ICT Supporting the Smart Economy: The Case of Ireland

This case study examines the contribution of information and communication technologies (ICT) to national economic development in the context of Ireland’s National Knowledge Society Strategy. It charts the evolution of the national industrial development strategy from early-stage, low value-added manufacturing to higher value-added innovation-driven approach and identifies essential steps relating to public investment in education and research. Ireland has a long tradition of mathematics and related disciplines supporting ICT.

As far back as the 7th century, monasteries throughout Ireland were engaged in a mathematical science “computus” aimed at calculating the exact date of Easter. In later years, the work of Hamilton (1805–1865) and of Boole (1815–1864) provided a significant basis for modern computer systems. The government published its blueprint for sustainable economic renewal, Building Ireland’s Smart Economy, in December 2008.This report contains a list of smart (ICT-based) actions in the context of a low-carbon economy.

A National Knowledge Society Strategy is also under preparation and will be published in 2010.The theme of the strategy is to increase employment and enhance quality of life.A first report—Technology Actions to Support the Smart Economy—was published in July 2009 and identifies a number of innovative approaches with high job-creation potential.

A target of 30,000 new, high-value sustainable jobs has been set for these actions. The main section of this case study presents six technology actions and examines the relevant contribution these can make to accelerate the development of the smart economy.The actions are: • an exemplar communications test-bed based on optical burst switching (OBS), where Ireland is a global leader; • an initiative to establish Ireland as a location for energy-efficient data centers and cloud computing centers; • the establishment of an international content services center;

  • the convergence of communications and energy technology in the development of a smart electricity network/grid; 1412.2: ICT Supporting the Smart Economy The author would like to acknowledge the support of Brendan Whelan (National Knowledge Society Strategy, Ireland) in preparing this chapter. The author also thanks the Industrial Development Authority Ireland for their information on foreign direct investment and the Apple Ireland illustration;

Enterprise Ireland for information on indigenous companies; Science Foundation Ireland, Forfás (Ireland’s national advisory body for enterprise and science), and the Irish Higher Education Authority for details on research; the Irish Business and Employers Confederation; and Maire Herbert (University College Cork) and David O’Gorman (National Knowledge Society Strategy, Ireland) for their helpful input. Part 2.r2 3/10/10 10:43 PM Page 141

  • the development of a real-time remote water monitoring system; and • a combined intelligent traffic/work commuting approach. ICT will play a very significant role in realizing the goals of these actions and also in the development of a wide range of green products and services. ICT and industrial development policy Ireland introduced a series of initiatives to stimulate industrial development in the 1960s.The establishment of the Industrial Development Authority (IDA), the introduction of grants to attract foreign direct investment (FDI), and the establishment of low corporate taxation on profits all had a significant impact on the growth of manufacturing.The low-cost base, the availability of a young educated workforce, and good connections to the United States–based Irish diaspora led to an influx of US multinational corporations (MNCs). Joining the European Economic Community (EEC) in the 1970s increased the rate of FDI.The Irish educational system adapted to the needs of MNCs and showed flexibility in organizing specialist tertiary courses in both regional technical colleges (now institutes of technology) and universities. Management of Irish corporations concentrated on raising their reputation as quality manufacturers by setting high standards in quality assurance and good manufacturing practice and establishing strong engineering expertise in their plants. If you use this site you will find a lot of information about gofilms4u

These initiatives were encouraged and stimulated by the government through the provision of generous training grants. A strong reputation for high-quality and efficient manufacturing gained in the 1970s and 1980s, the availability of plant engineers skilled in production adaptation, and the international marketing expertise of the IDA with its international network of offices led to continued success in FDI attraction.

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A strong MNC presence stimulated indigenous industrial development. Initially, these new Irish companies aimed at servicing the needs of the MNCs and then evolved as manufacturers and providers of services in their own right.The government established a related state marketing board with offices throughout the world (often sharing premises with the IDA).The development of an indigenous industry was separated from the IDA and is managed today by Enterprise Ireland (EI). Clusters of companies gradually developed.

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