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. To review the conference speakers and make a booking please click on this link.
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.
The major difference between a person with a lean mindset and one who has not, is that the lean head is always asking ‘Who is my customer?’, ‘What does my customer want?’ and ‘Do I know how well I am satisfying my customer?’ If we regard Ireland Inc. as a supplier of resources to potential overseas customers (i.e. the multinationals), there are many bodies corporate who ask those questions on our behalf, in order to attract and retain the right customer. The National Competitiveness Council, the IDA and our educational institutions, are just a few of the agencies who are active in ensuring that Ireland Inc. has the right mix of resources to attract the right customers.
These resources, or wealth enablers, come in a variety of forms and include political systems, tax incentives, regulatory and legal systems, availability of talent and geographic and climatic factors, to name the some of the most influential. They are not wealth generating in themselves, however they create the right environment to attract the right customer, and associated wealth, into the country.
If we take a look at the software sector as an example of ‘the right customer’, many companies have been attracted to set up in Ireland. As of 2018, Amazon, Cisco, EA Games, eBay, Facebook, Google, Groupon, Mastercard, Microsoft, SAP, SmartBox, TripAdvisor, and Yahoo have all established centres here. Outside of the United States, IBM Ireland’s Software Lab is one of its largest research & development labs focusing on cloud, analytics, mobile, social, and security. Ericsson’s operation is Ireland’s largest agile enterprise software development site, creating their next generation Network Management Systems, whilst Intel’s Quark family of processors was developed in Ireland. Even Aon established their Global Innovation Centre in Ireland.
The fastest rise in recent years has been the implementation of cloud and digital services bringing a new wave of software development and analytics. Millions of euros and dollars have been invested and thousands of jobs have and still are being created. (Please don’t anyone mention the disaster that was Apple’s proposed data centre in Athenry, Co. Galway).
But why Ireland? What have been the specific resources we supply to attract such customers and their investment? Well quite simply, Ireland was ranked 1st in the world for attracting and retaining talent in the 2017 IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook. Of course, having the highest education participation rate in Europe and the youngest population also helps the country become the fastest-growing tech population in Europe.
We all know of Ireland’s corporate tax rate of 12.5%. What is less well known is that Ireland also has a 25% Research & Development Tax Credit and a 6.25% preferential tax rate on income arising from intellectual property. Not alone that but there are also foreign direct investment benefits for Multinationals when engaging with organisations like IDA Ireland.
Okay so we have the talent, an educated young workforce, attractive tax rates and incentives – but just as importantly is our ease of doing business. Last year (2017) Forbes ranked Ireland as the 4th best country in the world to do business. This is where good lean management and building a strong track record helps businesses excel in the global market. Even the Irish government are planning to increase the number of people working in tech to 3,000 per year through the Tech Life Initiative.
So, although Brexit is bringing a certain amount of uncertainty, it is still a time of positivity as a lot has been achieved since the arrival of IBM in 1956, and if we manage it properly we can expect a lot more growth and development over the coming years.
Not bad for a little country with such a short independent history. With every upside of course comes a downside. Our model is easily copied and competitiveness ebbs and flows. As long as the corporate bodies in whom we trust to manage our competitiveness keep asking ‘Who is my customer?’, ‘What does my customer want?’ and ‘Do I know how well I am satisfying my customer?’ we will continue to thrive.
See IDA infographic here