The European Competitiveness Report 2012 provides empirical evidence about industrial competitiveness in the post-crisis recession in Ireland and the other EU countries as well as EU’s neighbouring countries. A presentation of the report can be found here.
According to an Irish Times story by Dick Ahlstrom and Fiona Reddan the government has approved the report of the Research Prioritisation Steering Group in identifying 14 priority areas for state-funded research. The report itself is here.
One might hope (though probably in vain) that this would prompt some wider debate. For example, might at least some policy makers be even slightly concerned to question:
- the merits or otherwise of an increasingly centralised model of state planning for innovation,
- the continued privileging of scientific and technological knowledge which current policy advances,
- the extent to which the relentless shift towards commercialisable state-funded research is in conflict with a core original rationale for this policy: namely the provision of public goods—those which are by definition not commercialisable (current policy can look a lot like socialising the costs, while privatising the benefits), and:
- the further opportunities for rent-seeking, by both industry and academics, this sort of exercise creates and embeds, and relatedly, the high political value thereby assigned to demonstrating (by innovators, no less!) compliance with hierarchy, obedience to instructions and the uncritical acceptance of a consensus policy, aka ‘groupthink’?
Stephen Collins reports that ‘project champions’ and their teams will be given large tax breaks to incentivize them to come to Ireland to set up projects that entail ‘new product development’.
Is this a good idea? Anyone know of any empirical evidence on the effectiveness of these types of tax breaks (assuming that they exist elsewhere)?
DubLinked is a small step, but one in the right direction.
Only two county councils so far and a distinct lack of apps, but let’s say it’s early days.
The HEA has published its impact analysis of the Programme for Research in Third Level Institutions (h/t Colm Harmon). It is good that government agencies are increasingly open to such evaluation.
From the executive summary, we learn that PRTLI centres and initiatives had a budget of 1.7 bln euro, with 1.2 bln from the Exchequer. 1,700 people were employed, at an exchequer cost of 700,000 euro per job. In 1998, 2,400 full-time academics were employed at the universities and ITs. In 2008, there were 6,200 FTEs.
The commercial impact (a mix of turnover, investment, and cost savings) was 750 million euro, with 1,300 jobs created (or 600,000 euro per job). For the next five years, a further impact of 1.1 bln euro is projected.
In the foreword, John Hennessy (the HEA chairperson) puts on a brave face and lists all the benefits that were not quantified.
Intrigued by the numbers (and their precision; above numbers are rounded) in the executive summary, I read on expecting to find tables and tables with detailed data that would tell me who publishes and who gets cited, which disciplines create economic value, and what universities are motors of development. Unfortunately, such data is not available. The data, by the way, were gathered by questionnaire — that is, companies were asked how many people they additionally employed because of the PRTLI.
Some evaluation is better than no evaluation, but I think that a 1.2 bln euro investment warrants more analysis than what is offered by the HEA.