The digital economy policy, EU regulation and data access role in the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment (DETE) is to:
- ensure Ireland’s position as a digital leader at the heart of European and global digital developments
- drive the implementation of the Enterprise Pillar of the new National Digital Strategy to develop the optimal digital ecosystem for SMEs, increasing Ireland’s digital competitiveness
- implement the National AI Strategy
- ensure that Ireland is a strong voice in Europe for a balanced and optimal approach to digital regulation for society and the economy in areas such as data, digital markets, digital services, cyber security and AI
- develop stronger networks with other like-minded member states, particularly the Digital 9+ countries (D9+), that is, the top-ranked European countries in the European Commission annual Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI)
- support joint initiatives by the Taoiseach, Tánaiste and relevant ministers
- liaise closely with the Minister of State with responsibility for Trade Promotion, Digital and Company Regulation
- strengthen engagement with the European Commission, the European Parliament, the OECD and Irish stakeholders on the digital transformation agenda
- provide progress reports to the Cabinet Committee on Economic Recovery and Investment, and other Cabinet Committees, as appropriate
- manage the Enterprise Digital Advisory Forum
- assist Ireland’s AI Ambassador in her role
National Digital Strategy
The National Digital Strategy (NDS), Harnessing Digital: The Digital Ireland Framework, was published in February 2022 and presents a consolidated approach to maximising the economic and societal benefits from digitalisation and to ensure that all are in a position to enjoy those benefits.
The NDS is a high-level document providing an overarching long-term vision of the impacts of digitalisation on Ireland. It is set out across four core dimensions, which are aligned with the four cardinal points of the EU’s Digital Compass: Digital Transformation of Business, Digital Infrastructure, Skills, and Digitalisation of Public Services. These will be supported by a modern, cohesive, well-resourced regulatory framework.
The Digital Transformation of Business dimension aims to drive a step-change in the digitalisation of businesses, in particular SMEs; to sustain Ireland’s attractiveness as a location for leading digital enterprises; and to maximise the benefits of the digital transition for the wider ecosystem.
Ongoing initiatives relevant to the NDS include work on the digital transformation of business with a focus on SMEs and a study on Digital Skills.
National AI Strategy
The National AI Strategy, AI – Here for Good, was published in July 2021 and sets out a whole of government approach to putting the necessary enablers in place to underpin AI adoption in enterprise and public services, including a supportive innovation ecosystem, a secure data and connectivity infrastructure, and policies to ensure that the workforce is prepared for the impact of AI.
In line with this Strategy, the Department has established an Economic Digital Advisory Forum (EDAF) to advise and work with government to drive enterprise adoption of digital technologies, including AI. The EDAF brings together representatives of indigenous enterprise, multinational corporations, and experts with suitable knowledge of AI and digitalisation with regards to its adoption by enterprise. The first meeting of the EDAF took place in May 2022.
After a competitive process, Dr Patricia Scanlon has been appointed Ireland’s first AI Ambassador. As outlined in the AI Strategy, the role of the AI Ambassador includes promoting awareness and increasing understanding among the public and businesses of the potential that AI offers.
The AI Ambassador will lead a national conversation around the role of AI in our lives, specifically:
- building awareness and public trust in AI, emphasising an ethical and compliant approach
- promoting the use of AI by business and encouraging students to pursue careers in AI
Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI)
The Irish performance (and that of the other EU Member States) against the DSM initiatives set out in the Strategy is measured within the Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI). The DESI is a composite index that summarises five relevant indicators (Connectivity, Human Capital/Digital skills, Use of Internet by Citizens, Integration of Digital Technology by Businesses, Digital Public Services) on Europe’s digital performance and tracks the evolution of EU member states in digital competitiveness.
The DESI Index 2021 shows that Ireland is ranked as the fifth most advanced digital economy in the EU and Digital Transformation continues to be a core economic policy issue in Ireland.
Ireland’s overall score increased from 2020 to 2021, and maintains high scores in the use of e-commerce by SMEs. Ireland’s performance for connectivity improved significantly in 2020, with fixed very high capacity network coverage growing from 35% to 83%. Overall Ireland’s performance has steadily grown on the DESI since its inception in 2014.