The role of physics in supporting economic growth and national productivity in Ireland

Ireland is a strong physics nation, home to international researchers and part of worldleading collaborations.

It is also a nation of businesses that have built significant success on physics knowledge and technologies.

The work presented here from the Centre for Economic and Business Research is the most comprehensive analysis of the role of physics in growth and productivity in Ireland ever undertaken. And it shows something that we always suspected: physics is not just the source of inventions and ideas, but also the means by which Ireland’s economic future can be secured.

The data shows that physics-based industries – by which we mean those that are critically dependent on physics knowledge and expertise – have huge impact, lots of jobs and frankly startling productivity.

This shows that the decisions made to protect science spending are paying dividends.

But we cannot pretend that it is all good news. The economic prosperity that physics brings does not happen without the continued support of the education, research and skills systems. The strength of physics-based business in Ireland is built on past investment in cutting-edge physics. Physics in Ireland has suffered cuts over the past 10 years and this can be seen in the recent changes in economic returns from physics-based business.

We know that it is often the basic, curiosity-driven research that inspires and underpins the applications and technologies of tomorrow.

If Ireland wants to have a high technology, high productivity, high prosperity economy for the future then it must continue to invest in physics today – in schools, research, higher and further education and in the businesses that take the fruits of physics.

The Institute of Physics is working with the community to ensure that the benefits of physics are maintained and the investments necessary for this are made.

Over the next two years we will strive to demonstrate the value of physics to those that hold the purse strings, encouraging them to strengthen physics and secure a bright future for us all.

The analysis we present here will inform that push.

Download the report