Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Jobs, Innovation, and Enterprise, Niall Collins has said that the future health of the Irish economy is being put at risk by the failure of Minister Mitchell O’Connor to adequately fund 3rd level research.

Deputy Collins was commenting after it became clear that the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation has only budgeted to provide €14.4 million to Irish universities and Institutes of Technology (IoTs) under the Programme for Research in 3rd Level Institutions.

“In 2016, the total funding under this programme amounted to €30.4 million which represents a 52% cut year on year.
“Contrast this funding support to the €57.9 million provided for by Fianna Fáil when last in Government.

“The PRTLI is the cornerstone of Irish Research and Innovation at third level institutions and spin-offs attached to Universities and Iots.

“Minister Mitchell O’Connor’s decision to move from a five year funding model to yearly funding has severely reduced the ability of 3rd level researchers plan for the future, and entire would-be researchers to locate in Ireland.

“Researchers working in our 3rd level institutions are crying out for funding to allow them continue their ground breaking research that in many cases leads to many spin off enterprises that generate significant economic output for the country.

“The failure to budget appropriately for 2017 in light of opportunities arising from Brexit underlines the Minister’s relaxed approach to her portfolio.

“Underfunding of 3rd level research will only further erode Ireland’s competitiveness. Ireland’s fall in the 2017 Bloomberg Innovation Index international rankings is proof that it’s happening already.

“There are hundreds of researchers based in the UK who are actively looking for new academic homes. If we don’t provide the funding, they will look elsewhere in the EU.

“While there are other important reasons to engage in academic research, ensuring that Ireland retains its competitive edge in terms of research and innovation, is critically important to Ireland’s continued economic prosperity.
“The Minister must realise that investing in Ireland’s economic future requires funding decisions to be made today. She needs to fight for additional resources around the Cabinet table,” concluded Collins.