Jobs the top priority as Government commits to establishing National Health Innovation Hub in 2014

24th July 2014 - Richard Bruton TD

Independent Evaluation says Hub has the potential to be “avital component of national innovation infrastructure”

Government publishes 10th Action Plan for Jobs Quarterly Progress Report

24th July 2014

Job-creation is the Government’s No.1 priority, the Taoiseach, Tánaiste and Minister for Jobs said today (Thursday) as they published the Action Plan for Jobs tenth progress report.

The report was published as recent figures show that the unemployment rate is at its lowest level since early 2009, and jobs continue to be created at a rapid rate, although there remains a long way to go.

The Government also announced today that a National Health Innovation Hub with the potential to support hundreds of new companies and thousands of new jobs will be established in 2014, following the success of a Demonstrator project in Cork and an independent evaluation of its role.

The National Health Innovation Hub will be a win-win for businesses, the health system – and most importantly, for job-creation:

· Innovative Irish healthcare companies will for the first time be able to easily gain access to the health system to test their products and services, increasing the chances of developing commercial ideas and creating jobs

· The health system will be able to gain easy access to innovative companies who can provide solutions to the problems that it faces, making it cheaper and easier to deliver better health-care to more patients

The Hub will aim to support Irish businesses in the crucial pharmaceutical, medical devices and ICT sectors – which together account for over €140billion in annual exports.

The announcement came as the Government published the 10th Action Plan for Jobs quarterly progress report, showing that 123 out of 144 measures earmarked for completion during Q2 2014 have been implemented.

The system of public quarterly progress reports is a crucial part of the Action Plan for Jobs system – the Taoiseach, Tánaiste and Minister for Jobs holding themselves accountable in public on delivery every quarter ensures that implementation actually happens, in contrast with many high-profile plans in previous times.

Among the other Q2 measures delivered are:

· Launch of national Trading Online scheme, to help Irish retailers to win more business from the €6billion that Irish consumers spend online every year

· New measures to make it easier for SMEs to access procurement opportunities

· Started recruiting the 35 new staff as part of the IDA ‘Winning Abroad’ scheme which aims to place new IDA staff in overseas markets and create 10,000 additional jobs

· Legally dissolved 35 CEBs and established 31 Local Enterprise Offices to provide a first-stop-shop for enterprise supports in every county

· Opened applications for the €2million x-factor style county-based competition to find Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur, as part of a drive to encourage more people to start their own businesses. Over 900 applications have been received so far – details available at

· Established a Project Team to deliver the Year of Irish Design 2015

· Benchmarked Ireland for competitiveness against other countries, with a view to developing actions to further improve our international competitiveness

· Enacted legislation to establish the Strategic Banking Corporation Ireland (SBCI). This initiative will ultimately provide up to €4 billion in low cost funding for SMEs. The SBCI will source funds externally from KfW (Germany’s state development bank) and the European Investment bank (EIB) and lend them to SMEs through innovative loans.

· Completed design of the National Postcodes system, which will improve logistics efficiencies for retailers, particularly facilitating online trading and reducing the risk of purchasing fraud

The Taoiseach, Enda Kenny TD said: “The Government Statement of Priorities puts jobs at the top of the agenda. It is only by getting Ireland working again that we will see economic recovery felt nationwide. Creating new jobs is the great enabler of better living standards and a better future for working families. The Action Plan for Jobs is our key tool to achieve this. The unemployment rate is now the lowest it has been since early 2009 but that is not enough. The Government is committed to reducing the unemployment rate to below 10% by 2016 and to supporting 2.1 million jobs in the economy by 2020, replacing all of the jobs lost during the economic crisis. I’m also delighted that Government has approved the establishment of a National Health Innovation Hub in 2014 that will support new companies, jobs and medical services.”

