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The 2016 Dublin Conference of the Small Advanced Economies Initiative

In September 2016, the Ireland hosted the annual Principals Conference of the Small Advanced Economies Initiative, which met in Dublin Castle from 6-8 September. Jointly organised by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation and Science Foundation Ireland, the Conference provided an opportunity for key senior officials and policymakers from Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Israel, New Zealand, Singapore and Switzerland to share insights and knowledge in the areas of science and innovation, economic policy and foreign affairs.

Dublin SAEI Conference

The agenda for the Conference was wide-ranging, covering a range topics such as relations with large states and entities, civil society discontent with globalization, climate change, research and development, economic competitiveness, and the role of the diaspora. Participants also discussed small state diplomacy, economic complexity trends, productivity and competitiveness, regional fragmentation, research commercialisation, ODA and climate change.

In the Foreign Affairs and Trade discussions, there was an opening session on the relationship of small states to big neighbours (Ireland and Britain, Singapore and China) and a presentation by Ireland on the bilateral relationship with Britain. The second plenary was focussed on the theme of “The Great Unravelling? Rising civil society discontent with globalisation: Challenge and Opportunity for small states.” Participants had a very useful presentation and discussion with the OECD on business success in the digital age.

Key themes in the economics and science and innovation streams of the Conference included a presentation by Ireland on “competitiveness and productivity growth”; “economic complexity trends over time” by Singapore; Science Funding Horizon Scan and the Future of Public Science Systems by New Zealand and a presentation on STEM and public engagement with society by Ireland.

Other elements to the conference included a delegates reception hosted by Minister Flanagan at Iveagh House, a demonstration by Fablabs Ireland on the potential of new technology to address social and economic issues; a visit to Trinity College for a briefing by Science Foundation Ireland on Ireland’s innovation system; a working dinner at Farmleigh with a keynote address by former GATT and WTO Director General and Competition Commissioner Peter Sutherland and a closing reception address by Professor of Technology and Business Innovation at NUI Maynooth, Martin Curley.