The Government's science agency, Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), linked 349 firms with college researchers last year in a move that will create jobs by harnessing the commercial potential of college research, according to the Minister for Science, Technology and Innovation, Conor Lenihan TD.
Minister Lenihan was launching SFI's 2009 annual report.
"Collaborations and partnerships between Ireland's scientific research and enterprise communities are now being formed at an unprecedented level and they are a critical component of our developing "smart" economy.
"Last year, SFI linked 184 multinational firms and 165 small and medium-sized enterprises with academic teams.
"And the agency supported 29 top-class research centres and 3,225 researchers in higher education institutions,' said Minister Lenihan.
Minister Lenihan said SFI was playing an important role in supporting world-class scientific research and the creation of 'smart' jobs.
"SFI's partnerships between academia and industry grew by 25pc last year.
"Almost 350 firms are now linked to SFI-funded research teams, bringing a more market-conscious focus to their work and adding value to their business models.
"SFI's support for world-class scientific research is contributing to the success in attracting foreign direct investments to Ireland. For example, half of all new project investments won by IDA Ireland last year had a research and development component worth about €500 million to the economy,' said Minister Lenihan.
He said the quality and volume of our scientific publications has dramatically improved.
"In a little over two decades, Ireland has gone from a level below Bangladesh to breaking into the top 20 in the scientific global rankings according to Thomson Reuters Essential Scientific Indicators.
"And largely on the back of SFI investments in biotechnology over the past decade, Ireland now ranks third in the world in immunology,' said Minister Lenihan.
The chairperson of SFI, Professor Pat Fottrell, said: 'Pioneering research, innovation, commercialisation and the delivery of success all involve tireless dedication and strategic input from many different individuals, institutions and organisations.
"Working closely with IDA Ireland, Enterprise Ireland, Health Research Board, Higher Education Authority, Teagasc and other vital partners, SFI is confident of sustaining the progress recorded last year into the future."