The Tánaiste, Joan Burton TD said: “In our recent Statement of Priorities, the Taoiseach and I made clear that the ongoing task of economic repair would now be accompanied by an equal focus on social recovery. That social recovery starts with jobs, because secure and fairly paid work is the single best protection against poverty. That is why the Action Plan for Jobs is so critically important, because it places job creation at the centre of everything the Government does. The related Pathways to Work strategy, overseen by my Department, is playing a vital role in this process. Whereas the Action Plan is designed to accelerate the transition to a sustainable, jobs-rich economy, the Pathways strategy aims to ensure that as many as possible of those newly created jobs go to people on the Live Register. Unemployment is down from a crisis peak of 15.1% to 11.6% now, and while that remains too high, it is clear we are making firm and steady progress. The Government’s task now is to increase the pace of that progress.”

The Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton TD said: “The last three months have seen significant progress in job-creation. For example, IDA and Enterprise Ireland have published interim results showing job-creation is up between 10-20% on the same period last year. We have established 31 Local Enterprise Offices, to provide a better and more services to start-ups and SMEs at a local level. We have received over 900 applications for Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur, as part of a drive to encourage more people to start their own business. And today we are announcing the Health Innovation Hub is a major new initiative that will make it easier for Irish healthcare and ICT companies to commercialise their ideas and create jobs.”

“70,000 jobs have been added across the economy in the past 18 months. Every region and virtually every sector has felt the benefits. However there is a long way to go. The Action Plan for Jobs is the crucial mechanism we have for making the policy changes and providing the new supports that will allow businesses to create the jobs we need. There will be no let-up in our determination over the coming years to add 100,000 jobs by 2016, and replace all the jobs that were lost by 2020”.

Minister of State with Special Responsibility for Small Business Gerald Nash TD said: “One of the key objectives of the Action Plan for Jobs 2014 is to ensure that Irish businesses stop seeing online trading as a threat and more of an opportunity. Only a quarter of Irish micro-businesses trade online. With about 80% of the population online regularly, we need to get more Irish companies selling their services and products online, and that will be a very important focus in the period ahead.”


For further information, please contact:

Press Office: Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, 01 631 2200 or [email protected]/* */


National Health Innovation Hub
It has been recognised that a step change in innovation capacity and enhanced operational excellence are crucial requirements for the health/lifesciences sector in Ireland. A unique characteristic of this sector is the need for genuine collaboration between industry and the healthcare system to deliver economic growth, improved patient outcomes and lower healthcare services costs. Ireland is uniquely positioned to realise these advantages given its strength in the lifesciences and ICT sectors. Nine of the top 10 pharmaceutical companies in the world have a base in Ireland, as do eight of the top 10 medtech companies and eight of the top 10 software providers. There are 50,000 jobs in the lifesciences sector in Ireland alone and this sector accounts for half of Ireland’s merchandise exports, at over €56 billion per annum. Recent moves by world ICT providers, Google, Apple and Qualcomm into healthcare services point to the growing convergence opportunity around healthcare and health delivery and digital healthcare services are already a multi-billion dollar industry. Total ICT exports from Ireland reached €84.6 billion in 2013 – giving combined lifesciences and ICT exports of over €140 billion.
The Action Plan for Jobs 2013 contained seven “Disruptive Reforms” – a new category of high impact, cross cutting measures that were identified as having potential to have a significant impact on job creation, to support enterprises, or where Ireland can profit from a natural advantage or opportunity that presents itself to the economy. One of the Reforms is the establishment of a National Health Innovation Hub to drive collaboration between the health system and the enterprise sector leading to the development and commercialisation of new healthcare technologies, products and services emerging from within the health system and/or the enterprise sector.
Demonstrator Project
A Demonstrator (pilot) project was established, based in University College Cork, as a precursor to the establishment of a National Health Innovation Hub in order to test the Hub model. Six companies engaged with the Demonstrator on a first tranche of projects in 2012. These companies were selected on the basis of their potential to deliver efficiencies into the health system and their fit with the broader reform of the health system, as well as the economic impact in terms of company growth including export potential. A second call for proposals took place in December 2013, and included an ‘Open Call’ for applications from companies whose innovative projects and ideas have the potential to significantly address any area of the broad spectrum of healthcare sector needs, and a ‘Focused Call’ in Infection Control and Hygiene Management. In March 2014, 13 projects involving 16 companies (4 companies are collaborating on 1 project) were selected for participation in the second phase of the Demonstrator.

