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Advisory Science Council calls for excellence in commercialisation to ensure Ireland gets return on investment in Research

Date: 05 June 2009 

The Advisory Science Council, established to advise Government on how science, technology and innovation can contribute to Ireland’s economic and social development, today commented that to effectively convert our investments in science and research into products, services and business that there must be a significant change in mindset and focus.

“Our research landscape has transformed dramatically due to the significant increases in investment.  As a consequence of these investments Ireland is now on the map as a country where groundbreaking research is being undertaken by research teams of scale and of the highest calibre”, stated Mary Cryan, Chair of the Advisory Science Council.  “It is critical that we take stock and put in place the structures and supports to ensure that our achievements to date are translated into economic benefit in the future.  We must strive not only for excellence in research but excellence in the commercialisation of this research,” she said.

“We need to look at all the options available to us in the commercialisation of our research.  Our highly qualified scientists must develop business as well as scientific skills in order to make their scientific expertise commercially viable.  Graduate schools can facilitate high level research students to undergo specific practical training modules in enterprise skills such as management and marketing, as well as undertaking their core research project. This is an international trend whereby participants in graduate research programmes learn relevant practical business skills, from intellectual property management to commercialisation skills, and Ireland should follow this trend. This could help Ireland achieve its ambition of developing knowledge-based enterprises that are highly innovative in world markets.”

“We must also seek out and support those with business skills, who understand science, who can see market potential and who can bring that potential to fruition in the form of products and services that are in demand globally. Science and technology are foundations of a successful economic future for Ireland, but scientists and enterprise must support each other to make sure Ireland’s research is really put to work,” commented Cryan.

The Advisory Science Council recently hosted a forum which gathered together leading national and international scientists, innovators and entrepreneurs to discuss how Ireland can capitalise on in its investment science and technology. The purpose of the forum was for the leaders from different aspects of the science, technology and innovation system to share views on how Ireland can maximise the revenue potential of its investment in STI.

The most critical issue of concern to the assembled experts was the difficulties in the pipeline of students coming through the education system who achieve excellent outcomes in science, technology, engineering and maths.

“Maths and core science subjects are fundamental ingredient for Ireland’s development as a modern economy, important for both service and manufacturing jobs.  Boosting our pipeline of students is critical to our aspirations for a future as a leading knowledge economy.  If we do not attain the highest levels of achievement in maths and core science subjects we will have little to offer the global economy and jobs will go to other economies,” commented Cryan.

The outcomes from the forum will inform the activities and advice of the Advisory Science Council.

Notes to Editors

The Advisory Science Council’s recent forum was presented to by Conor Lenihan, TD, Minister for Science, Technology and Natural Resources, Professor Mark O’ Malley, Director of Electricity Research, UCD, Professor Martina Newell, McGloughlin, University of California, Professor Luke O’Neill, Trinity College and Peter Robbins, GlaxoSmithKline.  Outcomes and discussions from the forum will inform the activities and advice of the Advisory Science Council.

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