The Star Trek transporter is my favourite invention of the future. What’s yours?
Long renowned for our novelists and poets, Ireland ranks high in the nations of the world in terms of literary innovation. When it comes to business and technological innovation however, we’re a little shy of world class. In 2010 Ireland ranked 22nd in World Economic Forum (WEF) innovation rankings, behind countries like Austria, Belgium, Israel, and Canada. Belgium? Nope, me neither. USA, Switzerland and Japan took the top 3 spots.
By 2017/2018 Ireland had climbed to 19th place in the WEF innovation rankings. This climb is no mean feat for a country whose most famous inventors had to immigrate to find an environment that fostered their creative talents. John Holland from Co. Clare, the 19th century engineer who invented the submarine, comes to mind. The emigration imperative is no less strong for our modern-day inventors. The Collison brothers, founders of Stripe, now reside in California. Their success is feted at home and abroad, and their innovative talents were well rewarded when they became the world’s youngest self-made billionaires.
All is not doom and gloom however and there are real signs of increasing levels of innovation being fostered here in Ireland. A quick search in IrishJobs.ie using search terms related to innovation, indicates plenty of opportunity for those with a talent for innovation. Examples for innovation-related search terms include ‘Design’ (2,347 jobs), ‘Innovation’ (628 jobs) and ‘R&D Engineer’ (269 jobs).
As yet, our patent filing and granting rate remains relatively low by comparison with world leaders leading countries. This is a key metric in relation to our innovation rankings. See here for details on how we compare with others.
There are many public institutions, private companies, professional organisations and funding bodies who are proactively promoting innovation in Ireland. There are many events happening country-wide to promote innovation and design thinking. I will mention just three here, aimed at three difference audiences in the innovation space.
On October 11th and 12th next, the First Polymer Training Skillnet in Athlone will host a two-day workshop in Design of Experiments. This very practical workshop will introduce participants to the concepts of effective process and product design, using observation, deduction and statistical analysis. The course is suitable for design engineers and scientists, and compliments a wide range of practical design workshops run regularly by the First Polymer Training Skillnet. To view a course outline and register please click on this link.
On 23rd October 2018 the IRDG’s annual conference, will take place at Lyrate Estate, Kilkenny. Business professionals from all backgrounds are invited to attend this national event which will connect people from diverse industry sectors – all focused on growing their businesses through innovation. One of the keynote speakers, Holly O’Driscoll, Innovation Strategist and Global Design Thinking Leader with Proctor & Gamble USA, will talk about the importance of being shamelessly human-centred in all that we do, and leveraging a design thinking mindset to create conditions for innovators to thrive. To review the conference speakers and make a booking please click on this link.
And finally, don’t forget that well-loved national institution that is the Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition will take place in Dublin on 9th to 12th January 2019. Now in its 55th year (and won by Pat Collison in 2005 at the age of 16), this innovation incubator surely deserves our support. Now is the time to start encouraging your offspring to get project ready for the 2020 exhibition. Take a look at the past winners here.
© Bernie Rushe, BSc, CPIM, Dip SA, MSc, Black Belt