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Ireland and Innovation

So where does Ireland sit in the innovation tables at least from a European perspective? One way of looking at it (and all systems have flaws) is the European Union’s EU Innovation Scoreboard, last published for 2009.

Here it is shown that Ireland is in the group of Innovation followers. Our  innovation performance is above the EU27 average, while It’s rate of improvement just below that of the EU27.

In terms of our relative strengths, compared to the country’s average performance, then these unsurprisingly are situated in Human resources and Economic effects. Our relative weaknesses are in Firm investments and Throughputs.

As the site quotes “Over the past 5 years, Human resources and Finance and support have been the main drivers of the improvement in innovation performance, in particular as a result from strong growth in Lifelong learning (13.7%), Private credit (12.7%) and Broadband access by firms (26.9%). Performance in Firm investments, Linkages & entrepreneurship, Throughputs and Innovators has worsened, in particular due to a decrease in Non-R&D innovation expenditures (-5.7%), Innovative SMEs collaborating with others (-7.0%), Community designs (-7.2%) and SMEs introducing product or process innovations (-3.3%).”

What is interesting here is that one of our major weaknesses is the small and medium-sized companies. At a time when making payroll at the end of the month because of credit lines getting tight is the critical objective for many, it is not unusual that innovation (future growth potential) is suffering in recent years. Our SME’s also need to work closer together, and some of Enterprise Ireland’s recent developments show where this is heading, but we need more.

The SME sector is the future for innovation and growth, both in terms of employment and also in terms of wealth creation. We need to do some serious change to allow this flow to start again.

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