Irish universities are major drivers of research and innovation in Ireland. Their cumulative expenditure of €632 million in 2017 spans the full range of research fields including engineering and technology, natural sciences, medical and health sciences, social sciences, agriculture and food and humanities.
Irish universities account for 20% of total annual national expenditure on R&D and represent 83% of all R&D expenditure in the higher education sector.
Irish universities accounted for approximately 50% of total funding raised by Irish enterprises and institutions under the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme between March 2014 and May 2019. Horizon 2020 is the biggest EU research and innovation programme with the aims of ensuring Europe produces world-class science, removes barriers to innovation and makes it easier for the public and private sectors to work together in delivering innovation. The predominance of the Irish universities as the destination for Horizon 2020 funding in Ireland is indicative of their important role in supporting innovation in Ireland. In the context of Brexit, there may be additional opportunities for Irish universities and enterprises to build on this success.
Impact of Irish Universities on Innovation, Enterprise and Knowledge Transfer
The impact of university R&D on innovation in Irish enterprise is very substantial. This encompasses patents, research agreements and collaborations with enterprise, licences, options and assignments, invention disclosures, spin-outs and incubator companies.
For example, in 2018 across the HEIs there were:
- 1,824 live research collaboration agreements with industry
- 487 new invention disclosures
- 119 spin-outs thriving three years post-incorporation
- 33 new products and services launched
Additionally, higher education research supports Irish based companies with 80% of collaboration agreements signed between a research performing organization and a company based in Ireland. Furthermore, 95% of collaboration agreements with the SME sector were with Irish SMEs.
Through its university graduates, Ireland’s educated workforce has been widely cited as a key reason for Ireland’s success in continuing to attract foreign direct investment and in supporting indigenous enterprises. In the 2018 IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook, Ireland was ranked 9th in the world in terms of the ability of university education to meet the needs of a competitive economy.
University Research impacts positively on the economy and on society as demonstrated by the case studies from our seven university members below: