Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Science and Technology Policy

Some recent defences of spending on science and technology in Ireland have come from Professor Luke O'Neill (if you look closely at this post you will see a remarkable slip of the tongue by yours truly) and Frank Gannon, Director of SFI.

These introduce a number of things into debate. O'Neill's argument brings in the research of Murphy and Topel examining the benefits of medical research, something that should be read by anyone serious about this debate. Gannon directs the debate specifically toward the functioning of large SFI programmes such as CSET's and Strategic Research Clusters. It is extremely welcome that these terms are now starting to enter the debate as ultimately this is what taxpayers are funding and ultimately the success of these initiatives or otherwise will determine whether the investment has been worthwhile. The comment below clearly is something that merits further comment and in general a more open debate about the specific outputs of IRCSET, IRCHSS, SFI, PRTLI and so on would advance this public discussion a great deal.

"The impact of the CSETs is well recognized and we are confident that the same will be true of the SRCs in a short time. In fact, the surprising result that SFI can report is that its investments when looked at as a portfolio have yielded positive commercial results in a 3-5 year period"

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