Science Council focuses on actions for sustainability of research centres
The Advisory Council on Science, Technology and Innovation (ACSTI) made a series of recommendations on how best to support research centres in Ireland with a view to optimising future potential social and economic returns from State investments in research, development and Innovation (RD&I).
The report, entitled, Sustainability of Research Centres, looks at the makeup and oversight of the research centre landscape in Ireland and the appropriate models for funding those research centres that have received/are receiving a stream of funding from a Government department or agency.
Key Findings and recommendations include:
- Stakeholders should recognise that the current set of State-supported centres fall into one of four groups: Academic Centres, Academic-Industry Centres, Industry Focused Centres, Mission & Sector focused centres.
- Emphasis on the balance of academic and commercial outputs expected from different centres must be made clear.
- A common set of indicators should be developed for the centres which should t clearly indicate the balance between academic and commercial metrics should be set for each centre.
- Adequate funding for centres is needed to achieve an appropriate level of scale and the appropriate set of skills to maximise its opportunities for delivering on its research objectives. Given the current fiscal situation in Ireland it is considered that the best potential returns on the State investment in research centres will come from appropriately funding a smaller number of centres, rather than spreading the constrained funding budgets too thinly.
- The development of research and technology organisations (RTOs) centres is a natural part of the progression in developing a well rounded national innovation system. RTOs are focused on applied research directed at medium term industry needs as well as shorter term technology development and technical services for industrial clients.
- A funding scheme should be initiated by State funders to support the possible transition of existing centres and/or the introduction of new centres with a view to developing a small number of RTOs over the next 10-20 years.
- Strategic oversight of the performance of the research centre portfolio is required in order to sustain an optimised network of performing research centres.
- It is recommended that the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation should establish groups as required to take on this oversight role and to collect and analyse data relating to the performance of the research centre landscape.
- Guidance is required on the broad range of funding models which have emerged in recent years and determine where policy interventions may be required.
- Incentives and initiatives need to be continued to drive increased industrial interaction with State supported research centres.