Is Ireland Really an Innovation Island?

The agency responsible for foreign direct investment onto this island, IDA Ireland, has recently launched a new marketing campaign in North America. This campaign is pitching Ireland as an innovation island. The New York Times discussed the campaign in detail so head over there for more information if you are interested. My question here is whether Ireland can stand up to the mark on the claims that it is an island full of innovators.

What is innovation? It is a process that involves lateral or creative thinking to come up with new solutions to problems. It occurs most in response to a real need. Successful innovations have been those that people find really useful in addressing a particular situation or issue.

Can Ireland, with a population less than half of that of New York City, really be good at innovation on a global scale?

Ireland already does have some notable innovations that it can be proud of.

Ryanair is an example of process innovation that turned a miniscule struggling Irish airline into one of the largest airlines in the world in just over a decade. Sure, we looked at what was best elsewhere (SouthWest Airlines) but made it our own and added our own dynamics to it.

Guinness emerged in the 1770’s from a small ale brewery in Dublin that needed to compete against the big London breweries that were exporting a new form of drink, popular with Covent Garden’s market porters, into Ireland. Arthur Guinness took this new “porter” and brewed a version of it that within the first 100 years saw the biggest brewery in the world based in Dublin. And no, we weren’t drinking it all ourselves.

Riverdance revolutionised how the world reacted to traditional Irish music. By innovatively taking pre-recorded music and raising a traditional village pub performance to the level of rock concert, Riverdance has transformed a dance genre from being at death’s door to a worldwide phenomenon. Spin-offs aside, such as Lord of the Dance, Riverdance itself has grossed in excess of $1 billion since 1994.

Havok is an Irish software company that started as a campus company in Trinity College computer science department. (One of the founders taught a course I took as a post-grad.) The Havok founders identified a need to improve the quality of graphics rendering in computer games and came up with a revolutionary application that renders the graphics in run-time, thus speeding up and improving the quality of the rendering. Havok software is being used in PC, Xbox 360, Playstation and many other games formats. Havok-powered games generated sales revenue totaling over $1.5 billion in North America alone during 2008.

The IFSC, or the International Financial Services Centre, based in Dublin’s previously depressed docklands was set up under government legislation in 1987 to address Ireland’s real need to lift itself out of the economic troubles of the 1980’s. A low corporate tax rate of 10% was introduced to attract international financial firms into the IFSC.  Half of the world’s top banks and insurance companies soon located operation in Ireland, bringing employment, urban regeneration and billions in additional tax revenues.

The model employed in the IFSC has been expanded with much success in other sectors. Nine of the top ten pharmaceutical companies in the world have located R&D and manufacturing plants here. For years Ireland has been the biggest exporter worldwide of computer software, mostly as a result of Microsoft locating its European headquarters here. We now host worldwide technology giants such as Intel, Dell, Google, eBay, Facebook, HP, SAP, Siemens, EMC, Cisco and Paypal. The clustering of such industries on this small island has resulted in the development in Ireland of a skilled workforce that is disproportionately clever.

Investment in R&D, the official word for innovation, is important to us in Ireland and in 2008 1.66% of GDP (€2.8 billion) was spent on it. Our target is to grow this to 3% of GDP. IDA Ireland has shifted its focus over the past number of years to R&D type activities rather than pure manufacturing. Last year 40% of IDA investments were in companies doing R&D here, a figure that has doubled over the past five years.

There are a few things that Ireland lacks, but innovation and ambition is not one of them. I’ve written here previously that we need to do more. We already have the smarts but they need to be fostered and supported so that we can continue to punch above our weight on the global stage.

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27 thoughts on “Is Ireland Really an Innovation Island?

  1. You make some good points – Ireland is a small country and has done well over the years.

    However I do feel much more could be done. We tend to want to look to the outside world for jobs instead of helping internal upstarts but this appears to be changing.

    We need to look at what we import and then see if this could be done internally and then see if this would lead to exports.

    There are lots of clever people around but sometimes they need lead by the nose.

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  2. Thank you for the provocative question.

    I think Ireland can be an innovation hub on a global scale. The size of the country does not inhibit the scale when it comes to innovation. Its about quality and not so much quantity.

    Indeed the innovation can come from the business model itself (i.e. making it scale) as Ryanair showed.

    What remains for Ireland though if our best minds enter large global companies and develop their innovations in these companies? “Merely” employment?

    Might we not encourage more entrepreneurship. Even create an innovation system such as Finland has done. Give much more support to young indigenous companies?

