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The hard reality of the Irish software industry

Posted on by Will Goodbody

Around half of all software vacancies here are filled through inward migration

Around half of all software vacancies here are filled through inward migration

By Will Goodbody, Science & Technology Correspondent

@willgoodbody

Warnings about a skills shortage in the IT sector are nothing new. We’ve been hearing them for years now, mostly from the industry itself. Nor are they unique to Ireland. Because as the internet flourishes and technology becomes ubiquitous, the global demand for IT skills is rocketing, everywhere. Indeed the manpower shortage will be a little shy of 1 million people by the end of next year in Europe alone, according to a recent estimate from the European Commission.

But when an in-depth academic study of the software industry in Ireland finds the problem is so severe that thousands of new jobs set to be created by Irish based businesses over the coming months and years could end up in foreign countries, it’s worth taking note. Particularly at a time when unemployment remains close to 12%.

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Can Noonan stay cautious over cuts?

Posted on by David Murphy

Michael Noonan has to decide the extent of cuts in Budget 2015

Michael Noonan has to decide the extent of cuts in Budget 2015

By Business Editor David Murphy

There is an interesting dynamic unfolding as the lobby groups bombard the Department of Finance with their demands regarding the upcoming Budget.

In some respects, there is a race to the bottom to recommend the smallest amount which might be needed in extra taxes and spending cuts. Continue reading

Five things we learned at ESOF 2014

Posted on by Will Goodbody

CERN DG Rolf-Dieter Heuer speaking to RTÉ News at ESOF

CERN DG Rolf-Dieter Heuer speaking to RTÉ News at ESOF 2014

By Will Goodbody, Science & Technology Correspondent, in Copenhagen

@willgoodbody

For those addicted to science, ESOF 2014 in Copenhagen was the perfect fix. For six days, the Danish capital was transformed into a city of science, attracting around 4,500 delegates from all over the world. There were hundreds of lectures, discussions, exhibitions, demonstrations and side events, on science itself, the policies underpinning it, the careers around it, the links to business and even the art the flows from it.

Science is all about discovery, and while at ESOF we found out many things over the course of the week. Among them:

1. CERN: Ireland seems to be inching closer to joining CERN – or at least that’s what the Director General of the European particle physics centre seems to think. On Monday, Rolf-Dieter Heuer told us he was seeing positive signals from Ireland about our possible membership. Of course, that may be optimistic thinking on his behalf. We’ll hopefully know more in the coming months, when the government review of Ireland’s membership of international scientific and research bodies is complete.

2. ERC: The EU’s main frontier research funding arm, the European Research Council, still thinks Irish scientists are not doing well enough when it comes to winning grants from it. The ERC levelled the same criticism at us two years ago when ESOF was in Dublin. But it seems, from the council’s perspective, little has changed in the interim. Interestingly its President, Professor Jean-Pierre Bourguignon, claimed part of the blame may lie with Ireland’s policy on science funding, which he suggested could be too heavily weighted towards research that yields jobs. That’s likely to be the feeling of scientists here, many of whom feel they are held back by our focus on commercialisation. Undoubtedly, the government would disagree.

3. Advisors: Until this week, the various chief scientific advisors to governments around Europe had never met formally. It’s hard to believe, isn’t it, given the pivotal role science and innovation plays in the European economy, and the key part the advisors would play in the event of a cross-border crisis? Like for example the contamination of beef products with horsemeat. This week they met for the first time at ESOF after Anne Glover, the European Commission’s first chief scientific advisor, finally managed to get the European Science Advisers’ Forum (ESAF) up and running. The idea is that it will lead to a more evidence based approach to scientific decisions taken in Europe. That can only be a good thing.

4. Museum: Dublin is badly missing a proper permanent venue where young and old can explore science, like the magnificent Experimentarium in Copenhagen. Dublin is fortunate to have the Science Gallery, which has small but excellent rolling exhibitions focused on the collision of science, innovation and art. But Dublin badly lacks a permanent centre of interactive scientific exploration, experimentation and discovery, like London’s Science Museum and Belfast’s W5.

5. Scientists love to party: Science is often unfairly labeled as being populated by boring nerds, who like nothing more than a quiet night in, with a good scientific journal, and a glass of fizzy water. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. And one of my abiding memories of ESOF 2014 will be seeing a conga line made up of around 150 scientists snaking its way around the Copenhagen venue where the official ESOF night party was taking place!

