John Halligan TD, Minister of State for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development charts the research and innovation landscape in Ireland today.

Over the past thirty years, Ireland has built a growing reputation for scientific excellence and is a world leader in generating and using new knowledge for economic and social progress. Innovation is a cornerstone of Ireland’s overall economic development policy. As a small country, we know that innovation is key to maintaining competitiveness for Ireland in global markets – and thereby providing employment and sustainable growth in our economy. We recognise that innovation is crucial to creating and maintaining high-value jobs and attracting, developing and nurturing business, scientists, researchers and innovators.

Ireland is one of the leading RDI (Research, Development and Innovation) locations in the world. It offers the ideal commercial, political and social environment for companies to carry out successful and profitable RDI activities. This has attracted global leaders in key high-tech industries to undertake RDI projects in areas such as pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, medical devices, ICT and financial services.

Innovation 2020 is our cross-government strategy for research and innovation, science and technology. Launched in 2015, it contains a large number of initiatives to support broad-based innovation, focusing on excellence, talent and impact to deliver on our vision to become a global innovation leader, driving a strong, sustainable economy and a better society.

From pre-primary through to further and higher education and throughout an individual’s career, skills and knowledge need to be continuously enhanced if individuals, employers and countries are to realise their potential. Our success has always depended and will always depend, on our people.

To address the many global challenges that we face across society and the economy, we are ensuring that future generations of problem solvers can be inspired. Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) is the national foundation for investment in scientific and engineering research. Its work in promoting science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) to the public stimulates very important public conversations around scientific research and encourages young people to consider pursuing a career path in these areas.

Initiatives being funded through SFI’s Discover programme help generate enthusiasm for STEM and highlight the individual, societal and economic value of encouraging more people in Ireland to get involved.

It is vital that Ireland has a strong pipeline of STEM talent and cohorts of academically outstanding future research leaders with the skills and knowledge required to address the future challenges of an ever-changing work environment. Enhancing skills, developing and attracting talent is a pillar of the Irish Government’s Future Jobs Ireland plan.

Further to this, earlier this year I launched the SFI Centres for Research Training, aimed at providing 700 PhD students trained in digital, data and ICT skills for the future, in collaboration with industry. Ireland will take a cohort-based approach to research training, allowing for better integration and collaboration across disciplines and ultimately, individuals who are well rounded, well-equipped and confident to help achieve our RDI ambitions. The cohort approach will expose students to the wider scientific relevance of their research, encourage peer-to-peer learning and facilitate the establishment of networks, empowering them to take on positions of leadership.

Supporting collaboration between academics and industry is something that we have been very successful here in Ireland. It is an important part of how we transfer knowledge from our higher education institutions (HEIs) to industry.

Ireland’s pro-business knowledge transfer eco-system is proven. Our business development agency, Enterprise Ireland, works with researchers in higher education and other research performing organisations (RPOs) to help maximise the commercial return from publicly-funded research. Investment in RPOs the length and breadth of the country is critical and as such, it must go hand in hand with an effective strategy to put that research into the hands of businesses for the benefit of the Irish economy and society. The commercialisation of public research to drive innovation and Ireland’s economic competitiveness is a key pillar of Innovation 2020. Our recently revised National IP Protocol is a key element of that strategy. The revised IP Protocol is the product of an extensive consultative process facilitated by Knowledge Transfer Ireland with representatives from industry, investors, entrepreneurs, agencies and research organisations to ensure that government policy supports all types of enterprises engaging with publicly-funded research in Ireland.

Generating and using new knowledge for economic and social progress is a key priority. By transforming the level and quality of interactions between our higher education research institutions and enterprise, we are developing a strong capacity to commercialise our public research and we are ranked first in the world for knowledge diffusion.

International cooperation maximises the impact of international and national investment in research and innovation. It contributes to the development of Ireland as a research and enterprise partner, underscoring and enhancing the excellence of our research and innovation system and facilitating engagement with the Irish diaspora. A significant component of our engagement in international cooperation is the participation by our researchers and enterprises in the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation. The benefits of Horizon 2020 extend far beyond the potential monetary rewards. It provides a mechanism to network and collaborate with the best researchers and leading companies across Europe and engages the RDI community in addressing common societal challenges. These benefits are particularly important for a small, island nation.

In the current context, more than ever, it is vital that we harness the considerable abilities of Ireland’s researchers, to give our businesses the best possible competitive edge on the global stage.


John Halligan TD

Minister of State for Training, Skills, Innovation,

Research and Development

Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation

Tel: +353 1 631 2121

Irish suppliers have much to offer customers in Singapore and the ASEAN region, according to Smruti Inamdar, Director ASEAN at Enterprise Ireland Singapore.

Affinities shared by Singapore and Ireland are making Irish companies increasingly attractive to ASEAN partners and customers.

Coming from a small open economy, Irish companies inherently understand that the region cannot be treated as a cohesive or homogeneous bloc and that each individual market is unique.