    What we do not need is another business model for Ireland that can be copied at a cheaper price. Emerging economies (from East Europe, BRIC countries) will also try to stake their claim to having an innovate population. What is stopping companies lured here by the IDA on the innovation claim move on? Of course its not that easily copied as in Manufacturing but still not impossible.

    We need to get the mix of homegrown and large multinationals right.

    Just a thought.

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  3. More thoughts.

    We have some large multinational companies and one way of creating jobs would be to get more local suppliers. This works very well for the defence industry in England.

    How would we do this? I guess the large companies should be encouraged to have open days where they show the things and services that they buy in and then any local supplier who could do it would be given help (aid) to setup. Hopefully they would also be able to sell whatever the products or services are elsewhere. The knock-on effect would be that they in turn would need supplies/services.

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  4. I support Michael’s comments and would support the establishment of more indigenous companies. Consider that all of the wind towers that have been built in Ireland in recent times could have been (and should have been via Government incentives???) manufactured here in Ireland. We shouldn’t also forget that we are a nation of 4M people but what is the size of the Irish race – wanting to avoid any paddywackery what can be harnessed by networking through the world wide Irish community? I’ve blogged in the past that one of the issues I see is how to network for innovation in Ireland. I think the IT sector has this off to a tee but in other areas such as traditional manufacturing it appears we have taken this outside and shot it like the Celtic Tiger. I hear people talk about the cost of manufacturing in Ireland but this is a myth depending on the type of manufacturing and the level of automation that it involves. I’d like to see a network established for experienced people in senior positions in Ireland who do want to break away and create something unique but who lack the self belief to take on the risk by themselves.

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  5. Sorry for posting again but I loved the line above…..

    “I’d like to see a network established for experienced people in senior positions in Ireland who do want to break away and create something unique but who lack the self belief to take on the risk by themselves.”

    Very well put. I think there are many good people who just lack the confidence. Many are tied into huge mortgages but if given some sort of safety net then many of them could do great things.

    Good post.

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  6. Enjoying the discussion here guys. It strikes me reading the various comments that perhaps there is more that we can expect from the multinationals who locate here. Sure they bring tax revenues, employment, new business for local suppliers and increase the knowledge pool.

    Some might say we should be happy enough with all of that. However as we saw recently when Dell withdrew much of its manufacturing from Limerick, many of the benefits immediately disappeared also. In addition to the Dell job losses, a number of the businesses which had been supplying Dell simply shut down or relocated with them to Eastern Europe.

    But perhaps this model of FDI is flawed in so much as it is not really building for the longer term. Part of the deal with these multinationals is that they should actively engage with local businesses, not simply to get them to produce generic widgets as cheaply as possible, but to help them to develop innovations and business models that with outlast their presence in Ireland or that help them to grow their own new international markets.

    Take Facebook which is actively engaging with the developer community in Ireland. Irish developers will benefit from this, learning to develop Facebook applications and services. However, if in five or ten years, Facebook departs from these shores, these Irish development businesses need to have strong business plans that are not dependant on a single major multinational. Wouldn’t it be great if an organisation such as Facebook left behind a legacy of innovation and business acumen with their “partner” companies here in Ireland.

    These large multinationals have much to offer Ireland while they are here and this should not be taken for granted. But as the IDA are investing in them, in their R&D and in helping them to build a platform for accessing the European and Asian markets, perhaps the quit pro quo should now take a different format – one that sees a longer term benefit for Ireland.

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  7. Brendan your comments are appropriate. I also see another possible angle; one could not default the multi-nationals for providing an excellent training and development programs for their employees. The question is how do you migrate well experienced (not just well educated) staff from the security of a monthly salary (from those MNs who haven’t left the country) into a high potential indigenous start-up? I think Michael’s point is valid, by nature we have proven to be an industrious race and a dip test across global industry indicates that we are not short of business acumen. When you look at the demographics however most of the potential candidates have a family to support and there is a genuine fear of failure. I’m struggling to define how this issue could be addressed. I’m following the daily thread from the Silicon Republic and I do honestly believe, with all due credit, that our indigenous IT sector is thriving so my focus is more on the manufacturing side – the important export market! We will not benefit from a recovery unless we have products to export; the internal market in Ireland alone is of insufficient size to support a manufacturing enterprise. To throw some ideas out there what about the following:

    a.) Why did the Irish government do a deal with Nissan/Renault for electric vehicles with out
    demanding that a CDK (Kit of parts assembly) factory is opened here. This is the same
    model that is used in Russia, South Africa, China, etc.. You scale production to demand
    but at least there is local content and employment requirements.

