April 15, 2009

The Innovation Advantage....

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Everyone in the country should be issued a copy of Michael Porter’s “Competitive Advantage of Nations”, as necessary reading. Ireland’s advantage still lies in the relatively young, English speaking, relatively well-educated population – and its ability to tap that intellectual power for innovation. Bizarrely, Tuesday’s budget included cuts in Education. Go figure.

Celtic Tiger I (1994-2000) built on that advantage and was spectacularly successful until the dot-com boom ran its course; and continued onwards with more modest, but still respectable growth rates.
Celtic Tiger II (2002-2008) had nothing to do with our competitive advantage – it was built on tax breaks, low interest rates and plentiful Polish labour.

Some suggestions-

1) Slowly start to re-introduce college fees – provides funding for the universities and an incentive for students to stay the course and prevent dropouts.
2) provide a low-interest education loans program for students to pay for the fees.
3) provide decent salaries for post-graduate and post-doctoral researchers;along with stable career progression prospects.
4) Increase efforts to encourage linkages between indigenous hi-tech companies and universities
5) tap the worldwide diaspora to create a network of Irish Angel investors to nurture indigenous companies
6) Link this network with Enterprise Ireland\’s efforts around the globe
7) Despite all the construction that has gone on in Ireland in the last ten years *Why* is office and factory space so expensive in Ireland ??? Maybe we could turn some hotels into office suites ?