The second meeting of the Implementation Group for the Innovation Taskforce took place yesterday afternoon. It had a pretty full attendance, but was held in a relatively small conference room in the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Innovation – the atmosphere became pretty warm by the end of the meeting 🙂 Minister O’Keefe presided.
There have been a number of public announcements relating to the work of the Taskforce since our first meeting. The most significant of these was the confirmation of the Innovation Fund, which I posted about here. But in addition, there has been the PRTLI-5 announcement of further State investment in R&D infrastructure, 296Meuro matched by a further 63Meuro of private funding. There has also been a group established specifically to push through our recommendations on technology transfer and intellectual property, chaired by (the well known entrepreneur) Jim Mountjoy.
At yesterday’s meeting, we received an update on these activities.
We were given further good news about the State investment in innovation, which will be announced in the forthcoming budget. I am not at liberty to disclose the details here, but they include increased activity co-ordinated by Enterprise Ireland for both seed and angel funding for start-ups, as well as increased activity for scaling high potential start-ups (HPSUs). R&D grant aid and voucher schemes are also receiving added momentum. Academic led research by SFI will also be given additional capital resources.
A programme to attract overseas entrepreneurs to locate their new ventures in Ireland is being put together, and I hope I can personally contribute to this initiative.
A programme for CFOs, similar in style to the successful Leadership For Growth programme for CEOs, is now out for tender and a number of interested parties have responded.
Another major theme of our recommendations, convergence – joint R&D in overlapping technology markets – is also receiving attention via the Convergence Steering Council.
We also received confirmation that 2012 Leaving Certificate students (who are starting their Leaving Certificate cycle in just a few weeks time) will definitely receive additional credit for taking honours level mathematics – the details are about to be announced. The Project Maths initiative is also now being rolled out nationwide, with 5,900 teachers being given access to further training.
Some areas which I believe require further clarity and attention include the European Accelerator programme (for high potential venture backed foreign firms); accessing international venture debt; the “flagship” project mechanism, which necessarily is cross-Government and cross-Department; innovation economy metrics; and some of the taxation recommendations.
But overall: I was pleased by the progress since the first meeting, and I look forward to further momentum building.