President Michael D Higgins has opened the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition, saying we must aspire to being a "Republic of Creativity".
Hundreds of school students gathered in Dublin today for the start of the exhibition.
The four-day event at the RDS is celebrating its 50th anniversary.
President Higgins said the exploitation of the talents of every young person is important and Ireland's educational infrastructure must promote resilience.
Describing the competition as inspiring and uplifting, he also paid tribute to the students, parents, teachers and organisers.
The President described the competition as a great celebration of original and creative Irish thinking and a huge affirmation of the great wealth of innovative and imaginative talent that exists amongst Ireland's youth.
More than 2,000 projects from around the country were entered into this year's exhibition, with 550 selected to take part in the autumn.
Each project will be judged at least three times. The winners will be announced on Friday evening.
The event is open to the public from tomorrow.
The exhibition was set up by then UCD researchers Dr Tony Scott and the late Fr Tom Burke, who visited a science fair in the United States in 1963.
Since then, the event has grown massively and has seen countless exhibitors and winners go on to successful careers in science and technology.
It is expected 40,000 people will visit the exhibitions, live shows and interactive education exhibits this year.