Ireland’s Innovation success in the EU

  • Minister English welcomes Ireland’s improved position, now 8th in Innovation Union Scoreboard, up one from 2014
  • Announces over €97 Million of funding won by researchers and companies in Horizon 2020 EU Programme for Research and Innovation
  • Encourages even more industry participation in Horizon 2020

Ireland moves up one place to 8th position in the 2015 Innovation Union Scoreboard of 28 Member States published today, 7th May 2015. Minister for Skills, Research and Innovation, Damien English TD welcomed the improved ranking and said: “This is the second year in a row in which Ireland’s ranking has improved, up from 9th in 2014 and 10th in 2013. In particular, I am pleased to see Ireland ranked first on two specific dimensions: Innovators; and Economic Effects which shows that our strategy of accelerating the economic and societal returns on our public investment in research and innovation is paying off. “

“In June 2013 Government set a range of system level targets in the context of implementation of research prioritisation and one of those targets was to move to 8th place in the Innovation Union Scoreboard by 2017 – as a result of a range of policy measures targeting our investment at areas of greatest economic and societal return, encouraging greater collaboration between academia and industry and enhancing the commercialisation of research we have met our target ahead of schedule”, continued the Minister. ”

Of the eight dimensions that make up the European Commission’s Innovation Union Scoreboard, Ireland ranked first in two of them: Innovators; and Economic Effects. The Innovators dimension measures how innovative firms are, while the Economic Effects captures economic success stemming from innovation in terms of employment, revenue and exports.

“The strengthening of our Innovation performance is bolstering our capacity to compete under HORIZON 2020 – the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation – and I am very pleased with the results for the first 9 months of the programme which show that we are on track to exceed our target for success in the first year.”

Ireland’s researchers and companies have been successful in winning €97 Million of funding in the first 9 months of Horizon 2020.

Ireland has traditionally performed well in areas such as ICT and research fellowships and researcher mobility across all disciplines (Marie Curie Actions).  In these areas, Ireland’s researchers have been awarded over €24 Million and €13 Million respectively. Ireland has also been very successful in the Agri-food (€11 Million) and Health (€10 Million) areas.

Ireland’s success in competing for European Research Council (ERC) grants under Horizon 2020 has significantly exceeded our performance in previous programmes.  The ERC’s prestigious grants support frontier research across all fields, on the basis of scientific excellence. The funding to ERC grantees in Horizon 2020 so far is over €19 Million.

In welcoming the success to date, Minister of for Skills, Research and Innovation, Damien English TD said “I am confident that, based on the pipeline of activity, we will surpass our target of €100 Million for the first year of the Programme. I would like to congratulate the Higher Education Institutions which account for over 70% of the success to date. Irish companies account for almost 20% of Ireland’s success, with 62% of this going to SMEs”.

Commenting on the industry engagement figures, Minister English added: “I would also like to commend industry and in particular Ireland’s innovative SMEs. The latest Innovation Union rankings demonstrate how innovative Ireland is at the level of the firm.  There are many more opportunities which innovative firms, including SMEs, can exploit in Horizon 2020. I want to encourage more industry participation. Success brings not only financial rewards but also a chance to collaborate with the best and brightest in Europe.  Enterprise Ireland’s Horizon 2020 industry experts are available to offer advice and support to companies on the Programme, its opportunities and how to apply”.

Noting the progress to date, Enterprise Ireland Chief Executive Officer, Julie Sinnamon said: “Enterprise Ireland is proud to lead Ireland’s participation in Horizon 2020. The latest results from the EU Commission show that Irish SMEs continue to shine in Europe– we are particularly interested to see our high potential start-ups and established companies with disruptive technologies reaping the rewards of the new SME focussed programmes. These programmes offer new and different opportunities to those in previous framework programmes and are at a scale suited to real impact on company development”

Collaboration is at the heart of Horizon 2020 – between industry and academia and between countries.

Among the Irish Universities, NUI Galway has had a noteworthy success rate, attracting the highest Horizon 2020 funding, with projects that exemplify the collaborative approach. One of their projects involves Irish SME Sports Surgery Clinic Dublin collaborating with the University on a large-scale clinical trial using adult stem cells to treat knee osteoarthritis. The project, which is co-ordinated by Professor Frank Barry of the Regenerative Medicine Institute (REMEDI) at NUI Galway, has been funded to the value of almost €6 million and trials are expected to be underway across Europe by the end of 2015.

