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 Government plan to revive the Economy announced -Research and Development in Ireland

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PostSubject: Re: Government plan to revive the Economy announced -Research and Development in Ireland   Tue Dec 23, 2008 4:01 pm

Another byproduct of university research is qualified researchers. A glut of them is good for pharmaceutical employers, high tech industry, IT, statistics offices, etc etc... You don't have to patent everything if the research is actually educating people at the same time.
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PostSubject: Re: Government plan to revive the Economy announced -Research and Development in Ireland   Wed Dec 24, 2008 11:39 pm

Why is it that I feel that this Government has given up, and is just marking time until the IMF come in to take the blame?
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PostSubject: Research my backside with that plan.   Thu Dec 25, 2008 3:37 pm

On point 1 in the report


  1. Sending up to 500 million is nowhere near enough. I can name at least 15 research centres in Europe who have that as a yearly budget. Ireland does not have one viable research centre existing today (well maybe Moorepark). It has mostly universities involved in base knowledge research. Base knowledge is good for getting funding not for profit and therefore the ability to innovate. So first we need to create a proper research centre (ala SINTEF in Norway, ECN in Holland, and Max Plank in Germany.....).
  2. The question then becomes what are we going to research? This of course is not mentioned but is probably the most important thing to clarify at this stage. We have very limited resources so we have to be SMART and choose our competences!
  3. Thirdly what is the scope of this centre? Will it coordinate the general research activities for the counties universities (ECN wind department does this for all of Holland as does SINTEF catalytic division in Norway) or will it be an independent entity working solely of contract research from multinationals? Or both?

On point 2 in the report

The point we need to realize is that the existing strategies for research in Ireland are not working. Projects are currently turning around approx 2-4 years (EPA CGP lifetimes for example also EI projects). We are good at providing funding to setup a facility but returns are not happening. That is why we need a change. SEI, SFI ,EPA's CGP department, Moorepark and EI need to be merged. A new focus and direction is needed to ensure that the splashing of cash is not wasted and is actually coordinated to see results. We have been talking about knowledge economy for a long time now. We have yet to make a profit.

On point 4 in the report

Ridiculous statement. Surely we are doing this already? Furthermore we have quality jobs; it is our competitiveness or lack thereof that has seen these jobs walk out the door. This is pure waffle trying to say that the jobs we had were crap but we will make things better. Bollox.

On point 5

Entrepreneurship????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????
Should not be a focus of a nation wide strategy. We need large scale research not a million daddies in their back garden sheds.

On point 7

What? Where? What we actually have in for example nanotech is a small research group (Galway from memory) with one or two passive industrial supports. Great fro funding but what products have they produced? Where is the profit? In energy we have SEI, a policy rotating door that laps up tax money from Europe. Hence we have a very poor performance in the energy field with a handful of alternative sources.

By point 8

How many times is taxation going to be mentioned?

Pont 10

Welcome but to what extent? I currently get a 30% tax free allowance regardless of my income level for the next ten years from the Dutch government.

Point 11

Wrong. Buzzer. Manufacturing will remain our main (maybe only) source of income for the next 20 years.

Point 12

Did I already say somewhere the existing strategies are not working?!

I can’t go on. This is painful No. I am glad I moved.
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PostSubject: Re: Government plan to revive the Economy announced -Research and Development in Ireland   Thu Dec 25, 2008 8:43 pm

Thanks for that riven. Would it be a good idea to pinpoint exactly why returns are not happening from the existing facilities?
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PostSubject: Re: Government plan to revive the Economy announced -Research and Development in Ireland   Fri Dec 26, 2008 3:53 pm

There are several levels in research (different people have different definitions).

There is base knowledge (idea), proof of principle (could work 15% sure), proof of concept (may work 50% sure), pilot testing (does work 75% sure) and full scale implementation (does work 90% sure: improve further?).

