Companies must be supported to diversity their products and market mix

A REVIEW by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation of the Department’s Capital Expenditure on Research, Development and Innovation (RDI) has identified the need to support companies to diversify their product and market mix, a move which is critical in the context of Brexit.

The review contributes to the wider Government Review of Expenditure 2017 and features in the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform’s Mid-Year Expenditure Report.

The report traces expenditure from its objectives to inputs, outputs, outcomes and impacts between the period 2000 to 2016.

The review finds that innovative active firms with greater varieties of products and markets have higher survival rates and a greater ability to withstand shocks.

Innovation also aids in developing product or service mix and increases organisational capabilities to internationalise. Of the Enterprise Ireland clients, non-RDI active firms had the greatest job losses in the recession, while innovation active firms showed higher resilience and growth in employment, exports and value added.

While progress has been made in developing capabilities and capacity across all aspects of Ireland’s National Innovation System, the review identifies challenges to be addressed in order to continually enhance the impact and effectiveness of funding throughout the system.

These include; broadening the base of innovation active firms; deepening the scale of investment; widening supports available; and supporting companies to diversify their product and market mix, which is critical in the context of Brexit and firms that are currently over reliant on a single market.

The Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise and Innovation, Frances Fitzgerald TD, together with the Minister for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development, John Halligan TD outlined the importance of evaluating the impact of public funding for RDI and the relevance of continued investment.

The Tánaiste noted that: “There is a demonstrated impact of innovation in driving productivity growth, which is the most sustainable basis for Ireland’s economic growth and living standards overall. Innovation is central to Ireland’s competitiveness and the ability of companies based in Ireland to compete internationally.

“In the context of Ireland’s ambitions to become a global innovation leader and in the face of continually changing markets, technological and geo-political forces, there is an urgent need to both broaden the base of companies engaged in RDI and deepen the scale of investment to a level that at least matches our key competitors.”

Minister John Halligan TD said: “The results show Ireland competes well internationally with regard to innovation performance and quality of research but remains below average in the OECD and EU in terms of public and private investment.

“The fact that Ireland performs relatively well with comparatively low levels of investment is an indicator of efficiency and productivity in the system. This is a solid foundation for driving increased performance across government, higher education and business sectors.”

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