Bank inquiry hobbled before it begins

Posted on by David Murphy

leinster-houseIt is still some months before the bank inquiry will commence public hearings – but what we are learning about its scope and design gets worse by the week.

The latest blow is that the investigation won’t be able to probe Cabinet discussions on the night of the bank guarantee in September 2008. Continue reading

ESOF 2014: What to expect

Posted on by Will Goodbody

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By Will Goodbody, Science & Technology Correspondent

@willgoodbody

Robotic warfare. Big data. The Arctic. Drugs. Mining the Moon. Smart pills. Antibiotic resistance.

Just a tiny handful of the weighty topics that will be grappled with in Copenhagen over the coming week, as the Euroscience Open Forum (ESOF) 2014 gets underway.

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Taxdodger News – Brussels edition

Posted on by Sean Whelan

The European Commission has tax policy in its sights

By Economics Correspondent Sean Whelan

The Brussels Economic Forum was on earlier this week: I was there hoping to hear ideas on how to refloat the European economy.

Meanwhile across the road, the European Commission opened a new front on Ireland’s corporate tax system. Continue reading

Netflix and the battle for net-neutrality

Posted on by Will Goodbody

Netflix is one of many companies opposed to an ending of net-neutrality

Netflix is one of many companies opposed to an ending of net-neutrality

By Will Goodbody, Science & Technology Correspondent

@willgoodbody

The latest monthly index from movie and TV streaming, Netflix, which ranks which Internet Service Providers (ISPs) it claims provide the best prime time Netflix streaming experience in Ireland, makes interesting reading. UPC came out top this time, rising three places since the last survey in April, with an average streaming speed of 3.01Mbps.

Netflix says it carries out the survey to provide “transparency and help consumers understand the Internet access they’re actually getting from their ISPs”. In reality, however, the naming and shaming (or carrot and stick depending on how you look at it) exercise is all part of Netflix’s strategy to get ISPs to up their game and provide more capacity on their networks, so that it can push its service out to more and more new customers, without any degradation of the picture and sound quality for existing users.

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What does Wilbur Ross’ BoI sell-off mean for the taxpayer?

Posted on by David Murphy

 

boi

US billionaire Wilbur Ross to sell off all his 1.8 million Bank of Ireland shares

Many investors will be unnerved by the unexpected decision of Wilbur Ross, the billionaire US, to sell his entire stake in Bank of Ireland.

His move to buy the stake three years ago rescued the company from full State ownership and was the first time a big outside player had put money into Ireland’s ailing banks.

Since then international money has flooded into the country to buy distressed property assets.

It was not only prompted by the decision by Mr Ross and his co-investors. But it is worth remembering he was a buyer when every other international player was a seller.

Earlier this year the shares peaked at 39 cent. Mr Ross and some of his co-investors reduced their stake in March selling at 33 cent. In the following weeks the shares lost some of their value.

So many may anticipate his decision to sell his remaining stock may cause a further decline in the weeks and months ahead.

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The pros and cons of “the right to be forgotten”

Posted on by Will Goodbody

By Will Goodbody, Science & Technology Correspondent

@willgoodbody

google

There are two sides to the ‘right to be forgotten’ debate

Admit it. At some point you’ve Googled your own name, just to see what pops up. It’s an interesting exercise. Google my name, for example, and among the results returned is a not very complimentary forum post by someone, claiming every time I come on the TV I frighten their dog!

I don’t know the dog, or the owner. But what if I did? And I knew that the dog was never in fact scared by my mug appearing on the box? Or that the dog was at one point scared, but has since got used to my virtual presence in its living room? And I was unhappy that this image of me being unfriendly to pets was unfair, inaccurate and out of date.

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Nobody doing anything to prevent another insurance collapse

Posted on by David Murphy

Tens of thousands of van drivers face having to pay for a second insurance policy after Setanta's collapse

Tens of thousands of van drivers face having to pay for a second insurance policy after Setanta’s collapse

By Business Editor David Murphy

The 75,000 unfortunate policyholders who bought insurance with Setanta have been treated terribly.

What is worse is the fact that nothing is being done to prevent a repeat of the calamity. Continue reading

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