From the Irish Times:

IN RECENT months, The Irish Times has published a number of articles defending the €8.2 billion science budget in the current National Development Plan, but its striking that the practitioners of the hard sciences present few hard facts in its defence. Dreams of finding a new Nokia are fine but critics question the over-reliance of a small country like Ireland, on university-driven basic research.

The Oireachtas has given little attention to reviewing the planned expenditure of €8.2 billion over the period 2007-2013, and last June, Taoiseach Brian Cowen announced a 28-strong innovation taskforce, packed with insider members from the universities and State agencies.

US venture capital-backed businesses use different people and procedures than the typical laboratory high-level research: they employ a much smaller proportion of PhDs in their technical staff, and their overall workforces contain a larger proportion of managers and sales and marketing staff – people who are close to users.

It would be foolish for Ireland to bank its future on a university lab or unquestionably accept the position of the various vested interests involved.

The first question I had while reading this was “Where’s our innovation task force?

Over the last months, I have toyed with the idea that Northern Ireland needs some strong, non-aligned leadership in a future digital economy and that should come in the form of a technocrat-think-tank. This is the independent body that our Ministers should be talking to when talking about the future of the Northern Ireland economy. They should come from all walks of life – biotech, greentech, digital content, software.

(And yes, I’d love to be part of that but I’m humble enough to know that my technical smarts are probably not up to scratch for this kind of thing.)

We do have the HORIZON panels – but since the report was published what’s happened. And if grassroots initiatives like NISW are going to find any traction with government, surely it’s going to need to include buy-in from groups like the HORIZON panel on ICT.

So…where do we go from here?

We start lighting fires.

0 thoughts on “NISW, MATRIX, HORIZON, ITASKFORCE – overload!”

  1. Matt, Two comments …

    1. I was on an earlier taskforce 8-9 years ago. Quit after a while. Way too much academic, theoretical blah. So just needs to be heavily loaded to real-world experience [not just a head count of those you have been in private industry]

    2. Need a Czar or Sar, not another committee 🙂

  2. 1. I agree completely. I’ve given one additional recommendation for the Horizon panel on ICT – in the absence of a panel on Digital Content.

    2. Yes, but who would you pick?

  3. I suppose that the clever bit is lighting the fires without burning bridges.

    Integration of existing initiatives is probably the right approach, but as David quite rightly describes, this will require inspirational leadership borne from real-world commercial experience to deal with the politics and drive to successful conclusions.

  4. Hi Andrew,
    That’s exactly why I bring up HORIZON. There are smart people involved – and we, the people – can nominate smart people to that panel. Isn’t it about time we put the leaders we trust and respect on the decision-making panels?

  5. Yep – I’ve thought for some time that NISW would benefit with involvement from *some* of the members of the HORIZON panel and/or someone like Brendan Mooney from Kainos. Indeed I’m having lunch with an old hand next week who I believe could add a lot of value, but I think I’ll practically have to break his arm to get him involved in “yet another” NI tech initiative.

  6. Interesting. For NI – with less population than Santa Clara county – they seems to be a general trend to multiply and minimize. A while back I started to think in terms of aggregate (pull all the wood behind one arrow) and align (let’s all aim at the same target).

    There just isn’t the critical mass to really move the needle if the small assets that NI have are spread over far to many bets.

    The above is another example.

    How to address this is beyond me, other than a good dose of head banging.

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