In a separate multi-million euro clinical trial in the area of diabetic complications led by Professor Tim O’Brien of REMEDI and CÚRAM at NUI Galway. Galway-based Orbsen Therapeutics, a spin-out from NUI Galway will also play a key role in the project which will include partners in Northern Ireland and across Europe.

In both projects Dublin-based SME Pintail Ltd will ensure effective collaboration between the partners and support the management and delivery of the funded projects.
NUI Galway’s strong performance has ranged across many sectors, from the biosciences to the social sciences. Commenting on NUI Galway’s success, Professor Lokesh Joshi, Vice-President for Research commented:  ‘NUI Galway views EU collaboration and funding as a key priority to strengthen our research and its impact on society. The University is working with government agencies and the EU to actively encourage, enable and support researchers to participate in EU funding programmes. We are also focusing on mentoring and supporting our younger generation of researchers to participate in EU funding calls. Our success so far is the success of our researchers who are investing their time, energy and passion for research and innovation in a highly competitive process.’

Dr. Imelda Lambkin, National Director for Horizon 2020, Enterprise Ireland said: “The Irish approach is to provide hands on assistance to our Horizon 2020 applicants – this level of support, building on national research and innovation investments, is paying off. Ireland’s researchers and companies are responding and showing that they can compete with the best internationally.”


For more information please contact:

Press Office, Department of Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation: 01 – 631 2200 or

Notes to Editors:

Innovation Union Scoreboard 2015

Ireland’s overall innovation performance is above the EU average and is ranked 8th out of 28, placing Ireland in the second tier of countries, designated the “Innovation Followers”. This is the second year in a row in which Ireland’s ranking has improved: up from 9th in 2014 and 10th in 2013.

Based on the average innovation performance, Member States fall into four different performance groups:
1.        Denmark, Finland, Germany and Sweden are “Innovation leaders” with innovation performance well above that of the EU average – Sweden tops this ranking;
2.        Austria, Belgium, France, Ireland, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Slovenia and the UK are “Innovation followers” with innovation performance above or close to that of the EU average;
3.        The performance of Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia and Spain is below that of the EU average. These countries are “Moderate innovators”;
4.        Bulgaria, Latvia and Romania are “Modest innovators” with innovation performance well below that of the EU average.

While a direct comparison of Ireland’s performance in 2014 and 2015 (actual score, rather than ranking) is not possible due to changes in the measurement framework, an indirect comparison using adjusted data, carried out by the European Commission, indicates that Ireland had the largest increase in overall innovation performance among the western EU states and the fourth largest among the EU28.

Please see link to Innovation Union Scoreboard 2015 Report

Horizon 2020

Horizon 2020 is the current EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation. With a budget of nearly €80 billion, Horizon 2020 will run over seven years from 2014 – 2020. Horizon 2020 is the successor programme to FP7 (Framework Programme 7) and is the largest ever research and innovation programme in the EU. Horizon 2020 has a simpler structure than previous programmes with less red tape making is easier to apply.

Horizon 2020 is open to everyone including individual researchers, higher education institutions, research performing organisations and private industry including SMEs.

Enterprise Ireland leads the Irish Horizon 2020 Network consisting of 32 National Contact People and National Delegates from various research and industry agencies and Departments.

There are also financial supports for those who wish to apply available through Enterprise Ireland

Horizon 2020 aims to help achieve smart, sustainable and inclusive growth for Europe by focussing on three main areas:

  •    Excellent Science
  •    Industrial Leadership
  •    Societal Challenges

For more information please visit

The Government has set an ambitious target for Ireland in Horizon 2020 and the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (DJEI) is responsible for overseeing the development and implementation of the Horizon 2020 national strategy. DJEI chairs the Horizon 2020 High Level Group whose core role is to oversee the development and implementation of the Horizon 2020 national strategy. The Horizon 2020 HLG consists of members from across Departments and Agencies: Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine; Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources; Department of Education and Skills; Department of Environment, Community and Local Government; Department of Finance; Department of Health; Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport; DIT; Enterprise Ireland; Environmental Protection Agency; Health Research Board; Higher Education Authority; IDA Ireland; InterTradeIreland; IOTI; Irish Research Council; Irish Universities Association; Marine Institute; Permanent Representation of Ireland to the EU; Science Foundation Ireland; Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland and Teagasc.