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From bricks to brains: Increasing the contribution of knowledge-based capital to growth in Ireland

With sound framework conditions, fine universities, good infrastructure and policies friendly towards foreign direct investment, Ireland scores high in international innovation scoreboards. Overall, policies to boost innovation and entrepreneurship are on the right track, but investment in knowledge-based capital could be made a more dynamic source of growth and jobs. While Ireland has made good progress towards building up its scientific capabilities, innovation capacity remains weaker than in other small advanced OECD countries, such as Austria, Denmark, Sweden and Switzerland. To become more effective, the innovation strategy should be simplified, with a drastic reduction in the number of government agencies involved in funding innovation, so as to better focus on strengthening the linkages between the business and academic communities. While attracting high-tech multinationals should remain central, there is potential to better develop spillovers between these firms and domestic SMEs, notably by establishing applied research centres. Entrepreneurship should be fostered by improving the business environment, including access to non-bank finance, streamlining the insolvency regime and transfer of intellectual property rights, and upgrading the broadband network.

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