Ireland climbing the innovation performance table
Investment is targeted in areas of greater returns such as ICT networks and agri-food.
The fund supports strategic, smart investments and is underpinned by a guarantee from the EU budget. In Ireland, it has already supported the planned 14 new primary health care centres, improvements to drinking water and wind farms off the west coast.
By focusing on removing obstacles to investment, making smarter use of new and existing financial resources, the fund offers new opportunities to fund innovative projects in addition to what’s available under Horizon 2020, the €80 billion EU research and innovation programme.
Already Ireland has an excellent track record in attracting EU funding for science, research and innovation. It ranks with the top performers in attracting funding from the European Research Council, with 70 projects funded. Irish SMEs had the highest success rate at 20 per cent in the first wave of Horizon 2020 grants under the SME Instrument, which is worth €3 billion.
We very much expect that Ireland will continue to be one of the top performers in attracting EU R&D funding.
Horizon 2020 is now much more focused in getting ideas from the lab to market and on generating genuine economic and social impact.
In concrete terms, this means more funding for prototyping, demonstrators, piloting with users, and on providing equity and loans to help give start-ups and high- growth innovative firms the kick-start they need. Ireland with its entrepreneurial spirit is well-placed to benefit from this new emphasis.
As well as benefiting from EU funds, being part of the European Research Area means Ireland can contribute significantly to global research and development.
Irish universities, institutes of technology and companies have enthusiastically taken part in important international research teams and this will continue apace using all the funding instruments available.
Political consensus now exists across Europe on the vital role that innovation will play in building Europe’s future and Ireland is an important player on the European scene. By using our combined resources effectively at Union, member state, regional or local levels, I believe we can look to the future with confidence.
Barbara Nolan is head of the European Commission Representation in Ireland