Two fundamental technologies, in particular, are likely to be at the heart of future growth, biotechnology and information technology.
IDA Ireland and its sister agencies are focused on ensuring that we will be successful in attracting and cultivating such businesses in Ireland.
For example, it is estimated that the potential market in biotechnology alone will grow in value to $70 billion by 2010. While we will have strong competition, Ireland is well placed to win its fair share of this business as many of the serious players in biotechnology will be the pharmaceutical companies which already have operations here in Ireland. Schering Plough in Brinny, Co. Cork, for example, has had a biopharma facility for a number of years, while Wyeth is in the process of building the largest such operation in the world at Grangecastle, Clondalkin, Dublin – it will employ 1,300 highly qualified people when fully operational. Genzyme’s biopharma facility in Waterford is well underway.
A key element in winning further such investments will be the availability of relevantly educated people, increasingly at third level and beyond.
In information technology, key areas for growth will include semiconductor design and fabrication; systems design, development and support; software development; and high value service activities such as business process, e-procurement and supply chain management.
Intel’s Fab 24, which will start production in 2004, is one of the most advanced facilities of its kind in the world and is testament to Ireland’s ability to continue to win high technology manufacturing investments.
During 2003 we also succeeded in winning important projects from internet services companies Google, Overture, eBay/PayPal and Yahoo which are setting up key European centres in Ireland.
The Government, through the provision of €2.5 billion in funding for research and development under the National Development Plan 2000-2006, is facilitating the continuing movement of Ireland up the value chain.
The research competencies now evident in our third-level institutions as a result of such investment through the HEA and Science Foundation Ireland are resulting in an more technology companies setting up research and development facilities here and engaging in collaborative research with our colleges.
During 2003, for example, 39 R&D investments were approved for funding by IDA and we expect this trend to accelerate.
This higher level of R&D activity is leading to increased demand for science and engineering graduates and to greater opportunities for postgraduates, doctorates and post-doctorates in these disciplines.
Science and industry will have a much closer relationship in the coming years and science and engineering graduates will be central players in the new generation of activities which IDA is now attracting.
It is important also to bear in mind that the skills learned through a science or engineering based education are valuable not only in science and engineering but are pervasive throughout the economy and society.
For those who study science and engineering, the choices are many. Those who drop science subjects at an early stage close many potential options for employment.
The future is very promising and exciting for those who take on the challenge of science and technology.