Minister of State with responsibility for Public Procurement, Open Government and eGovernment, Patrick O’Donovan TD, today (Sunday 10th March 2019) added his support to the Government’s Future Jobs Ireland 2019 – Preparing Now for Tomorrow’s Economy strategy, specifically the elements relating to digital and technology.
Future Jobs Ireland 2019 is a whole-of-government framework created to help build Ireland’s economic resilience by encouraging greater levels of productivity and innovation, upskilling and retraining workers, ensuring broader participation in the labour market and planning for digital and low-carbon transitioning.
Given his eGovernment responsibilities, Minister O’Donovan was particularly keen that the strategy articulate the opportunities that emerging technology offer Ireland in terms of job creation and GDP growth.
Minister O’Donovan said:
“As part of my role in Government, I have had the opportunity to meet some of the brightest young talent in the country, to speak to some of the country’s leading technology companies and to research the use of technology in other countries. I am convinced that even though Ireland has a wonderful reputation as a technology powerhouse, due to the success of our education system, our strong indigenous sector and our ability to attract most of the leading global technology companies, we can do even better”.
“If we want Ireland to be a leader in technology adoption and digitalisation, then Government itself must lead by example. The public service must fully embrace digital transformation to modernise its front and back office processes, making our public services more efficient and responsive to citizens’ and businesses’ needs. We also need to continue to invest in the use of existing and emerging technologies to improve the delivery of services across sectors such as education and policing. In particular, health is an area with substantial untapped benefits that can be realised through increased digitalisation”.
“I believe we can do this using the concept of GovTech (Government Technology). A focus on GovTech means promoting greater interaction between Government, academia, industry and investment in how we leverage the use of digital technology within Government so that the public and enterprises can conduct their business with the public service faster and at a reduced cost, while the public service can provide improved and expanded services to all customers in a cost-effective way for the Exchequer. GovTech can also help drive an innovation agenda within Government and for the SME community with which it engages”.
“I was therefore delighted to get the support of my colleagues in making GovTech a key theme in the new Strategy and I plan to set up a GovTech Summit by the middle of this year to discuss in detail with various stakeholders how Ireland might lead Europe in this emerging opportunity. I then plan to bring a paper back to Government by the end of this year”.
“I have already received considerable interest in and support for this initiative which, I believe, could represent a step change for both Government and the Technology industry in Ireland”.
**Notes to the Editor:*
- GovTech has been described as being “about applying emerging technologies (such as artificial intelligence, advanced sensing, blockchain, advanced data processing, etc.) to improve the delivery of public services through increasing efficiency and lowering costs”.
- Governments tend to have more specific requirements than most sectors, i.e. in many cases the needs cannot be met by off the shelf packages. Governments also have obligations that are very distinct from other sectors, e.g. Governments can’t pick and choose their customers. Start-up companies are often best placed to meet those requirements at competitive pricing but the nature of Government procurements often discriminates against such companies due to their scale and lack of maturity.
A successful GovTech initiative can create an eco-system in which:
- governments think differently about procurement in order to attract more innovative solutions to meet their needs
- start-ups can use the “safety” of Government contracts/relationships to invest in the development of ideas and attract the interest of venture capitalists
- venture capitalists, by investing in opportunities with strong potential, can help create an indigenous start-up eco-system that can grow rapidly in strength, influence and profitability
- governments can create a good balance between indigenous and multi-national technology companies.
Dublin, not surprisingly, is developing a natural eco-system that could align very well with GovTech principles. However, GovTech can also help re-balance the Tech economy by creating a support eco-system that might benefit start-ups in other parts of the country.