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Minister of State Smyth launches Innovation Week 2021

Minister of State with responsibility for Public Procurement and eGovernment, Ossian Smyth TD, has today, (Monday), launched Innovation Week 2021 at the Public Service Innovation Conference.

The conference is the flagship event of Innovation Week 2021, which promotes the growing culture of innovation across the public service and raises awareness of the continuing need for public service innovation, across sectors nationwide, in light of emerging issues and challenges such as the Covid-19 pandemic.

Innovation Week 2021, the third annual event being led by the Public Service Reform unit of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, will encourage public and civil servants to consider new ways of working together to shape how pubic services in Ireland can be provided, and sustained, into the future.

Speakers at the online Innovation Conference included:


  • Lieutenant General Seán Clancy, Chief of Staff, Defence Forces
  • Anne O’Connor, Chief Operations Officer, HSE
  • Ann Doherty, Chief Executive, Cork City Council
  • Angela Denning, Chief Executive, The Courts Service
  • Barry Lowry, Chief Information Officer, Office of the Government Chief Information Officer
  • Dr David Ricketts, Technology and Entrepreneurship Center, Harvard University


Speaking about Innovation Week 2021, Minister of State Smyth said:


“There are currently some 350,000 public servants working across different sectors in Ireland. Our public servants deserve great credit for successfully and swiftly innovating, under complex constraints during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, in which they have developed and delivered high quality services for the public. 


“Public bodies in Ireland must continue to make strategic changes in how they operate and conceive new ways of conceptualising and delivering services. Public bodies can become institutions of innovation - and innovation needs to become a central goal for staff of all grades in the public service. I encourage all public service organisations to nurture a permanent culture of innovation where staff are empowered and equipped to innovate together. “The opportunities for innovation in the public service are limitless, and the Government’s strategy provides a roadmap for how these opportunities can be turned into reality.  The Government is wholly committed to advancing a culture of innovation in the Irish public service that provides a high-value return to our communities.”


Supporting the event, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Michael McGrath TD, said:

“Innovation in the public service needs to become an instinctive norm as it saves time and money for public bodies and customers.  Public service bodies can also collaborate with each other to devise robust solutions to problems that affect Irish people - so that public services are even more efficient and effective.

“When tackling new issues and challenges, public service organisations must, collectively, be innovative and enterprising to manage strategic change and futureproof how they operate. New emerging technologies are also key tools to be embraced by public bodies to establish faster and better work practices - and improved outcomes for customers.”

During Innovation Week 2021, a number of workshops and webinars will be held to promote the positive benefits of innovation on public service practices for public servants.  Public service bodies around the country have been encouraged to host similar events for their staff.

The full programme and listings for Innovation Week 2021 events can be seen here. Today’s Innovation Conference also marked the recent first meeting of the newly established Public Service Innovation Advisory Board (PSIAB). The Board was established pursuant to Action 4.1.2 of the Government’s Making Innovation Real strategy. Members of the PSIAB are not paid and will not be provided with expenses. Appointments to the PSIAB were made following an expression of interest exercise and its membership can be viewed here.

Innovation Week 2021 will also see the launch of the Public Service Innovation Fund 2022 to support fresh innovative ideas from public service organisations.


Contact: Claire Godkin, Press Officer, Department of Public Expenditure and Reform – 085 806 3969

*Photos will be issued by:  Leon Farrell of Photocall Ireland- 087 638 6379


Notes for Editors

Innovation Week 2021 and Our Public Service Innovation Week 2021 is developed and delivered by the Public Service Reform unit of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. The unit is responsible for implementing and managing Our Public Service (OPS), the framework that supports continuous development and innovation across the public service (See: ). The OPS programme of reform builds on the achievements of previous reforms and sets a path for improvements into the future.

During the lifetime of the current OPS framework there have been a number of central innovation programmes and initiatives, which are collectively intended to bolster innovation and experimentation across the public service - as provided for in the strategic policy on public service innovation, Making Innovation Real, launched in November 2020. They include:

  • The Public Service Innovation Fund which supports innovative projects from across public service organisations.  
    • Since its introduction in 2019, the Public Service Innovation Fund has supported 73 innovation applications from across the public service and allocated €2.2m in funding. 
  • The Public Service Innovation Network. The network facilitates ongoing innovation connections and collaboration between people, teams and organisations in the public service where ideas and outputs on innovation are continually shared.
    • It now has 1,220 members across the public sector and there are 154 public service representatives from different public service organisations leading out on innovation in their organisations.
  • The Future Tech Challenge final – a competition held in October 2021, which saw public bodies competing to secure a share of a total of €300k in funding with Amazon Web Services, Cisco and IBM.
  • Innovation Week
  • Learning and development interventions, including the recently announced Level 8 qualification in Artificial Intelligence for public servants - being delivered through Technological University Dublin.

In addition, as part of the government’s GovTech agenda, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform is exploring mechanisms to partner with industry to better understand how technology can be used to solve problems faced by our public service organisations, as provided for in the Cruinniú GovTech Report.