Minister Sherlock puts innovation centre stage in Brussels

Boosting the research and innovation capacity of Irish business, especially those in the SME sector, will be central to job creation and economic growth according to Minister for Research and Innovation, Seán Sherlock TD.

The Minister was today (Monday) chairing the first meeting of the Competitiveness Council during Ireland’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

At the meeting, Europe’s Ministers for Research and Innovation debated a number of important areas designed to increase innovation within the EU. Among these were discussions about how best to facilitate economic growth in Europe through improved support for research – the Horizon 2020 programme is the EU’s programme for promoting innovation. Ministers also deliberated on the best way of facilitating better access for researchers to scientific information with the European Research Area.

During the meeting Ministers for Science and Research from other Member States were given a presentation on the important role of Smart Specialisation in improving research and innovation outputs by Prof. Mark Ferguson, Director General, Science Foundation Ireland. He discussed Ireland’s strategic decision to prioritise research in a focused number of areas.

Minister Seán Sherlock commented: “Research and innovation are of major importance nationally and at the European level given their potential contribution to job creation and economic recovery.”

“The Irish Presidency is prioritising achieving political agreement on the Horizon 2020 package. This is because we need to focus on how we can increase the innovation capacity of Europe’s SMEs to create jobs from research activity.”

“In our discussions on the 2013 Annual Growth Survey, we focussed on how research budgets can contribute to fuelling European growth and stabilising the economic and financial situation. As far as research and innovation performance are concerned, enhanced economic policy co-ordination at the European level has a crucial role to play. It will have an important role in job creation.”

“I want to thank my fellow Research Ministers for the very productive debate. I also hope the presentation by Science Foundation Ireland on Smart Specialisation provided some valuable food for thought on how best to manage research and innovation.”