The report, released by Ireland's Advisory Science Council last week, said that Ireland is "uncompetitive" and losing clinical trials to other countries where securing ethical approval is less cumbersome. "Ireland must develop and implement a new national health research strategy as a matter of urgency," said the report, titled: "Towards Better Health: Achieving a Step Change in Health Research in Ireland." "Our goal is to make Ireland the destination of choice when advanced technology for health is being conceived, tested or implemented," said the chairman of the advisory council, Mary Cryan. Typically Ireland hasn't been a location where clinical research has been conducted by pharma firms and there are currently only three or four other contract research organisations (CROs) operating in the country, Icon Clinical Research being the largest. Quintiles did have a presence although have since moved their operations to the UK. The new report makes 21 recommendations to help change this situation, including the immediate appointment of 30 extra clinical scientists with protected time for research; introducing incentives to medical professionals to pursue research careers; and making Ireland a hub for translational research. Specifically, the report also recommends the necessity of streamlining and professionalising the approvals process - especially the ethics committees - for clinical trials, which it describes as "fragmented, slow and under-resourced". Each of Ireland's 13 ethics committees currently has different procedures, membership is voluntary and no formal training is provided to members - the report recommends that four regional ethics committees be established instead. "Approval structures must be both efficient and transparent if Ireland is to develop as a centre of excellence for translational research," said Professor Tim O'Brien, chairman of the task force that produced the report. The report was compiled after the Advisory Science Council spent the last year investigating business opportunities across Ireland's healthcare sector, in conjunction with consultation with numerous professional bodies, patient groups, the Health Research Board, universities, clinicians and researchers in the country.