Indeed, the minister said in his speech to the Dail that "science, technology and innovation" would be one of a number of what he called "key investment priorities for 2010".
Lenihan indicated his intention to create a single stream of funding for science and technology, which will be detailed in the new year.
Conor Lenihan, Minister for Science, Technology and Innovation welcomed the news that his budget will increase: "The budget for high-tech start-ups and focused commercial research is up for the first time in three years.
These increases mean we will not just retain our centres for research excellence but will add nine new industry-led research competency centres.”
On the education side of things, the 2011 provision for Universities and ITs will be reduced by 7% to €1.113 billion. However, when the increase in the student contribution in factored in, that reduction will itself be reduced to 2.2%.
Meanwhile, Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) has welcomed an €11 million increase in their funding. Mr. John Travers, DG of SFI noted a 2011 capital allocation of €161 million which was up on last year's figure: "During this intense period of economic difficulty, this clearly highlights Ireland’s commitment to investing in high quality scientific and engineering research to support long-term, sustainable economic development. The SFI research community continues to enhance Ireland’s international reputation in science and engineering, enabling increasing levels of high tech foreign direct investment and indigenous innovation. The budget allocations will allow third level institutions to foster emerging talent and continue to build partnerships with industry so that innovative research can continue to flourish for years to come.”
According to SFI’s Director of Policy & Communications, Dr. Graham Love: “ The increased financial provision to SFI in 2011 will allow us to nurture research investments made over the past decade and to invest in a new wave of cutting edge science and engineering. This is very important for Ireland’s international reputation, for our on-going ascent of the international science rankings, and for transforming the academic-industrial relationship to Ireland’s economic advantage”.