Independent Evaluation
The Demonstrator project was implemented on a small controlled scale to allow for its full impact, benefits and weaknesses to be evaluated before the implementation on a scaled up basis of a National Healthcare Innovation Hub. In this context, an independent evaluation was commissioned in early 2014 by Enterprise Ireland (EI. The evaluation examined progress of the Demonstrator project to date. In addition, international comparisons were conducted with the aim of seeking ideas for improvements which might enhance the concept and to identify potential benchmarks for future performance of the national hub.
The evaluation arrived at the conclusion that the Health Innovation Hub has potential to be a vital component of national innovation infrastructure and its value has been recognised by the relevant stakeholders in the healthcare sector. Companies highly value the opportunities presented. Leveraging our healthcare system with industry to create solutions for export is a major national opportunity and underpins our value proposition for lifesciences. Healthcare – a key global market – requires innovation derived from clinical validation by healthcare professionals in real world settings. The initiative nurtures the development of new technologies for the global marketplace in Ireland and in doing so will create jobs and exports. The appetite in industry for the initiative is further demonstrated by the level of applications from companies (over 40) for the second call for proposals, including interest from outside the jurisdiction. Healthcare staff and management recognise the opportunity it presents to both address their own needs, and to support emerging companies. The initiative will bring improvements to the healthcare system with a clear emphasis on better patient outcomes, improved efficiencies, cost reduction to HSE, along with a culture of innovation. It will also support the adoption and commercialisation of new innovations developed by healthcare practitioners from within the healthcare system.
Action Plan for Jobs Tenth Progress Report

This is the tenth report from the Monitoring Committee established by Government to monitor and drive implementation of the measures contained in the Action Plan for Jobs 2014. It outlines progress made on measures due for completion in the second quarter of 2014. The Monitoring Committee comprises representatives of the Department of the Taoiseach, the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, Forfás, and the Office of the Tánaiste. The high-level goal of the Action Plan for Jobs, first introduced in 2012, is to create the environment where the number of people at work will have increased by 100,000 by 2016 (from a 2012 base), and will have reached 2.1 million people by 2020.

The Government published the third in its multi-annual Action Plan for Jobs series in February this year. This Plan, which contains 385 actions to be implemented in 2014 by all 16 Government Departments and by 46 agencies, will build on the progress made in 2012 and 2013 and continue to improve supports for job-creating businesses and remove the barriers to employment-creation across the economy. These actions are additional to the over 500 actions already implemented cumulatively under Action Plan for Jobs 2012 and 2013, and reported on by the Monitoring Committee in its previous eight quarterly reports (see

Six of the seven Disruptive Reforms introduced in 2013 will be progressed further in 2014 as these are multi-annual initiatives (Big Data/Analytics; ICT Skills; Integrated Licensing Application Service; Trading Online; Energy Efficiency; and National Health Innovation Hub). The Jobs Plus initiative, launched in 2013, has already been mainstreamed and has proven particularly impactful. Three new Disruptive Reforms have been introduced in 2014: Entrepreneurship; Winning Abroad; and Manufacturing: National Step Change. In total, there are nine Disruptive Reforms to be advanced in 2014.

Overall, the 2014 Plan aims to create the environment where the number of people at work will increase by 100,000 by 2016, and reach 2 million people by 2020. While unemployment remains high, there are signs of progress in the labour market. The latest data shows that there was an annual increase in employment of 2.3% or 42,700 in the year to the first quarter of 2014, bringing total employment to 1,888,200. The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate has decreased from 15.1% in February 2012 to 11.6% in June 2014.

Actions due in Quarter 2

In the second quarter of 2014, Departments and agencies were to deliver 144 measures relating to 119 of the Action Plan’s 385 actions. Some 123 of the measures due in Quarter 2 of 2014 have been delivered.

In delivering 123 second quarter measures under the Plan, the Government has, for example:

As part of Disruptive Reform 1 – Entrepreneurship

· Legally dissolved the County Enterprise Boards and established 31 Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) fully integrated within the Local Authorities.