As we read left to right, the amount of money required increases as does the risk (a no go at stage one could cost say 2 years, at final stage could be costing 10+ years).

In general (over 90% of the time) universities are to the left of this scale. Universities rarely have direct access or contact to final stage implementation. The vast majority of Ireland’s research comes from universities. Therefore all the research we complete is base knowledge sometimes developing into proof of principle.

There is not much revenue to be gained at these stages of research or in reality there much output. We are talking very general designs or basic prototypes at best. There are not easy to sell and generally are only used to
leverage funding. Thus you stay at the same output level as opposed to earning profit and moving upwards/outwards.

There is nothing wrong in principle with the research Ireland does. But it is only one type of research. Ireland Inc needs far more upscale research that most universities cannot achieve and most SME are unwilling to solely invest in. That is why we need a research centre like those in Europe. With such an entity we keep the base knowledge but with a view to coordinating it and extending it. SME can then provide support or funding for the final stages. Profit is made by selling the concept at 50-75% stage or by simply providing support to the SME throughout the project.


Last edited by riven on Fri Dec 26, 2008 3:55 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Quick reply is not formatting correctly)
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PostSubject: Re: Government plan to revive the Economy announced -Research and Development in Ireland   Sat Dec 27, 2008 4:55 pm

Quote :
Good research was being done, people were wanting to buy, but University management was looking for much too much money from the buyers.
Ah yes, that is a problem I've heard about from an academic who is currently setting up a business.

The university are (rightly) entitled to a license fee, but what they are asking for is far too much to make the business viable.
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PostSubject: Re: Government plan to revive the Economy announced -Research and Development in Ireland   Wed Dec 31, 2008 3:57 pm

A little more perspective using a woefully simple back of matchhbox calculation.

I checked the figures for three research institutions in Europe for the research funding per researcher. The rate workes out approximately €150,000 per researcher/employee (management and admin are included).
I also looked at the amount of investment needed both for capital (i.e. equipment) and operating (operating materials) and this comes in at a similar value €150,000 per researcher.

Now in Ireland the researchers will cost less as many will be on university contract: say €75,000 and the equipment will be much cheaper (smaller scale, less versitile) so I will assume half €75,000.

So the cost of one researcher in Ireland will be in the €150,000. The €500 million funding will therefore provide approx 3333 jobs. That is very expensive and very little return.
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PostSubject: Re: Government plan to revive the Economy announced -Research and Development in Ireland   Wed Dec 31, 2008 4:25 pm

riven wrote:
There are several levels in research (different people have different definitions).

There is base knowledge (idea), proof of principle (could work 15% sure), proof of concept (may work 50% sure), pilot testing (does work 75% sure) and full scale implementation (does work 90% sure: improve further?).

As we read left to right, the amount of money required increases as does the risk (a no go at stage one could cost say 2 years, at final stage could be costing 10+ years).

In general (over 90% of the time) universities are to the left of this scale. Universities rarely have direct access or contact to final stage implementation. The vast majority of Ireland’s research comes from universities. Therefore all the research we complete is base knowledge sometimes developing into proof of principle.

There is not much revenue to be gained at these stages of research or in reality there much output. We are talking very general designs or basic prototypes at best. There are not easy to sell and generally are only used to
leverage funding. Thus you stay at the same output level as opposed to earning profit and moving upwards/outwards.

There is nothing wrong in principle with the research Ireland does. But it is only one type of research. Ireland Inc needs far more upscale research that most universities cannot achieve and most SME are unwilling to solely invest in. That is why we need a research centre like those in Europe. With such an entity we keep the base knowledge but with a view to coordinating it and extending it. SME can then provide support or funding for the final stages. Profit is made by selling the concept at 50-75% stage or by simply providing support to the SME throughout the project.

Would a research centre go all the way from left to right, so to speak, in a specialised area?

