Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG)

"Ahead of the Curve - Ireland's Place in the Global Economy"

Monday 27 September 2004:

The report of the Enterprise Strategy Group, chaired by Eoin O'Driscoll, which was published recently, is expected to act as the framework for Ireland's economic policy development over the coming decade. It has resulted from the inputs of 200 invited individuals making up the 25 advisory groups and supplemented by written submissions from over 100 interested parties.

At the invitation of the Faculty of Business, a senior team from Forfás visited DIT Aungier Street to give an overview of the Report's findings to a large audience drawn from across six faculties, and to hear some responses from DIT's perspective.

Opening event, the Director of the Faculty of Business, Paul O'Sullivan welcomed the Forfás team of Eoin O'Driscoll, Chairman of Forfás, Dr. Catherine Kavanagh, Project Manager of Forfás' Expert Group on Future Skills, and Brian Cogan, Forfás Enterprise Division Manager.

Eoin O'Driscoll, Catherine Kavanagh, Brian Cogan

In his opening presentation, Eoin O'Driscoll outlined the Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) report and its conclusions. Starting with an analysis of current economic success, he demonstrated that it is driven by an outstanding export performance. However, when that fast-rising graph is analysed, 90% of exports are from multinational companies and, in the main, these companies are solely production operations, with low to no R&D and Sales/Marketing links in Ireland. The remaining 10% of export performance is from indigenous companies and has grown at a worryingly slow rate over the past decade. Further analysis shows that 50% of these exports are to the UK and Northern Ireland.

He then addressed the issue of costs, and the fact that if costs continue to rise at their present rates Ireland will price itself out of certain markets.  This analysis led to the key question: what must be done?  Two urgent responses must be:

  • become a truly knowledge-based economy.  
  • widen Ireland's links with the multinational sector but work with the indigenous sector for longer term benefits through its stronger links to Ireland.

The weaknesses currently in the indigenous sector are in the key areas of Research and Development and Marketing/Sales. Ireland's effectiveness in developing these areas will dictate success or failure in becoming a knowledge-based economy, and education has a fundamental role in this, with the third level sector being asked to play a major part.

Before taking questions from the floor, Paul O'Sullivan invited three DIT colleagues to respond from their varying perspectives. Seán Byrne, of the School of Finance, compared "Ahead of the Curve" with the recent OECD report on Higher Education in Ireland and concluded that the O'Driscoll report offers the kind of shared strategic vision that the third level will buy into.  He felt this should be especially true for DIT, given the applied nature of its programmes.

Dr. Tom Cooney, from the School of Marketing, proposed the need for academics tto continue to become more entrepreneurial, especially in identifying to their students the potential, benefits, and excitement of developing their own enterprises.

Margaret Whelan, Head of DIT's Industry Development team, said  the major challenge highlighted by this report is the development of effective techniques for knowledge transfer across the two widely differing cultures of academia and industry. She said a number of projects in which DIT is engaged will help to foster these linkages, including the campus at Grangegorman which will incorporate a large Science Park, and the CONNECT initiative - an innovation network which brings together researchers, entrepreneurs, financiers and established business to create new business opportunities.

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