First plenary session at EUNIS is from Patrick Cunningham, Chief Scientific Advisor to the Irish Government, and is about Investing in the Knowledge Economy.
Ireland has a statement of policy that it will by 2013 be internationally renowned for the excellence of its research and will be to the forefront in generating and using new knowledge for economic and social progress, ie investment is part of economic and social policy. Up to 2007 invested in
Institutes of Technology across the country offering range of courses, including degree and PhD. Also large investment in R and D. But, then in 2008, recession hit. Rate of growth dropped, and public investment in R and D decreased.
Public investment in science and technology has to have outputs. Has to be new knowledge. Look to published literature for evidence first of quantity, and then citations for quality. Both are still increasing in Ireland. Also benchmarked their Universities against similar UK and European ones, TCD and UCD both doing well.
Benefits of R and D investment by private and public sector include new patents, improved processes, products and services, leading to benefit to society in terms of employment, health and quality of life. Goal is economic and social. Wealth creation is important. Natural wealth, created wealth and intellectual capital all contribute to a nation's wealth. In Ireland, natural wealth is 3%, produced is 14%, human and social wealth is 83%.
What should be goals for investment in society? GDP is one measure of how successful a country is. Can also use human development index which uses health and education measures, is a strong correlation with GDP. Satisfaction with life index, still a high correlation with GDP. But, don't just need R and D investment to improve quality of life, are social and political factors as well.
Innovation scoreboard ( a combination of many metrics) for EU shows leading group to be Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Finland. UK and Ireland in next group ( the followers).
Challenges in getting into leading group include monitoring delivery against correct indicators, effective linkages to business sectors, and keeping on track in investment terms with leading countries.
Interesting tweet during the talk " Unis add £1.31 billion a year in value to UK society Reminder why Govts should invest "
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