· Launched the new LEO website to provide a comprehensive range of information on all national and local enterprise supports to people interested in starting up a new business or already in business.

· Developed a range of programmes and initiatives under the Competitive Feasibility Fund (CFF) and Competitive Start Fund (CSF) including bootcamps, mentoring and peer-to-peer learning to support Youth Entrepreneurship.

As part of Disruptive Reform 2 – Winning Abroad

· Commenced the recruitment process for IDA Ireland to deploy additional resources in strategic locations overseas, including in new emerging markets, with the goal of intensifying FDI employment growth.

· Put a Project Team in place to develop and implement a work programme to deliver the Year of Irish Design 2015.

As part of Disruptive Reform 3 – Manufacturing: National Step Change

· Launched a national award scheme to recognise human resource initiatives by best-in-class manufacturing businesses.

· Launched, through SFI, a call for the recruitment of a number of world leading scientists and engineers in areas such as Manufacturing, Bio-manufacturing and Medical Devices and Medical Technologies.

· Promoted the use of the LEAN guide during 6 Road Show information events to more than 400 businesses, mostly SMEs.

As part of Disruptive Reform 4 – Big Data and Data Analysis

· Approved funding for the further expansion of the Insight Research Centre through the SFI “Spokes” Call.

· Launched a national Open Data initiative in the context of Ireland’s adoption of the G8 Open Data Charter.

· Enacted the Health Identifiers Bill which will provide a legal framework for the introduction of an individual identifier for use in the health system

As part of Disruptive Reform 7 – Trading Online

· Developed an awareness campaign to improve quality applications to the Trading Online Voucher Scheme from small businesses all over the country.

As part of Disruptive Reform 9 – National Health Innovation Hub

· Completed the evaluation of the Healthcare Innovation Hub’s Cork Demonstrator Project.

· Agreed to the establishment of a National Health Innovation Hub that would be tasked with proactively developing, managing, and progressing relationships and connections with industry and the health system.

And more broadly, in Quarter 2 the Government has, for example:

· Undertaken a competitiveness benchmarking exercise to determine how Ireland performs in terms of international competitiveness across a range of indicators compared to key competitors including in particular within the Eurozone – Action 91.

· Developed integrated local economic and community plans, to promote economic and community development in each local authority area – Action 116.

· Developed through Science Foundation Ireland strategic partnerships with key scientific and research institutions in Northern Ireland and agreed new approaches for engaging in EU Horizon 2020 – Action 142.

· Delivered Smart Futures as a national collaborative government, industry and education framework to raise the awareness of STEM career opportunities for post-primary students – Action 149.

· Rolled out 2014 call for proposals for the ICT graduate skills conversion and Springboard programmes – Action 159.

· Published the 2013 Higher Education System Performance Report – Action 173.

· Implemented a pilot Post Graduate Programme of Professional Practice to provide an opportunity for graduates to acquire cross disciplinary skills in STEM based sectors – Action 174.

· Announced the establishment of the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) which will ultimately provide up to €4 billion in low cost funding for SMEs based on an initiative with KfW, the German Ministry of Finance and other international partners– Action 212.

· Implemented the Communications Strategy developed by the SME State Bodies Group, as part of which the Supporting SMEs online tool, providing SMEs with a guide to the State supports, was launched – Action 221.

· Run a Food Academy to nurture start up food businesses through workshop style training and assistance with routes to market – Action 262.

· Used the Bord Bia Food Graduate development programmes to attract graduate talent into agricultural sector while improving sales and developing commercial marketing skills – Action 266.

· Achieved high level official contact in China and Korea to deliver targeted new markets, (DAFM) and worked to enable Irish export plants access to the U.S.A. beef market – Action 270.

· Published a new comprehensive Code of Practice for retrofitting of homes to deliver growth in the sector by raising quality and standards – Action 298.

· Worked with local communities to translate the Gathering’s legacy into sustainable employment opportunities – Action 336.

· Completed the design of the Postcode system – Action 348.

