Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Science James Lawless TD has introduced new legislation in the Dáil aimed at strengthening Ireland’s research and innovation sectors.

Deputy Lawless introduced the ‘Industrial Development (Science Foundation Ireland) (Amendment) Bill 2018’ in the Dáil earlier this week.

The Bill seeks to alter the functions of Science Foundation Ireland to ensure a balance is struck between promoting, developing and assisting both discovery initiatives and applied research.

Deputy Lawless said, “Fianna Fáil established Science Foundation Ireland in 2003 with the aim of supporting the research and development sector. The agency has made a significant contribution to transforming the research landscape. It has placed us on the global stake and has laid the foundation for significant foreign direct investment in Ireland.

“Science Foundation Ireland has traditionally focused on supporting both discovery initiatives and applied research. Discovery initiatives are those which lay the basis for future scientific discoveries, while applied research involves putting scientific discoveries into practice in an industrial environment. Both are of importance, and one cannot be done without the other.

“In 2013 the then Fine Gael – Labour Government took the decision to re-orientate the focus of Science Foundation Ireland in favour of applied research. This has had a significant negative impact on the overall science and research sector in Ireland. It has led to a brain drain of talent amongst those involved in discovery initiatives. This is only serving to damage Ireland’s long term interests.

“The Bill I have introduced seeks to rebalance the focus of Science Foundation Ireland to ensure it returns to its original intended mission. It will reconfigure the board of the agency by introducing a quota for academics to achieve a balance between those focused on discovery initiatives and the industrialists who are focused primarily on applied initiatives.

“The Bill also seeks to undertake a wider review of the research sector to identify what steps need to be taken to strengthen it in the years ahead. The Bill I have introduced contains common sense and reasonable proposals and I look forward to working with all parties in the Dáil to progress the legislation in the months ahead.”