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Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys TD and Minister of State for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development, John Halligan TD, welcome progress in the implementation of Innovation 2020

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Ms Heather Humphreys TD and Minister of State for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development, Mr John Halligan TD, welcomed the publication of the third Progress Report on implementation of Innovation 2020, Ireland’s cross-Government strategy for research and development, science and technology, today 19th July 2018.

Welcoming the report, Minister Heather Humphreys said: “Now that we have passed the midway point of Innovation 2020, it is encouraging to see the amount of work being done in research, development and innovation across the board in Ireland.

“Since the launch of Innovation 2020 in December 2015, we have continued to build on our reputation for excellence, with top-class enterprises and researchers and increased collaboration across the public sector, academia and enterprise.

“My Department’s job is to support the future that is being imagined by our researchers and innovators and to deliver the targeted funding and supports to keep Irish based businesses relevant and at the vanguard of technological development. It is with the support of our colleagues across all Government departments and agencies that fund RDI that we can continue to build a robust innovation ecosystem and realise the targets set out in Innovation 2020.

“Our ambition is for Ireland to be a Global Innovation Leader. Ireland has moved one place closer to realising this ambition in the 2018 European Innovation Scoreboard. High levels of public investment in RDI are a hallmark of the top EU Innovation Leaders. We need to continue to prioritise investment in RDI.”

Commenting on the Progress Report, Minister Halligan said: “I’m proud of the great work being done in RDI in Ireland, presented in this year’s Progress Report, but we cannot rest on our laurels. The results of the European Innovation Scoreboard demonstrate that Ireland delivers excellent value for money in research, development and innovation. However, the rapidly changing technological landscape and uncertain socio-economic environment demands that we prioritise public and private investment in RDI in order to continue to support our researchers and innovators, further develop our research infrastructure, ensure the Irish enterprise base optimises its potential and reach for our goal of becoming a Global Innovation Leader.”

Implementation of the actions in Innovation 2020 is driven by a cross departmental and cross agency Implementation Group, chaired by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation. Highlights this year include:

  • The Research Prioritisation refresh, an extensive consultation process which revised the research priority areas for the majority of competitively awarded public investment in research, resulting in a set of priorities that reflect both key societal challenges to be addressed and relevant market opportunities for Ireland;
  • The announcement of the SFI Centres for Research Training Programme, a postgraduate programme that will see an investment of over €100 million from the Government of Ireland to meet industry skills needs. This programme is expected to see approximately 600 additional postgraduate students being trained, with approximately 20% of these funded from other sources such as industry, universities or charitable organisations;
  • The launch of the €500 million Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund, to drive collaboration between our research base and industry in support of the development and adoption of disruptive technologies;
  • An additional 6 new apprenticeship and 8 new traineeship programmes were announced by the Department of Education and Skills to help meet the growing needs of Ireland’s most innovation-intensive sectors;
  • The Irish Research Council announced new Laureate awards, funding additional 50 postdoctoral positions in frontier research;
  • 7 challenges launched in 2017 and approval for a further 11 in 2018 under the Small Business Innovation Research mechanism;
  • Further success under Horizon 2020, the EU Framework Programme for R&D, with €513 million secured – on course to reach our target of €1.25 billion;
  • The launch of the National Policy Statement on the Bioeconomy;
  • Ireland's application for membership to the European Southern Observatory (ESO) was unanimously approved by ESO Council on 5th June 2018. Dáil Eireann ratified the terms and conditions of Ireland's accession on 27th June 2018.
  • The €2 million Irish Low Frequency Array, or I-LOFAR radio telescope was switched on at Birr Castle in Co Offaly in July 2017.

Minister Humphreys added: “Work is already underway on an interim review of Innovation 2020 to be published later this year. This will give us the opportunity to reflect on the achievements to date, identify potential issues and ensure focus is kept on delivering the key remaining actions needed to deliver on this ambitious strategy.”


The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation (DBEI) plays a key role in implementing the Government’s policies of stimulating the productive capacity of the economy and creating an environment which supports job creation and maintenance. The Department also has a remit to promote fair competition in the marketplace, protect consumers and safeguard workers.

If you would like more information about this topic, please call DBEI Press Office at (01) 6312200, or email

Note to Editor:

Innovation 2020, Ireland's strategy for research and development, science and technology, was launched in December 2015 and articulates Ireland’s ambition to become a Global Innovation Leader. The whole of Government strategy aims to build on the significant successes which have seen Ireland dramatically improve its innovation performance globally. Goals in the strategy include:

  • Excellent research performed in strategically important areas with relevance and impact for the economy and society;
  • A strong, innovative and internationally competitive enterprise base, growing employment, sales and exports;
  • The development of a renowned pool of talent in Ireland’s public research system and in industry, which maximises exchange of talent and knowledge between the two;
  • A coherent, joined-up innovation ecosystem, responsive to emerging opportunities, delivering enhanced impact through the creation and application of knowledge; and
  • An internationally competitive research system that acts as a magnet and catalyst for talent and industry.

The strategy includes commitments and targets to:

  • Secure €1.25bn in funding from Horizon 2020, the EU Framework Programme for Research & Innovation;
  • Target the majority of competitive funding at six enterprise themes namely ICT, Health & Medical, Food, Energy, Manufacturing & Materials and Innovation is Services & Business Processes – specific focus on building capacity in cross cutting areas of manufacturing and services;
  • Optimise the network of market focussed Research and Technology Centres building critical mass and addressing needs of enterprise;
  • Improve the framework condition for Intellectual Property, enhance support for commercialisation of research and transfer of knowledge from public system to enterprise and increase IP activity in enterprise;
  • Increase research masters and PhD enrolments and deliver a 30% increase in post docs;
  • Build further international cooperation to maintain and enhance our scientific excellence;
  • Deliver modernised public services in an efficient manner to meet growing needs and expectations.

Innovation 2020 consists of 140 actions, consisting of 93 headline actions and 43 sub actions to complete by 2020. This report shows that 18 actions have been completed, 12 are nearly complete, 93 are ongoing, 5 are newly initiated and 3 are yet to be initiated.

Expenditure on research, development and innovation (RDI) consists of both public and private expenditure. Gross investment in R&D was €3.2 billion in 2016. This is an increase of over half a billion euro since 2011. The estimated expenditure on R&D by Government departments in 2017 is €768 million. This represents an increase of almost €40 million over 2016 and is the highest level of public expenditure on RDI since 2012.

A very significant part of our innovation policy is to align public investment efforts in a manner that leverages RDI activity in the enterprise sectors. While private spending on RDI slowed during the financial crisis, it has been increasing steadily since 2011. Business Expenditure on R&D rose to €2.3 billion in 2016 from €1.7 billion in 2011, an increase of over 35%.

The report can be found here: Innovation 2020 Progress Report