Ireland could become a world leader in cloud computing thanks to a new €1.2m research programme, it was claimed today.
Jobs and Enterprise Minister Richard Bruton announced the Government investment into the fast-growing technology today as part of its Action Plan for Jobs.
"A key part of this Government's plan for growth and jobs is identifying areas where we believe Ireland has distinct advantages compared to other countries, and taking steps necessary to ensure that we realise our potential in those areas," said Mr Bruton.
"Cloud computing is one such sector, and the Government believes that between our climate, skills base, telecoms connectivity and existing strengths in ICT, we have the potential to reap substantial benefits in terms of jobs and growth from the global expansion of this sector."
Cloud computing allows people to store applications and software with companies in "the cloud", which can be accessed from anywhere over the internet.
The €1.2m investment will be made into a Cloud Computing Technology Research Centre, which will bring academic researchers together aimed at generating business ideas and boosting growth in the sector.
The centre will be made up of a group of higher education institutions including researchers from University College Cork and the Athlone Institute of Technology.
Funding will be allocated over the next 12 months.
"Through the Action Plan for Jobs, I am determined to continue implementing change to ensure that Ireland realises its potential in this area and contribute to the jobs and growth we so badly need," Mr Bruton went on.
Research will focus on cloud computing technology architecture, design and operation, as well as service management and cloud security.
Enterprise Ireland director of ICT commercialisation Gearoid Mooney said the research will be vital to help Irish companies adopt the technology.
"Having the capacity to do computing this way is one thing but software companies have to figure out how to make best use of this technology," said Mr Mooney.
Last year, industry chiefs predicted that Ireland could create up to 20,000 jobs by adopting the new technology.
Microsoft Ireland managing director Paul Rellis said "the cloud" could be worth €9.5bn to the economy by 2014.