What area/s of research do you think Ireland should specialise in?
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PostSubject: Re: Government plan to revive the Economy announced -Research and Development in Ireland   Thu Jan 01, 2009 5:59 pm

A research centre would not go all hte way left to right. We already have a lot of base knowledge activity that is uncoordinated so the research cnetre would look to coordinate this activity. The goal of the centre would be to kick in at this point and operate from a proof of principle/concept to pilot testing. It would offer support for full scale implementation to the target company. So its goal would be to fill the void between university and full scale production in the company.

The important thing is to ensure that the research we do is coordinated. So that means specialisation. When choosing what area we simply have to consider Ireland as a client and use, the researchers as a separate entity. Some ideas
1. Energy efficiency: Focus primarily on inteligent grid design, eco homes (serious research by building and testing several design homes) and lifecycle analysis of energy in Ireland. From the lifecycle analysis, secondary areas such as improving industrial energy use, heat reclaimation (both industrial and at home) will become clear or at least possible to define.
2. Alternative energy. Outside of policy and limited studies (marine energy is a start, must be expanded) Ireland has very small output in this area. Thus it is heavily reliant on oil and gas and coal from elsewhere. Ireland has lots of wind but the turbines are not very good at providing much power per turbine - wind energy. Some geothermal work is already in progress and Ireland does have a reasonable geological society: expand. Finally Ireland should look at osmotic power and desalination with a view to being a fresh water supplier to water stressed countries such as England and perhaps some of Europe. We get oil from there so send water back is feasible. If the water economy does not happen, at least we have another source of freshwater combined with power generation. Do not do solar, alternative cars (form fuel cells to electirc, too far behind) nor biofuels for eg until a more practical means of producing biofuels comes online. We have little experience in these areas
3. Scrap pharma research in universities especially drug development el al studies. We have produced nothing in his field for ages that has not been produced already in US, England and Germany. Biotech is also an area that ireland should not get involved in heavy for research. We missed the boat on that.

There are many more ideas that I cannot provide alone. But think of the current and coming market. Energy production, efficiency, water, food.
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PostSubject: I saw your post on the Dell thread on p.ie and wanted to reciprocate   Fri Jan 09, 2009 2:50 pm

[QUOTE=riven]This economic basis must not base itself on entrepreneurs. It base must be microbusiness that are linked and coordinated together perhaps by a larger indegenious research/technology holding company al Sintef in Norway or ECN in Holland. Entrepreneurs being a sucess are rare and usually the failure rate is much higher than realised.

As for whether Ireland can implement it, i seriously doubt it. See below my reaction to the knowledge plan.[/QUOTE]


The holding company/patent bank concept had been thrown around in previous tech foresight debates and while useful, at the time, there was no coherent IP policy among the Universities so could not be directly implemented. I worked with people involved in ECN in the late '90s and I have to say, it was beyond complex with respect to extracting any useful IP so we dropped it. So I would also say that the extraction of IP for commercialisation has to be much easier in order that some value accrues, and academics have to not just give lip service to the truism that 100% of zero is zero and allow value to be created.

While I think no strategy should be singularly focussed I think there are times when the emphasis has to be placed on key activities to deliver the strategy. At this point in time, with all the funding that has been placed into the economy for research and SFI activities, it is proper that a focus be given to the INDIGENOUS commercialisation of Irish research and that will be done by people who create business, i.e., entrepreneurs, not academics. In terms of the commercialisation process, yes research is critical but it is only the Start of another part of the process, which in general, takes a long time and a lot of effort.

We have a thread here on the plan.... http://www.politics.ie/economy/37823-economic-recovery-plan-what-say-ye-now.html
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PostSubject: Re: Government plan to revive the Economy announced -Research and Development in Ireland   Fri Jan 09, 2009 3:45 pm

I heard a very good interview on BBC Radio 4 in which the speaker, Professor Richard Florida, spoke about the importance of clusters of similar businesses for such businesses to flourish. Here's the link:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/news/inbusiness/inbusiness_20090104.shtml
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