Physics and the Economy – Ireland findings
Our insights for the Republic of Ireland, part of a project that measured the performance and growth of the physics sector between 2010-2019.
Physics is underpinning growth and innovation in the Irish economy. Physics-based industries (PBIs) are diverse, including businesses in the telecoms, manufacturing, computing, energy, and pharma sectors. They contribute €29bn (£25.4bn) to Ireland’s gross value added and 9% of its gross domestic product.
With a turnover of €80bn, PBIs are larger than construction and retail combined (€69bn).
PBIs represent over 20,000 businesses and employ nearly 200,000 people. From 2010-2019 PBI employment grew by 41% - more three times faster than the UK (13%) and providing jobs with an average salary of €59,000.
The future of growth and innovation will be built upon research and development (R&D), and this is where PBIs show their central importance to Ireland’s economic future. PBIs account for 40% of all Irish R&D with physics-based manufacturing contributing 76% of that. A roadmap to ensure this R&D pipeline is maintained and grown is vital for Ireland’s economic ambitions.
This drive for innovation and growth will create significant demand for physics skills and entirely new jobs so it essential that the education and training system equips people with physics knowledge and skills for the jobs of tomorrow and removing the barriers that discourage or prevent many underserved groups from pursuing physics-rich academic and vocational education pathways.
Without continued investment in the physics sector and its R&D activities, Ireland risks missing out on the substantial economic returns the sector generates. The government must continue its progress to meet the R&D investment target of 2.5% of gross national income by 2030.