Brain drain is not the end

Seán O’Connell finds reason to be hopeful about Ireland’s future economy, as research and technology remain strong.

Amidst the doom and gloom of Ireland’s economic woes it is sometimes difficult to remind people of the strengths we still possess. Our current economic difficulties are far from over, and numbers of people, particularly young people, emigrating seem to be increasing all the time. We don’t appear to have much to get excited about. IBEC’s recently-released “Ireland by the Numbers” video aims to  provide some hope. It is far from a life-changing experience, however at just over three minutes long it does cite some interesting facts and statistics about Ireland’s economy that many are sure to find surprising.


Irish politicians have for many years been selling our country as a destination with a well educated and enterprising work force. This is clearly evident as we play host to 8 of the top 10 software companies, 8 of the top 10 pharmaceutical companies and 15 of the top 25 medical devices companies worldwide. Amongst those currently recruiting in these fields is Google which recently announced an expansion of its Dublin headquarters. In total, Ireland is home to 960 foreign companies employing 138,000 workers


Our home grown enterprise is also highlighted. Of the 160 medical technology companies operating in Ireland half are indigenous and we export €6.9 billion in medical devices. One example of these companies is Crospon, a medical devices company founded in Galway in 2006. It recently received FDA approval for one of its novel surgical imaging devices and plans to expand into the US market.


Irish research centers have an excellent international reputation and their achievements over 2010 are too numerous to list. One highlight is the success of Professor Jean-Pierre Colinge of Cork’s Tyndall National Institute who was awarded Science Foundation Ireland’s ‘Researcher of the Year 2010′ in November. His team fabricated the worlds first junctionless transistor, a move predicted to revolutionise nanoelectronics manufacturing and the semiconductor industry.


Irish ingenuity is anything but a modern phenomenon. Irish men and women are credited with the invention of, among other things, color photography, the submarine, the binaural stethoscope and the portable defibrillator. Irish people are also credited with the discovery of radiotherapy, pulsars and explaining why the sky is blue.


A survey conducted last year on an EU-wide scale found us to be the most pessimistic regarding our countries finances and perhaps we were right. Having witnessed such a dramatic decline in the building and related industries and the failure of our unsinkable banks no one can be blamed for pessimism. However these are dark times, not the end times, and the future success stories in our fair country will still probably be written by those now graduating.


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