Several revisions and updates to themes and priority areas to reflect developments since 2012
The Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys TD, and Minister of State for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development, John Halligan TD, welcomed the publication of the report ‘Research Priority Areas 2018 – 2023’.
Research Prioritisation, introduced by the Government in 2012, aligns the majority of competitively awarded public investment in research with 14 priority areas. Innovation 2020, Ireland’s strategy for research and development, science and technology, commits to reviewing the priority areas to ensure that they are still valid and to refresh and revise them, if necessary, in the light of changed circumstances since 2012.
Welcoming the Research Priority Areas Report, Minister Humphreys said: “I am delighted to announce this report. The challenge for small open economies like Ireland is to remain agile and responsive. Enhancing the innovative capacity of Irish based firms along with their ability to diversify into new markets has become all the more critical. With the recommendations in this report, the objectives of Research Prioritisation remain relevant and valid - to create research activities of critical mass in areas of importance to Ireland; to efficiently extract maximum value from our national research investment; and to take research to market faster than in other jurisdictions.”
Minister Halligan said, “As technology continues to develop at an ever-increasing pace, bringing radical changes throughout almost every industry, it is essential that we continue to drive this important agenda - keeping innovation centre stage to drive a strong sustainable economy and a better society.”
A rigorous exercise including extensive consultation was undertaken to develop the evidence base to inform the refresh exercise. While the evidence demonstrated that for many of the priority areas, the focus remains as relevant in 2018 as it was for the 2012 -2017 cycle, there have been several revisions and updates to both the themes and the priority areas to reflect changing circumstances in that period.
The ICT priority areas have been broadened to reflect the changes in technology since 2012 and now include Robotics, Artificial Intelligence (including Machine Learning), Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality.
With the focus on preventive health measures and the increasing emphasis on well-being, which is evident across all the health-related priority areas, the Health theme has been has evolved to reflect these drivers and is renamed Health and Well-being.
The Sustainable Food Production and Processing priority area is broadened to reflect the evolution in technology since 2012 and the key emerging priorities in the EU initiative Food 2030, particularly the need for climate smart and environmentally sustainable food systems and the need for circularity and resources efficiency of food systems and is renamed Smart and Sustainable Food Production and Processing.
The most significant changes have been to the Energy theme. Based on developments since 2012, including the increased urgency to address climate change and sustainability challenges, alongside the increased opportunities for enterprise within this wider context, the Research Priority theme has evolved to reflect these drivers and is renamed Energy, Climate Action and Sustainability, and the two priority areas have been updated to Decarbonising the Energy System; and Sustainable Living.
To reflect the impact of technological change and the digitisation of manufacturing since 2012, the Manufacturing Competitiveness priority area is renamed Advanced and Smart Manufacturing (which will also include Processing Technologies) and Processing Technologies and Novel Materials is renamed Manufacturing and Novel Materials, acknowledging that Novel Materials underpin and enable other priority areas, presenting particular challenges for the manufacturing sector.
The services sector in Ireland is a major part of Ireland’s economy and is increasingly participating in innovative activities and the Innovation in Services and Business Processes research priority remains unchanged.
Implementation of the report ‘Research Priority Areas 2018 to 2023’ will be driven through the Innovation 2020 Implementation Group, which comprises the Chief Scientific Advisor, the heads of research for each of the research funding Departments and Agencies, and is chaired by the Assistant Secretary of the Innovation and Investment Division of the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation.