2.13 The Knowledge Economy, R&D and Innovation Capacity
Expanding the knowledge economy is important for Limerick’s long-term growth and prosperity.
Factors to Drive the Knowledge Economy
Key factors that drive the knowledge economy include an educated and skilled population, technological infrastructure, foreign direct investment, an environment that encourages technology application and entrepreneurship and collaborative public and private research organisations and initiatives. Other factors that are important in order to retain and attract the highly mobile talent in the knowledge economy workforce centre on quality of life. These include the quality of the natural environment, the built environment, connectivity, housing, quality and accessible public services such as childcare, schools and healthcare and safety and tolerance of diversity. While Limerick has some strengths in quality of life factors of attractiveness, it also has some weaknesses. Lack of housing supply is a key weakness at present. Investment is also needed in other public (water services, transport, broadband) and social infrastructures (childcare, schools).
R&D Centres in Limerick
Research and Development (R&D) is a crucial component of sustainable economic activity, employment and societal well-being. The third level educational institutions in Limerick play a critical role in R&D and innovation through their research programmes working in collaboration with other academic institutions and industry. Of the Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Research Centres in the state, there are three where the lead institution is located in Limerick: LERO SFI Research Centre for Software at UL, SSPC SFI Research Centre for Pharmaceuticals, Bernal Institute UL and CONFIRM SFI Research Centre for SMART Manufacturing at Castletroy Digital District Limerick.
Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) payments to Limerick institutions were €29,420,000 in 2020. The main institutions were the University of Limerick, Technological University of the Shannon, Midlands Mid-West (TUS) and Mary Immaculate College. Limerick accounts for 14.8% of SFI grants awarded which represents an increase from 12.6% in 2016. The largest award for research from SFI in 2020 was to LERO of some €35.5 million.
 Data from Science Foundation Ireland. https://www.sfi.ie/about-us/governance/open-data/