    b.) The government has similarly done a deal with “a better life” to create an electric
    recharging infrastructure in Ireland. Why was it not demanded that a JV had to be set up
    between the ESB (or another indigenous energy provider) and A Better Life? This is by the
    way one of the main components of how US/European companies have expanded into
    Chinese and Korean markets. Governments of these countries have only registered JVs
    between foreign and local entities. I’m not a great fan of government involvement in the
    macro economy but it does incentivise an MN to stay and create local employment.

    c.) I mentioned previously the issue of wind turbine manufacture. Why the hell are we
    importing these into the country from Spain, Germany and Denmark. Taking Spain as an
    economic benchmark and Denmark as a population benchmark couldn’t we have built
    them ourselves? We used to build ships in this country were the skills not transferable? I
    hope I don’t have my sums wrong but I believe we are talking about 225 turbines at any
    where between 1.5 to 3M a piece?. If someone argues that the raw materials would still
    need to be imported I agree but we would at least have had some local labour content.
    And god forbid that some clever guy learned to do something new and clever and set up an
    indigenous Irish wind turbine company. Hats off again to the IT sector where there are
    several Irish suppliers exporting software to support this industry.

    d.) Why has Wavebob had to do a deal with a Swedish company and give up 40% of the
    company. Would the 4B given to Anglo Irish Bank not have been better invested so that
    we could build our own wave generating equipment and install it on our seabed without
    having to rely on foreign investment?

    e.) We have Solarprint one of the most advanced solar cell process companies in the world
    but where is the government incentive such as the 1000 Daecher project in Germany
    incentivising the fitment of solar panels on all domestic dwellings. Has someone in
    Government calculated the cost of supporting such a venture versus importation of fossil
    fuels?

    I digress with the above but I wanted to illustrate some of the areas where I believe we have failed to harness the true potential for Ireland. I believe sometimes our Government are afraid that if they make some of the above demands that the MNs will simply decide not to supply. The beauty of that scenario is that it instantly creates a market opportunity.

    Back to my original post I believe what I am looking for is some kind of formal networking environment where individuals with an interest in creating Irish indigenous industry can get together. The gatherings must be formal so that there are inputs and outcomes generated from the meetings – the EI is probably the most suitable provider. I give you the example that my background is in product line management/business development but I have experience of product design, medical technology and the automotive industry. If I was to meet a doctor, a software engineer and a chemical engineer is it possible that all four disciplines could define a scope for a product, create a business plan and ultimately with the support of each other take a leap of faith and start a company. I think it could be possible.

    What stops that me, at the moment, by way of an example is that I am studying for an MBA (I decided this could help in terms of starting a company in the future), I frequently travel abroad on business and I have a young family. What I therefore need is perhaps a two to three hour session once a month to meet like minded people with whom I can generate ideas.
    I’m actually thinking that you go straight to a business model where you are defining actual products as opposed to discussing how to create industry (there are enough people trying to figure this out for far too long). The formal structure would be necessary to ensure that people respect the values and input of others and that any potential IP generated is protected. Ultimately I believe groups would find ideas that would mean they could splinter off from the main group and would then enter a more directed relationship with the EI or a BIC. The original two to three hour time investment would need to increase but the corresponding commitment to make the idea a success would probably facilitate people making the additional effort. Again a set of terms would need to be defined to ensure commitment and time are provided in equal measure. This is just one concept of how this could work?

    I’ll stop there and wait for comments. I’m damned sorry about the length of the post but I wanted to try and define where I am coming from.

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  8. Sorry one other thought that occurred. One question is how do you find all these people who are supposed to network and generate ideas? Well one of the ideas is to obviously harness the web and find all the different forums/blogger sites where people are discussing exactly the same points that have been raised here. You use the forums to network to these people and let them know about networking events. Again just an idea I am throwing out there. I do remember that EI had a poster campaign placed with the MNs encouraging people with start-up interest to attend workshops. With no discredit to the EI I found that every time an event was planned it was either in Dublin or I was bloody travelling somewhere!!

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  9. Just some thoughts on JohnEric’s idea of creating a network – which I think has very good potential.

    I have been involved in setting up and managing such a group recently in Finland. So if it helps here are some things to take into account beforehand based on my experience:

    – The group is a success or failure depending on the type/quality of person involved. You asked correctly “how do you find the people”. I would adjust a little and add “how to you find the right people”

    – Just putting people in a room together might not be enough to generate ideas or create collaboration. There are some “innovation processes” out there which might stimulate the necessary discussions at least at the start so the ideas can be generated and more importantly participants can get to know each other.

