IOP welcomes new science and innovation strategy

8 December 2015

The Institute of Physics has welcomed today’s launch of a new five-year strategy for science and innovation by An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny.

Innovation 2020 highlights the key role of research in Ireland’s economy and has set out some ambitious targets including spending a total of 2.5% of GNP each year on research and development by both the public and private sectors by 2020. This would represent a doubling of the current spend in this area and bringing Ireland above the EU average for the first time.

However, the IOP notes with caution that as yet there is no clarity as to how these targets will be funded and achieved and looks forward to costing and budget information being released in due course.

The IOP is particularly pleased to note the commitment to a new competitive interdisciplinary fund to be established by the Irish Research Council within two years, to promote early-stage cutting-edge research. In recent years funding for such basic research has been severely depleted and this announcement coupled with the proposed 30% increase in postgraduate places, to bring the number to 2250, represents a welcome redress in this vital part of the research eco-system.

The IOP also welcomes plans to explore options for membership of CERN and the European Southern Observatory. The IOP has long called for membership of these organisations, believing that Irish access to such instruments is vital both for research scientists in Ireland and for the business community who will be in a position to bid for valuable contracts [1] [2].

Dr Peter van der Burgt, IOP Ireland co-chair, said:

“I certainly agree with the views outlined in the strategy that science is an essential route to growth and prosperity. Physics-based industries provide over 86,000 jobs and have a gross value added to the economy of €7.4 billion annually [3].

The plans to increase R&D spending and explore membership of new international facilities are particularly welcome. We very much look forward to tracking the progress of the strategy, and will be interested to follow how its spending commitments are implemented.”

[1] The Case for Irish Membership of the CERN: http://www.iopireland.org/publications/iopi/file_63378.pdf

[2] The Case for Irish Membership of the European Southern Observatory: http://www.iopireland.org/publications/iopi/file_63462.pdf

[3] The Importance of physics to the Irish economy: http://www.iopireland.org/publications/iopi/file_59019.pdf

Further Information:

Dr Sheila Gilheany

Policy Adviser

Institute of Physics in Ireland

c/o School of Physics

UCD

Belfield

Dublin 4

M +353 86 2600903
sheila.gilheany@iop.org

www.iopireland.org

The Institute of Physics is a scientific charity devoted to increasing the practice, understanding and application of physics. It has a worldwide membership of over 50 000 of which over 2000 are part of the Institute of Physics in Ireland. It is a leading communicator of physics-related science to all audiences, from specialists through to government and the general public. Its publishing company, IOP Publishing, is a world leader in scientific publishing and the electronic dissemination of physics.