Tuesday 17 December 2013

Irish industrial policy examined!

Ireland's Minister for Research and Innovation, Sean Sherlock TD, has launched a book on industrial policy in the European Parliament Building in Dublin (IRL).

In the context of Ireland's exit from the formal 'troika' programme last Sunday and the Irish Government's medium-term economic strategy also to be published this week, a new book from TASC, an independent think-tank dedicated to addressing Ireland’s high level of economic inequality and ensuring that public policy has equality at its core,  provides timely critical analysis about how a strategic approach to industrial and innovation policy is needed, especially to foster indigenous industry and jobs.

The book, "The Nuts and Bolts of Innovation: New Perspectives on Irish Industrial Policy," is edited by Professor David Jacobson and published by Glasnevin Publishing. The book includes a foreword by Professor Mariana Mazzucato (University of Sussex, author of The Entrepreneurial State) and contributions by Prof. David Jacobson, Prof. Seán Ó Riain (NUI Maynooth), Prof. Jim Stewart (Trinity College Dublin), Dr Eoin O'Malley, Paul Sweeney and Dr Rachel Hilliard (NUI Galway).

Speaking at the launch, TASC's Director, Dr Nat O'Connor said "Ireland cannot rely on tax incentives or foreign direct investment alone as these will not generate enough employment. There is a need to foster research-led economic activity, innovation at all levels, and much greater focus on supports for indigenous enterprises all across the country, in order to re-balance Ireland's industrial stategy and encourage the major job growth that would represent real recovery."

Editor Prof. David Jacobson stated "The fundamental lesson from these studies is that Government needs to make policy that is strategic and coherent. If we are going to achieve a more sustainable, job-rich prosperity in the Irish economy, we need to avoid the incoherence evident in past policy decisions. For example, there has been a false perception of a need to choose between encouraging foreign direct investment and fostering indigenous industries: we need both! Many of the strategic policy decisions the Government can make would benefit both FDI and indigenous industries, but this requires detailed analysis of the linkages and the interaction between innovation policy and tax policy. We also need more supports to ensure the success of Irish companies that become multi-national."


In the book, Professor Seán Ó Riain provides an overview of the challenges facing Ireland in relation to industrial policy. Professor David Jacobson examines the difference between innovation and the narrower concept of R&D. Dr Eoin O’Malley’s paper questions the received wisdom about Ireland’s competitiveness and examines export market share. Professor Jim Stewart overturns the myth that Ireland's 12.5% Corporate Tax provides a ‘cornerstone’ of industrial policy. Chair of TASC’s Economists’ Network, Paul Sweeney, estimates the amount of public money used, directly or indirectly, to support the enterprise sector in Ireland at between €4.7 and €6.2 billion annually. Dr Rachel Hilliard and Prof. Jacobson demonstrate that strict environmental regulation can be business-friendly and lead to innovation.

• TASC=Think-tank for Action on Social Change

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