    – Ability to make idea’s happen: At some point and time the idea phase is over and somebody needs to take the lead (e.g. a Project Management or Integrator role) at least to test the idea for the group. Otherwise nothing happens. This roles requires time & money = risk for the person who takes it. The lead taker should come from the participants and not a government agency

    – IP is a key issue that you also mentioned. Structure needs to be in place beforehand, even legal documents such NDA’s etc. Does your existing company have any claim to something that might be created?

    – You mentioned that there might be spin-offs from the main group which I think is exactly the way to go. This can actually solve many of the above problems: trust is built much quicker, the group is managed much easier and you can test idea much quicker.

    -Participants need to understand that not all risks can be eliminated. A some point you have to just take a leap of faith…or not

    Managing a “formal” network like this, involves a lot of time and effort and the questions remains who has the time and resources to do this. Here you come back perhaps to some government agency as you suggest (which is also neutral) which does not always provide the necessary credibility in some peoples eyes.

    – The larger group can still provide value in sharing experiences and also certain “brand building” for the participants, their industry and the Irish location. Here the government agency can take a larger role and some of the workload off the network.

    Some of the points are obvious of course but still challenging to solve.

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  10. Good point guys.

    I smiled at Johneric’s comments about Electric Cars as I was interested in that myself (I’d like to see a Tesla competitor in Ireland). Yes I agree that the government should be funding local businesses to do the infrastructure and to design the vehicles rather than put money into the “safer” MNs.

    I’ve a few more ideas for startups BUT the thing that stops me is that I am afraid to take the risk and loose my income for a significant length of time. Ultimate failure doesn’t worry me…..it’s the period of no return and getting through that. Some businesses (especially manufacturing) need significant money to start.

    How can we overcome this……

    Well we could run evening classes where people are put together from different disciplines to take an idea up to a suitable point. If we consider say, a manufacturing idea, that would mean doing the design and making prototypes until there is a product that could be demonstrated. Marketing plans and business plans would also need to be produced. The disciplines involved would be engineering, design, marketing, etc. Local Universities would also participate.

    So the project would be free (people’s time) but money would be made available to make prototypes etc. It would then be demonstrated to a board of people who would decide if full funding would be suitable. At that stage the people involved would have to decide to give up their full-time jobs but at least they would have short-term security.

    I’m ready to give up several nights per week so let’s get started.

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  11. Hi Michael let’s keep the conversation going but do you have some method where I can PM you?
    I think I share your thought process and I believe there could be the seeds of an on-line incubation center here. As mentioned by mainland there are some protective measures that would need to be taken. I have adequate contacts with various educational facilities from which we can source various skill sets as necessary. My own background is product design and ergonomics, followed by a spell in project management, which lead to business development and then finally product line management (i.e full P&L responsibility for a business unit). I have no industrial involvement with Ireland and its simply my base – I do want to change this though hence my interest in indigenous start-ups. I think if we can gather sufficient people with the right mind set that something that can be commercialized can be evolved. An on-line incubation process would allow some exchange and contact prior to developing into later stages where more time and financial commitment may be required. I also have some links to investors but all in good time.

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  12. There are some really concrete ideas there about how to build innovation networks. If IDA Ireland is looking to develop Ireland’s reputation as an innovation island then this is surely something very practical they could demonstrate. It probably falls more naturally into the remit of EI but unfortunately EI have some fairly tough minimum criteria before they will engage with you.

    There is a whole bunch of people out there that are in all your boats – have lots of great ideas but are struggling with the financial practicalities of going for it. Some would suggest that only the real risk-takers have what it takes to make it running their own business; but there is a whole lot of us, myself included, who would love the opportunity to bring new ideas to market, but the practicalities of mortgages and families, just mean that it won’t happen.

    There is a real wealth here that could be tapped into by start-up enterprises. For example, I’d be happy to work for nothing outside of nine-to-five, investing my time into an innovative business where I could make an impact. In return, perhaps a small level of equity which could be worth something interesting when the business is successful. There are probably many more people out there, especially recently retired professionals with a wealth of business experience, who would be excited about the opportunity to engage with start-up enterprises in such low-risk ways. Unfortunately there are no structures in place to tap into this pool of resources.

