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Time for action on Innovation Taskforce

 Ireland runs the risk of missing out on future opportunities if it fails to implement urgently the recommendations of the Innovation Taskforce according to Lionel Alexander, President of the American Chamber of Commerce in Ireland. Speaking to a meeting of the American Chamber member companies in Dublin today, Mr Alexander, a member of the Government's Innovation Taskforce, said that swift action was required or Ireland will lose ground on its competitors.

"The shelves of Government are creaking with reports and as a member of the Innovation Taskforce I do not want our report to be left on the shelf gathering dust like so many before it. I am calling on the Government to put its cards on the table and to outline how and when it plans to implement the recommendations of the Taskforce", he said. "The Report provides a wide range of proposals. It is imperative that Government target both the immediate and long term recommendations."

In calling for the publication of an implementation plan Mr. Alexander stated the need to clearly outline the funding which would be available to ensure its delivery. In particular, "the agencies responsible for delivering the funding must to be clearly identified and accountable".

"The American Chamber fully acknowledges the constraints which exist due to the fiscal difficulties facing the country at this time but our long term economic and social wellbeing depends on the decisions we make today. Resources will need to be reprioritised if we are to achieve our long term vision of transforming Ireland into a world class Innovation Hub", he said.

"The Taskforce called for the establishment of a high level group drawn from the public and private sectors and reporting to the Taoiseach and the Cabinet Committee on Economic Renewal to ensure that the recommendations are implemented in a timely fashion. That group needs to be established immediately and must be industry led. Specifically, the multinational and exporting sectors, which have performed well through the recession and have the greatest potential for innovation must be strongly represented on the implementation group. We also need to see representation from innovative indigenous start - up companies who have a critical role in delivering Ireland's Smart economy".

According to Mr. Alexander the Government needs to ensure it creates an appetite for investment and innovation. "We must identify quick wins that can be achieved in the short term to boost Ireland's role as an innovation hub. Government must work with industry to urgently identify flagship innovation projects with real investment and employment opportunities. This would incentivise industry to achieve a greater level of innovation and Smart investments. To support this Ireland should, as recommended, position itself as a centre for excellence for the treatment of Intellectual Property. The potential is there for significant employment and investment in this area, and so the development of a national IP Protocol is one of the most pressing priorities.

"One of our main strengths in driving innovation is our vibrant multinational community", he continued. "Ireland continues to attract new inward investments, particularly from US companies and this will be vital to Ireland's economic recovery and renewal. However, the reality is that in the future, investment will be heavily influenced not just by the ability of Government to devote its energies to answering yesterday's problems, but also by how it is taking advantage of tomorrow's opportunities. We have to put the public finances in order, that is a given and will require painful adjustment by both the public and private sectors. But we also have to show that our desire to be an innovation led Smart economy is not empty rhetoric. Investors must see that Government is implementing the measures recommended by the Innovation Taskforce and others

Time of is the essence in implementing these recommendations. "We do not exist in a vacuum", Mr Alexander said. "And we certainly don't have a monopoly on wisdom when it comes to assessing what a modern economy needs to thrive. Our competitors are already moving ahead with their plans to become innovation hubs and we are already falling behind. Action is needed now. The report of the Innovation Taskforce sets out a roadmap for our future economic success for Ireland and we should lose no time in following it."


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