Newswise — At the turn of the century, with severe economic headwinds emerging and the example of the U.S. National Science Foundation in mind, Ireland made the radical decision to invest an unprecedented $1 billion in research focused on economic growth. Across the 25 years since, the resulting enterprise, Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), has become a model of how to align government investment, university research, and industry for economic success. In doing so, SFI has also become a cautionary tale of the risks posed to America by the continued attacks on science, expertise, and fact.

In their new book, How to Change the Future: Lessons from Ireland on Revolutionizing Scientific Innovation and Economic Prosperity, two Irish Americans who were part of SFI’s earliest years offer a behind-the-scenes look at 20 strategic steps that SFI took to turn Ireland into a global innovation leader. With vivid details and stories, they demonstrate how Ireland, facing the decline of the 1990’s famed Celtic Tiger, used SFI to boost itself from innovation laggard to recurring status as one of the world’s most innovative countries, all while transforming its economy. They make clear that unless the U.S. takes note, it will only fall further behind other nations in innovation, education, and R&D.

William Harris, SFI’s founding Director General, and Peter Mackey, SFI’s first Director of Communications, are joined in their observations by a host of notable voices, including former Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern, India’s most successful female entrepreneur Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, and some of America’s and Europe’s most prominent scientists and policymakers. SFI, they point out, shows America “how to reactivate the U.S. model of knowledge creation and invention—and, more than that, how this model can be applied within every state, including those between the coasts.”

Harris and Mackey, Ahern writes, “have told a story of dramatic change, a big Irish bet, and the power of cross-sector cooperation. Far more than that, they have provided practically a blueprint for how other governments, business, universities, and leaders can capitalize on the lessons Ireland learned along the way.”

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How to Change the Future