However, as stated above, 21 of the measures outlined in the Plan have not been delivered on schedule:

· Publish the National Entrepreneurship Policy Statement – Action 1. The consultation process and the drafting of the Policy Statement is ongoing. The final draft will be completed in Q3 and presented to the Government for approval to publish.

· Enact the Legal Services Bill to deliver a more efficient, transparent and competitive legal services in Ireland and reduce costs for the enterprise sector – Action 98. The Legal Services Bill Committee Stage in the Dáil was completed in February 2014, and the Report Stage began in July. The intention is to complete the passage of the Bill for enactment in Q4 so that the new Legal Services Regulatory Authority can come into operation early in 2015.

· Develop a strategy to support and develop commercial accelerators in the entrepreneurial ecosystem – Action 11. There has been significant progress made in developing the strategy but it is unlikely to be completed before Q4. It is expected that the implementation will commence in Q4 shortly after the strategy has been finalised.

· Consult around the development of a National Intelligent Transport Systems Strategy – Action 106. While background research has been undertaken and initial discussions with key stakeholders have taken place, the tendering process to recruit external specialists is still underway. Once the specialists are in place in August, further and more in-depth stakeholder consultations will get underway which are expected to be completed by end Q3 2014. It is planned that the draft and final strategies will be delivered as scheduled in Q4 2014 and Q1 2015.

· Roll-out Competitive Regional Feasibility funds to the South East – Action 14. The Regional Competitive Feasibility Fund for the Cork Region was launched in March 2014. Due to the timing of that launch and the evaluation period required it has meant that the remaining launches in the South East and Mid West Regions will be rolled out slightly later than originally scheduled. A Regional Competitive Feasibility Fund to the South East Region will be launched in Q3 of 2014.

· Establish an Independent Economic Regulator for the Rail Market (assignment of additional functions to the Railway Safety Commission) – Action 108. A requirement to draft other secondary legislation which was the subject of infringement proceedings has delayed delivery of this action. Drafting of the legislation is now underway and it is anticipated that the Economic Regulator for the rail market will be established in Q3 of 2014.

· Launch a pilot entrepreneurship internship programme whereby a young person interested in starting their own business can shadow an entrepreneur – Action 16. A suitable structure for delivery of the proposed programme is currently being considered. The pilot programme will be ready for launch in Q3.

· Publish Bi-annual Strategic Investment Portfolio Reports – Action 211. Monitoring of the National Pension Reserve Fund (NPRF) SME Fund is ongoing and the NPRF/ISIF is currently exploring additional SME fund opportunities that could complement those already in place. A report on the economic measuring of the performance of the NPRF commitments ahead of the establishment of the ISIF is being prepared by the NPRF and is expected in Q3.

· Build upon and roll-out a LEAN Start Initiative to micro manufacturing firms, providing guidance on Lean, facilitating self-assessment and signposting to other relevant services/training – Action 50. In 2014, the focus in relation to the LEOs has been on establishing a comprehensive LEO website and developing a Customer Service Charter, all of which have been successfully delivered. The second half of 2014 will look to those micro manufacturing firms that will benefit from a Lean initiative with EI providing strategic guidance to those firms on the Lean principles.

· Publish the general scheme of a planning bill to implement planning provisions of Mahon Tribunal – Action 306. General Schemes for two Planning Bills are currently being finalised. Both will go to Government for approval in Quarter 3, 2014, prior to publication of General Schemes.

· Publish a policy statement on planning outlining an overarching planning policy – Action 306. Preparation of an overarching statement of planning policy has commenced and will go to Government for approval in Quarter 3, 2014, prior to simultaneous publication with either or both of the general schemes of the Planning No. 1 and No. 2 Bills.

· Strengthen current international strategic partnerships (China, Brazil, India and Japan) and enhance Ireland’s reputation as a location for world class research – Action 143 (Will not be delivered). The International Strategic Cooperation Award (ISCA) 2014 has not launched as originally planned with new partner countries. Current consortia (Brazil, China, India and Japan) hold active awards until 2015 and 2016 and these will continue to be funded. The decision has been taken to focus on ensuring success in these partnerships and on international engagement in Europe through Horizon 2020.

