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Speech of An Taoiseach, Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund Monday, 10 December 2018

Check Against Delivery

Ministers, ladies and gentlemen,
Earlier this year, in February, we launched Project Ireland 2040, our ambitious plan for the future of our country.
Today we meet to announce the first round of funding under the €500 million Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund.
The fourth of four funds which are game-changers in the way we do things when it comes to capital investment and infrastructure spending in Ireland.
The best way of preparing for the future is by planning for it and investing in it now.

Project Ireland 2040

Over the next twenty years, the population of Ireland is expected to grow by 1 million people. We want to ensure that this growth is balanced, that all parts of the country share in the nation’s prosperity, and that we do it in a sustainable and climate friendly way.

Project Ireland 2040 is our way to achieve that. It is a plan like no other. Because it represents a radically different approach to planning for our future.
Project Ireland 2040 consists of a national spatial plan and a national Development Plan combined, backed up with real money. The money follows the plan.
It provides for massive increases in investment in our public infrastructure – housing, transport, broadband, education and healthcare.
An investment of €116 billion over ten years to remove bottlenecks, modernize our public services, reduce congestion, and ensure that economic development is brought to all parts of our country, and ensure that we have the capacity for future growth.
I know people hearing politicians talking about 10 year plans and 2040 can be sceptical. It sounds like the ‘long finger’ talking. But that’s not the case. Project Ireland 2040 is already being implemented. Next year alone there will be a 25% increase in infrastructure spending and you can already see the results all over the country:

  • New schools;
  • New primary care centres;
  • New Housing;
  • Road improvements; and
  • Cultural and sporting facilities.

So, what are our objectives? They are a shared set of goals which will deliver benefits to communities across the country:

  • compact growth in our villages, towns and cities. No more sprawl;
  • better accessibility to all parts of the country;
  • a strong economy;
  • a transition to sustainable energy;
  • strong rural communities – 200,000 more people living in rural Ireland by 2040;
  • access to quality childcare, education and health services; and,
  • enhanced amenities and heritage. 

In May, with my Ministerial colleagues, I launched four game-changing funds - a total investment of €4 billion. Together they represent a new and innovative approach to investment and capital spending in Ireland.
The €1 billion Rural Regeneration and Development Fund will enable towns, villages and rural areas to grow sustainably. It’s all about making Rural Ireland a more attractive place to stay if you’re from rural Ireland, move into if you’re not, or set up and run a business.
For example, the €2.8 million relocation of Kinsale Library, in Co. Cork. Projects such as this will dramatically improve the public realm and civic spaces in rural island, making them more attractive places to work, live and set up a business.
The €2 billion Urban Regeneration and Development Fund aims to achieve sustainable growth in Ireland’s cities and large urban centres, incentivising collaborative approaches to development by public and private sectors. Unleashing the potential of brownfield sites for city living rather than more suburban sprawl. Growing up not out.
For example, €1.8 million to transform a former school on Rutland Street in Dublin’s North East Inner City as a community hub, and €3.2 million to the Ballina Innovation Quarter in Mayo.
The €500 million Climate Action Fund is focusing on innovative projects with a strong focus on emission reduction interventions in the transport sector. Using technological advancements to combat climate change.
Projects funded included electrifying modes of transports, transforming heating systems and LED lighting.
The €500 million Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund – the reason we are here today - will drive collaboration among the research, education and enterprise sectors, and will help create the jobs and wealth of the future.
One of the more revolutionary aspects of these Funds is that they are competitive and open to a wide variety of partners. Bottom-up rather than top-down. If you have an idea to improve your area, develop new technologies, encourage climate action, you have the opportunity to make a real difference.
The creation of this fund is particularly timely when we consider the vast and rapid technological advancements that are taking place.
Today everything is faster, more efficient, and more easily accessible.
We must adapt to a future of greater digitalisation and automation. The Fourth Industrial Revolution will mean that today’s school children will be employed in jobs and industries that don’t exist yet.
Technology will also eliminate or transform existing occupations. A recent study estimated that the average Irish worker faced a 46% probability of their job being automated by the 2030s.
So we are currently developing a new Plan, the Future Jobs Initiative, to meet these challenges and ensure we assist industry to create and sustain good jobs for our people in light of future challenges and opportunities.
The Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund is central to the Future Jobs Programme. It’s our way of stimulating private investment in new technologies and ways of doing business, and building stronger links between higher education, multinationals and Irish SMEs.


Disruption can be a positive. And the projects being announced today have the potential to make a real difference.
They will also hit the ground running.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who applied to this, and to all four Funds.
Project Ireland 2040 is our plan.
Today shows how we will work together to achieve it.
It’s just a taste of what’s to come.
So thank you.