A recent report by Cornell University, INSEAD, and the World Intellectual Property Organisation, has ranked Ireland eighth in a list of the world’s most innovative economies. Ireland’s success in achieving a spot in the top 10 would suggest that Ireland’s economy is continuing to recover positively. This was reinforced by Simon Harris, Minister of State for International Financial Services, who stated that the result ‘speaks to this Government’s commitment to rebuild our reputation on the global stage’ and it is evidence of ‘our recovery into a sustainable economy.’
However, recent events cause one to question Minister Harris’ statement. Firstly, when one considers that Ireland’s most popular universities, UCD and Trinity, continue to drop in the world university rankings, it leads to the question of just how employable are the graduates of what is apparently a ‘sustainable economy’? As the quality of Irish universities seems to decline so does the appeal of Irish graduates. Ironically, this negative impact on the economy is a reflection of the cuts which third-level institutions in Ireland have experienced in an attempt to restore the economy.
This is emphasised even further by the fact that the Web Summit, one of Ireland’ largest annual events which attracted 22,000 people last year, 90 per cent of this made up by people from abroad, will no longer be hosted in Dublin. This is going to leave a massive gap to fill in the hospitality industry and also effect the Irish start-up ‘scene’. After 5 years the Web Summit has decided to move things to Lisbon, and their reasons for it? Founder and CEO Paddy Cosgrave stated ‘we know now what it takes to put on a global technology gathering and we know that if Web Summit is to grow further, we need to find it a new home. Our attendees expect the best.’ Ireland is no longer good enough.
These events could represent significant blows to Ireland’s economy in terms of an employable graduate workforce and Ireland’s ability to act as an international host. They act as broader and more honest indicators of Ireland’s economic recovery, but with a can-do attitude like Minister Harris’ and the eighth spot in the world’s most innovative economies, surely we’ll be able to pull it out of the bag.
Words by Kate Weedy