Irish companies also appreciate the need to spend time building relationships with local customers and partners. When delivering long-term projects, Irish companies are known for adopting a flexible approach, working in partnership with customers to deliver the best solution, even when unexpected challenges or changes arise.

The appeal of this approach is evident in the growth of Irish exports to, and presences in, Singapore and ASEAN. There are now approximately 300 Irish companies exporting to the region, with 130 companies having at least one presence on the ground. That number continues to grow.

Exports from Ireland to the region reached €320 million last year, following five consecutive years of double-digit growth. Enterprise Ireland, the national export agency, has demonstrated its confidence in the development of the relationship, aiming to increase total exports to €500 million by 2020.

If you are interested in discussing the advantages of sourcing an Irish partner, Enterprise Ireland can help you to assess which innovative products, services, and solutions may be best suited to your requirements.

Let’s take a close look at key sectors in which Irish companies offer a particularly strong advantage to partners in Singapore and ASEAN.

Aerospace and Aviation

With investment in aerospace and aviation continuing to grow, Ireland is emerging as a global hub servicing the needs of rapidly developing industries. Over 250 Irish companies are actively engaged in aerospace and aviation and over 40% of the world’s fleet of leased aircraft are owned and managed from Ireland. That performance has helped Ireland to become widely regarded as a global centre of excellence for aviation, with its proud history of pioneering developments and dynamic innovation.

As the world’s fastest-growing air hub, Singapore must expand its infrastructure to meet growing demand. In July 2017, Singapore to Jakarta and Singapore to Kuala Lumpur were included in the top five of the world’s busiest international air routes. The development of a T5 mega passenger terminal remains on the drawing board, which, when completed, would have the capacity to handle 132 million passengers a year, a huge jump from the 82 million passengers currently served.

In contributing to the region, Irish companies including CAE, Eirtech Aviation and Aero Inspection lead the way, securing aviation opportunities in the wider region from bases in Singapore.

To demonstrate Irish capability in the sector, Enterprise Ireland participated alongside nine client companies in the Aviation Festival Asia in Singapore in February 2018.


As one of the most dense and vibrant urban areas in the world, Singapore is very much leading the way internationally in creating a sustainable building environment. There is much potential for Irish companies to help deliver the government’s ambitious agenda in this area. Singapore is striving towards a target of ‘greening’ 80% of new and existing buildings by 2030 (currently at approximately 30%). The power consumption of Tanjong Pagar Centre, Singapore’s tallest building, is managed by Dublin-headquartered Cylon Controls. Dortek hygienic doors have been used in an inflight catering kitchen facility in Singapore’s Changi Airport, providing hygienic and low temperature sealing solutions to the facility. Enterprise Ireland is also actively working with the Singapore Green Building Council to build awareness of Irish technologies in the area. The growing Irish green-build cluster includes firms such as Kingspan Insulated Panels and LED Group ROBUS.

Irish companies in the high-end construction sector are well positioned to support Singapore’s transformation as a data centre hub for the Asia Pacific region, with the country’s colocation data centre market expected to grow at 13% year-on-year 2017 – 2018 (Source: Structure Research, 2017). Global and regional data centre providers such as Global Switch, Digital Realty, Equinix, Microsoft and Amazon are all operating in Singapore as well as Irish companies active in data centre development, including Linesight, PM Group, and E+I Engineering.


Ireland and Singapore are relatively similar, with both having a small number of local banks and several hundred international financial institutions also located in the market. That shared ecosystem makes for a highly competitive arena in which innovation is a crucial driver.

Ireland is home to one of the most important financial services centres in the EU and one of the world’s largest concentrations of technology companies.

As the main financial services hub in the ASEAN region, a strong cohort of Irish companies are active in Singapore having secured significant wins with SGX (Singapore Exchange), United Overseas Bank (UOB), and Standard Chartered Bank. Ireland’s global leadership in the fintech, regtech and insurtech spaces is also making an impact in other financial hubs in the broader region.

With over 40% of global hedge fund assets serviced in Ireland, its resulting regulatory expertise is leveraged by Irish fintech companies to help funds, banks and insurance companies deal efficiently with compliance, and make better, data-driven management decisions. An established sector of payments technology companies has a strong track record of helping major banks and marketplaces to respond to rapid digitisation and changing consumer demand.

Telecommunications and IoT

Another key offering from Ireland is in telecommunications and Internet of Things (IoT), with Irish technology companies delivering high-end solutions to mobile network operators (MNOs) across the ASEAN region. Irish technology providers have progressed from the provision of SMS technologies and services to more sophisticated data analytics, IoT solutions and technologies used to enhance customer experience.

Irish companies in the sector have been active in the ASEAN region for many years, developing leading solutions to meet the evolving needs of local operators. The Irish telco cluster in ASEAN includes Accuris Networks, Anam, Asavie, Nasctech, Openmind, Tango, and Openet, which has more than 250 staff based in their regional HQ in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Many are now doing business with major operators such as Axiata Group , Globe Telecom in the Philippines, Singtel in Singapore, and Vietnamobile in Vietnam.