Dramatic rise in number of Irish university spin-outs

16 Feb 2010

The number of spin-out companies set up from Irish third-level colleges increased dramatically last year, new figures have shown.

According to figures from the Technology Transfer Offices (TTOs) in Irish third-level institutes, 35 new spin-out companies were created across the 10 main third-level institutes in 2009, up from an average of just 10 per annum in previous years.

Driving factor
The driving factor behind this growth is the Technology Transfer Strengthening Initiative (TTSI), set up by Enterprise Ireland in 2007, which was designed to increase the commercialisation of intellectual property (IP) in Irish universities and to transfer this IP into industry.

A key element of the TTSI was the establishment of the TTOs across the 10 institutes at the outset of the initiative.

The 10 institutes are made up of the seven member bodies of the Irish Universities Association, plus Waterford Institute of Technology, Dublin Institute of Technology and the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland.

Hard evidence
The new figures also show that the number of licences issued, where new technologies or processes created by campus-based research teams are licensed to manufacturers or developers, have risen significantly, from just 33 on average per annum before the TTSI initiative to 102 last year.

“These new figures are hard evidence that supporting university-based research works, and that it can result in the formation of sustainable, viable corporate entities,” said Dr John Scanlan, director, Office of Commercialisation, NUI Maynooth.

“In the current business climate, the commercialisation of research from our universities can make an essential contribution to economic recovery, and these figures are proof of that.”

Ireland competes favourably
“What this process also demonstrates is that Ireland competes very favourably with other countries, in terms of funding invested in university-based research and the production of spin-out enterprises. In the US, where this activity is very mature and very valued, the equivalent research funding figure of about €50 million is spent per spin-out created, while this figure drops to about €30 million per spin out for the UK,” Scanlan said.

“It’s crucial that we continue this pattern, investing in the science and in the commercialisation of the science, so the wider economy can begin to feel the benefits of this process in future years,” he added.

Of the 35 spin-out firms set up last year, about half are in the information technology space and half are in the bioscience/food arena.

Examples of spin-out companies that were set up in 2009 include Analyze IQ Limited, set up in NUI Galway. The company creates technologies used to analyse complex mixtures of illegal drugs, pharmaceuticals and contaminants, which are applicable in a range of industry sectors.

Other spin-out firms successfully started last year were mobile software company Cauwill Technologies, set up in the University of Limerick, and Trezur Limited, which develops digital music consumer applications and which is backed by the Dublin Institute of Technology and Enterprise Ireland.

Article courtesy of Businessandleadership.com

Photo: Thirty-five new spin-out companies were created across the 10 main third-level institutes last year, up from an average of 10 per annum in previous years, figures from the Technology Transfer Offices in Irish third-level institutes show