The announcement that Máire Geoghegan Quinn has been made Commissioner for Research and Innovation in the European Commission sends a very positive signal about Ireland’s commitment and engagement with Science Technology Innovation.
The fact that the Commission separates research and innovation from enterprise is perhaps a little surprising, but it has always been thus. In the past the Research Commissioner had a relatively low key position in the ranking of Commissioners. But this is changing rapidly.
The current budget for this directorate is over €8billion and growing. Much more significant however is the fact that research, science and innovation can no longer be pigeonholed into a predominantly academic context. The reality, which has not yet been fully appreciated is that research will be a component of all directorate’s in the Commission and all departments in Government. The horizontal role of research will with time be viewed as similar to the horizontal role played by finance. With this recognition the appointment of the Irish Commissioner to this directorate takes on a very high importance. The topics which are covered currently within the EC framework programmes touch on all of the other directorates and for this reason I think that it is important that we recognise the significance and relevance of today’s appointment.