Jan 09 2009

Irish Government Research Investment

Category: Fourth LevelTeknovis @ 8:56 am

It is great to read that the Irish Government has just announced that it is to invest a further €300 million in research in €300m for cutting-edge research. I think that this type of investment is needed to ensure that Ireland remains a significant location for business in the future.

I also think that this is quite a brave mood for a very unpopular government, especially as many other more visible services are being cut to reduce costs.

However, there is something that concerns me about this announcment.

The funding will be targeted at developing buildings and other infrastructure for research.

Why invest in buildings? Buildings will not help the economy! Indeed, many would argue that the focus on building over the last few years is a significant cause of the current financial problems.

Furthermore, is there not already an oversupply of commercial property in Ireland at the moment?

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4 Responses to “Irish Government Research Investment”

  1. tibo says:

    buildings … construction industry … Fianna Fáil … hummm I think I found the link. The weakest one.

  2. Aaron Quigley says:

    There isn’t an oversupply of space on campus especially where I work in UCD. We are in a research lab of over 200 which is currently housed in one of the “commercial properties” you mention. This is a stop gap solution at best.

    1. They have tried to retrofit a commercial building which should be open plan for people who need offices + open plan space + research experiment space etc.. It’s not ideal and will cost €€ to fix up when we leave.

    2. We are close to UCD but not on the campus. (close but no cigar, so to speak)

    3. The rent is *not* cheap.

    4. We are in an office park which is not a University ie. the lecture halls, library, admin offices, sport centre, our colleagues etc.. are quite far away. I only see undergrads when I go to the main campus to teach. This is a real shame for me and them as I miss the interaction.

    Don’t get me wrong, it’s great that UCD can accommodate us at all. Our school and many others here are bursting at the seams but if you want to move to a knowledge based economy with lots of research, lots of postgrads, lots of undergrad research experience, lots of spin offs etc. it needs space.

    It needs space on campus, in well designed, well thoughtout, well positioned areas for staff, students (under and postgrad) and space to incubate.

    Building for building sake is a waste (I used to live in Japan, I know!) but honestly we in UCD and I can see it in many other Universities have a real need for new buildings to accommodate the next generation of research and developments in the next decade.

    In this case buildings will help!

    Dr. Aaron Quigley, UCD.

  3. Teknovis says:

    Aaron: I agree that it would be much better to have purpose built buildings on campus. However, given that there is a limited amount of money available for research investment, it seems wasteful to spend it on buildings.

    Perhaps the university should borrow money to create new buildings, and then collect rent from research groups. The advantage of this approach is the the majority of the government’s money will actually be spent on research!

  4. Laia says:

    I have to agree with Aaron regarding getting better facilities. I am a postgrad in UCD and we really need to get better infrastructure. We were lucky enough to get our lab refurbish a year ago but as money ran out it had to do the best it could. The result is that the lab temperature in winter is 15 Degrees as it has no money to install a new heating system or get better windows. This week the ice machine in my department broke down. The school does not have the 800€ to repair it. This means that we have to go to Chemistry (another building) to get ice. In a molecular lab it is very difficult to work without ice, probably we are lucky now as the temperature is so low. All of these conditions make it very difficult to attract new researchers. This is why money must be invested in buildings.