· Roll-out HAP Wave 1 in 6 local authorities (in addition to Limerick) – Action 201. Preparations for the Wave 1 roll-out are underway. HAP will be implemented in the 6 Wave 1 sites based on the full HAP Scheme on enactment of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2014.

· Develop a pilot bank referral programme for Microfinance Ireland (MFI) – Action 209. The delay in progressing this action is due to the change in CEO in Microfinance Ireland (MFI); the former CEO had initiated contacts with the banks on this subject and the new CEO will pursue this as a matter of urgency.

· Develop a project brand and marketing/communication material including website on Ireland’s expertise in the provision of public agri-food support services – Action 271. Due to a delay in appointing the Project Director this action will now be completed by the end of Q3.

· Approve and sign the Commencement Order for Construction Contracts Act legislation – Action 328. Arrangements are being made to ensure that there is no potential for conflict between the Department’s role in publishing the public works contracts and the appointment of adjudicators to payment disputes. Proposals will be made to the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform and stakeholder consultation will commence shortly.

· Work with retail representative bodies to ensure that they are fully aware of the NAMA guidelines – Action 345. Following the outcome of a recent Supreme Court case concerning the interpretation of a lease which contained an upward only rent review clause, the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation is now reviewing how best to proceed with the Q2 commitment.

· Introduce commencement orders as necessary for the aviation services centre in Shannon, on enactment of the Shannon Group Bill – Action 368. Following enactment of the Shannon Group Act, orders will be made under section 28 of the new Act to transfer the shareholdings which the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (and his nominees) currently hold in Shannon Airport Authority and Shannon Development to Shannon Group. This will be completed in Q3.

· Establish (initially within HSE) an entity called eHealth Ireland in line with strategy – Action 379. The governance arrangements for eHealth Ireland have been agreed within the HSE management structures. The HSE expects a Committee to oversee the operation of eHealth Ireland to be in place later this year.

· Appoint a CIO for the Irish health care system to lead eHealth Ireland – Action 379. Approval for the post of CIO/Chief Officer eHealth Ireland issued to the HSE on 14th April 2014. The post was publicly advertised on 30 May 2014. The recruitment process, managed by the PAS, is currently in train.

· Establish first eHealth ecosystem meeting and requisite longer term supporting structures – Action 379. Assuming the recruitment of the CIO is successful, the Chief Information Officer/Chief Officer eHealth Ireland will work with the Department of Health to establish the first eHealth Ecosystem.

“Ongoing” actions to be delivered throughout 2014

The Action Plan contains some 117 measures that are described in the plan as “ongoing in 2014”. Although not due in any specific quarter, Departments and Agencies with responsibility for actions listed as “ongoing in 2014” report progress on them to the Monitoring Committee for this and the quarter four report. In progressing these “ongoing” actions the Government has, for example:

· Rolled out a schedule of Trade Missions and other trade, tourism, investment and education events focussed on key target markets. During Q2, Ministerial led Trade/ Investment Missions and Events were organised to the UK, Saudi Arabia, Oman, USA, Qatar, Switzerland, China and Korea – Action 40.

· Launched a further round of Springboard in June 2014 providing up to 6,100 places for unemployed people on a range of part-time courses from certificate to master’s degree levels – Levels 6 to 9 on the National Framework of Qualifications – Action 69.

· Supported 83 Better Energy Communities energy projects which received €28m in financial support, resulting in substantial improvements in homes, community buildings, local authority premises and sports facilities throughout Ireland – Action 79.

· Introduced a range of policy and regulatory measures to assist in the commercial roll-out of high speed broadband. The commercial sector is now investing approximately €2bn in the telecommunications sector, with the provision of high speed services to homes and businesses significantly exceeding the targets industry set when the National Broadband Plan was published – Action 101.

· Published the Further Education and Training Strategy 2014 – 2019. This Strategy reflects the priorities as set out in the Action Plan for Jobs in relation to the Skills for Work programme and across the ETB delivered adult basic education programmes – Action 164.

· Delivered a series of large scale employer briefing events to promote employment/recruitment supports available to employers. A total of six

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