Sunday 19 November 2017

The Punt: Return on investment essential

Professor Mark Ferguson
Professor Mark Ferguson

RETURN on investment. Those three little words are the mantra of stockbrokers, analysts and investors everywhere.

Indeed, every one of us should question the returns every time we spend money.

The latest announcement from government-funded agency Science Foundation Ireland is a case in point.

The organisation, led by Professor Mark Ferguson, a former chief scientific adviser to the current Government, launched the first of seven research centres with much fanfare yesterday.

Its Advanced Materials and BioEngineering Research (AMBER) Centre will enjoy a massive €35m worth of funding from taxpayers – and another €165m has been committed to the remaining six centres.

This is big money, so it is reasonable to expect a certain level of return – 50 patents in three years, say, or a set number of licences.

But no results or goals were available, other than a discussion of the 99 jobs backed by the project.

Yes, research and innovation encourages companies to set up here and expand their enterprises, but surely the State isn't going to throw millions at research which private companies should be paying for themselves.

The Punt would like to see aims and expectations next time one of these centres is announced, otherwise this is one investment that we wouldn't put our money into.

Irish Independent

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