EVERY euro invested in Lero, the University of Limerick software research centre, generates more than five times its value to the economy, a major new study has revealed.
The research carried out by the Kemmy Business School at UL assessed the economic impact of Lero, which is funded by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) as well as by contracts from Irish and international technology corporations. The report found that over the past three years, every €1 invested by public funding agencies and industry partners in Lero contributed €5.25 to the Irish economy.
This represents a contribution by Lero to national gross output of more than €515 million during this period. The research also found that Lero’s economic activity has contributed to the creation of 2,678 jobs nationally.
“In summary, the report finds that Lero has made a significant economic contribution to the Irish economy,” commented Professor Helena Lenihan, economist at the Kemmy Business School and co-author of the report.
“There is little doubt that Lero provides other benefits such as boosting software knowledge and positioning Ireland as a key part of the State infrastructure which attracts Foreign Direct Investment and supports local industry. However, this report focuses solely on the ripple effects of Lero’s expenditure in the economy, which shows a strong knock-on economic impact.”
Professor Brian Lucey at Trinity Business School, who was consulted on the report, said that the results represent evidence of the wider economic benefits of investing in publicly funded scientific research and that cost-benefit analysis of State expenditure should be encouraged.
Lero is part of the world-leading SFI Research Centre network. Since 2005, it has received €98.69 million from national funding agencies including Science Foundation Ireland, the EU and industry.
It is home to more than 200 researchers across all seven Irish universities and two Institutes of Technology. Its research covers a wide range of software development from driverless cars and automation to artificial intelligence and cybersecurity.
Stating that education and research were vital for national competitiveness. Lero Director Professor Brian Fitzgerald added that the Kemmy Report demonstrated that Lero has a positive impact on the Irish economy and this was a tribute to the work of Lero research teams across the country.
“As well as its economic impact, Lero compares highly favourably with similar research centres internationally. Lero research is cited 96 per cent more times than the expected norm for the field, 31 per cent is published in the top ten most cited journals and 21 per cent in the top ten most cited papers in the sector.”
“It supports our goal to help establish Ireland as a location synonymous with high quality software development, to the extent that ‘Irish software’ can enter the lexicon in the same way as ‘German automotive’ or ‘Scandinavian design’.”
Welcoming the findings, Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government, said: “Science Foundation Ireland invests in world-class scientific research with deep and significant enterprise engagement, excellence and impact. It is gratifying to note the more than five times economic multiplier impact from investment in the Lero SFI Research Centre in what is an increasingly important sector globally.”
A copy of the report can be downloaded from: https://www.lero.ie/research/economic-impact/kbs-study
by Tom McCullough