New book, co-authored by William Harris and Peter Mackey, provides lessons learned from Ireland on revolutionizing scientific innovation and economic prosperity

AMHERST, Mass., June 24, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — In their new book, How to Change the Future: Lessons from Ireland on Revolutionizing Scientific Innovation and Economic Prosperity, William Harris, who formerly served as founding Director General of Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), and Peter Mackey, who served as SFI’s first Director of Communications, detail how other small countries can turn the key ingredients that have made Ireland a 21st-century innovation powerhouse into their own success stories. In the book, the co-authors offer a behind-the-scenes look at 20 strategic steps Ireland took through SFI to turn itself into a global innovation leader. Revealing the pivotal decisions that made all the difference, they show how other countries can put these choices to use for their own good.


Harris and Mackey document how Ireland, facing the decline of the Celtic Tiger, created SFI from whole cloth, invested in select fields of research, and turned itself from a global innovative laggard into one of the world’s most dynamic economies. In SFI, they show, that small countries across Europe have a model for aligning government investment, university research, and industry for economic success. The authors also make clear that if the newly formed Research Ireland forgets the lessons of SFI’s impact, it risks undermining Ireland’s own global competitiveness.

In making their case, the authors also feature the potent observations of such notable voices as former Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern, former Deputy Prime Minister Mary Harney, India’s most successful female entrepreneur Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, and some of Europe’s most prominent scientists.

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, businesses, universities, and leaders can capitalize on the lessons Ireland learned along the way.”

As Research Ireland prepares to subsume SFI in the coming months, the risks have grown that Ireland will forsake its own lessons. In capturing the significance of SFI’s story, How to Change the Future offers those lessons for leaders across Europe looking to connect scientific talent and investment to economic growth.

Learn more about How to Change the Future and reach the authors at

Contact: Melanie Moran[email protected]

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