirect economic benefits, such as attracting foreign direct investment and the benefits of a highly skilled workforce.
The study found that the return exceeded international benchmarks.
Minister Sherlock said, “Ireland is now recognised as a truly credible research performing country, having recently broken into the world’s top 20 overall.
“And we are ranked even higher in terms of our scientific capacity in specific fields such as 3rd in immunology, 8th in materials science and 11th in computer science.
“As a consequence Ireland has recently won much greater levels of research / higher-value FDI than previously was the case plus a greater number of indigenous companies are now engaging in R&D, all resulting in the creation of new products, increased exports capacity, and crucially retaining and creating high quality employment for our economy.
“This study underlines the positive impact of Exchequer investment in research and development. It not only shows the commercial benefits quantified by companies engaging with the research centres and initiatives studied, it also highlights those impacts which although unquantifiable, are no less crucial for the economy and society.
“The study has also shown that most of the beneficial impacts have only been realised in the very recent past.
“Given the nature of this investment, it is to be expected that the full effect will only be realised over an extended period of time.
“Many of the beneficial consequences from research investment, as has been found internationally, are difficult to quantify in monetary terms.
“These include those that accrue from improvements in health and well-being, the improvements to our environment, the enrichment of our heritage and culture and in general the evolution of a better quality of life.
“The enhancement of our reputation as a research base leads to further beneficial economic impact through the attraction of foreign direct investment and other effects such as multiplier effects from the investment in terms of indirect and induced expenditure have also not been quantified in the study,” he said.