    It sounds like there are some real synergies between Michael, JohnEric and Mainland Europe and that you might want to hook up. If you are happy to, I will undertake to share your email addresses with each other, as you left them here when you posted. But I will only do this with your permission.

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  13. Hi Brendan, I have no problem with you sharing my e-mail address.

    I’m disappointed that more people didn’t come on line to comment. As I posted earlier the big question is how to a.) reach out to those individuals and b.) how to attract the right type of participant.

    I’ve discussed with Michael the notion of a secure on-line incubation forum that would allow people to post and discuss potential ideas. This forum would really need to be operated by a body such as EI or IDA so that the necessary mechanisms related to IP, NDAs and eventually the development phase could be facilitated through a neutral entity.

    The forum should somehow restrict involvement by the requirement to sign a charter and NDA – anyone who seeks advantage outside of the group could then be pursued in court. I don’t know how else one could protect the valuable contributions and commitment that genuine members would make. I’ve been burned in the past by the disingenuous people who are only interested in lining their own pockets and have less interest in the greater good or community.

    I am sure within the digital community in Ireland that such an on-line incubation forum or website could be created. I believe on-line is the way to go because it supports the geographic issue and business travel commitments of the type of people I would envisage would join such a forum. Perhaps Trevor Holmes, IDA, who has taken an active interest supporting innovation would pick up this mandate? Sorry for calling you out on this Trevor but you’ve been a key poster on the Innovation Ireland forum.

    Brendan I am also with you regarding the notion of assisting SMEs with additional expertise. My experience has been however that companies are wary of outside involvement and as a nation we tend to pigeonhole people skills into specific industries. I’d love the opportunity to work with a company and agree to accept a small % of any gains achieved in the first year after involvement and for any subsequent years of involvement. I think this could be a fair method of renumeration.

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  14. Great posts. My initial interest grew once you mentioned the need for a formalised network within which people could collaborate with a view to developing innovative products.

    I am involved in facilitating a newly-established network for creative industries in Dublin, called CreativeD. It is the first time that a network has been established specifically for the creative sector in Ireland, and the over-arching aim of the network is to ensure that Dublin’s wealth of creative thought is harnessed to deliver innovative products and services.

    We are looking for members of the network to come together to explore the potential for developing new projects, or even new businesses. This is facilitated by innovation coaches, who have been trained in the application of innovation processes to foster incubatory ideas (a key element, as pointed out by Mainland Europe above) and has received European funding via the Interreg IV tranche of funding (again, a level of funding is important in successfully delivering a network, and Europe seems to be the best route for funding applications at the moment).

    As well as looking to deliver innovative joint projects from the network, which will run for 2 years, we will be looking to see how the needs of the creative sector can best be met, particularly in the areas of funding, public procurement, education, R & D and interaction with other sectors.

    CreativeD might provide you with a useful benchmark in terms of establishing a network to generate innovative offerings. If you want more details on it you can visit http://www.creatived.ie

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  15. This is an interesting article with several interesting comments.

    As someone working in the High-Tech sector it strikes me that only one (Havok) of the five high profile innovations you mention is essentially a technology innovation. The other companies you mention probably use technology to support their mission, but their innovation is not a technological one.

    Riverdance did not invent Irish dancing, they just created a show on a much bigger scale than had been attempted before

    Many times Guinness claim to have invented Porter, but it is clear from the historical evidence that they were not the first brewers of Porter/Stout. Their real innovation is in the way their marketing team managed to dominate the market and create positive associations for their brand. I know of several incidents where medical doctors “prescribed” Guinness for various conditions – clearly an example of a marketing slogan “Guinness is good for you” being trusted despite the lack of hard evidence for their claim/

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  16. This is an interesting debate but what has struck me more than anything is the suggestion that its indigineous rather than MNC that hold the key to future success.

    As I’ve posted many times before on other forums it is a balance of both.We are a smll open economy and have benefuted greatly from MNCs establishing here in terms of management training, new tecnologies, leading operational practices and the development of our talent-pool.

    Last year MNC companies were responsible for 60% of national exports (€92bn); 50% Corporate Tax take; 150k+ direct jobs and a spend in excess of €16bn in the Irish economy Oh andthey invested a further €2bn also. Lets drop the what have foreign companies done for us

    The comments about Havok are spot on, we need to lose the national sigh when a leading international brand like Intel buys an Irish indigeneous company thats success and tru entrepreneurs will take the money and re-invest.

    The future success of Ireland depends on creating value added linkages between MNCs and Irish companies with leading technologies the facebook reference is spot on.

    That idea of online incubation I will see if I can get traction from some other interested parties.

    I was really struck by comment by Sean Bolger when he launched Imagine WIMAX last week – he said he didn’t want help from state agencies like IDA or EI he was an entrepreneur and would create businesses for himself bringing together leading MNCs if needed – It struck a cord about the definition of a true entrepreneur

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  17. My email address is fine to share. For reference I work with start-ups/small to medium sized companies in the area of Software & Digital Media. I am based in Germany and work between there UK and Finland. So in that context my background may or may not be relevant to further “offline” discussions. I will leave that up to others to decide.

    I agree with Brians comment that the innovation can be in the marketing or indeed as I said above in the “business model”. Compare the recent fortunes of Nokia and Apple when it comes to Smartphones and related services. Nokia have their version of iTunes, called Ovi (which means Door in Finnish) but I guess many have not even hear of it! Apples execution (design and marketing) have been much better.

    Somebody mentioned also earlier about starting from the creation of a product rather an industry. It might even be good to bring the business model thinking in right at this stage also; perhaps even start at the customer rather than the product.

    Personally I took from the comments that MNCs were a positive feature of Irelands economy and I would not question their benefit but there is no harm in having ambitions to have homegrown success stories also. There are examples of economies of a similar size to Ireland with a larger portion of SMEs that are sustainable economies also.

    I would also not dismiss EI and IDA to quickly (although I did point out in a previous comment that the positioning with them might not appeal to everybody). Not every start-up will have the benefit of an investor like Intel who can afford to “create the market” as they want/must with Wimax i.e. see also $900m investment in (Sprint)Nextel.

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  18. >I would also not dismiss EI and IDA to quickly
    The success of these agencies (IDA in particular) is envied by many other countries. Everywhere in the world I see examples of people quoting them as examples which should be replicated by wherever country/region they are discussing.

    While I don’t deny that EI in particular has a lot of room for improvement, we should not forget to be proud of them and their achievements.

    Perhaps the proposed merger of the two agencies can enable the undoubtedly excellent talent in IDA applied to the EI mission.

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  19. Trevor I agree with your suggestion that we require a balance of MNs and indigenous industry. I currently benefit from working with for an MN though as previously posted Ireland is just my home base and my work is globally focused. The question is what do you perceive the balance to be in the future?

    My specific interest is in product based SME potential (as opposed to services or digital ventures). In the product case I think we have to be realistic and understand that few MNs are likely to be attracted under the current economic and regulatory environment. If you are looking for growth in this sector I believe SMEs will offer a catalyst to regenerate some degree of manufacturing in Ireland.

    I am reminded of the subject matter covered by Charles Handy in his book; “The Flea and the Elephant” where he indicates that the days of stable and permanent employment in large MNs is a dying cause and the need for employees to consider their independence and be flexible. His theories support the Havoc development of the “flea” supporting the “elephant” (not meant to be disparaging to Havoc by describing them as fleas by this is the example used in Handy’s book).

    I also fully support the need for EI and IDA involvement. In the on-line incubation network concept I have touted here I have constantly identified the need for an independent arbitrator who can create the legal, IP and support infrastructure. There would be no point for an incubation network if some of the outcomes could not be commercialized with the assistance of the EI or IDA. Has this not been one of the problems of third level research in Ireland?

    Brian technological innovation is only one of many potential requirements for any SME. I also work in the high tech sector and innovation don’t necessarily need to come from within the company. There are a wealth of accessible patents, licencees, third level research and inventive people from which technological innovation may be sourced. I work in the area of business development and one of the key factors is how we differentiate ourselves from the competition. I work in a highly competitive market where we are an independent minnow compared to our competitors and yet we have won business from our competitors.

    In conclusion I would like to suggest that the future success of Ireland is the continued support for MN investment but also the belief that we can derive more export % from indigenous Irish industry.

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  20. Thanks again to everyone for leaving comments on this post. It has been a very interesting discussion and there are some solid ideas in there.

    I’m going to take some time (when I get a chance) to pull together what I think might be a way forward and put it out there to see what kind of interest there is.

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  21. I picked up on this discussion and think that there is some correlation between what is being discussed here and the concept that for the first time in a recession Ireland does not have to physically export its talent but can tap into the rest of the world with a good internet connection. There should be much more focus on nurturing indigenous talent which will grow and outlast the MNC’s located here for tax reasons. I would certainly be interested in joining a group such as discussed above so please pass on my contact details.

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