University of Limerick wants 25pc more spin-out companies by 2020

12 Jan 2016

With third-level institutions struggling financially across the board, it comes as no surprise that the University of Limerick’s five-year plan released today (12 January) sees commercialisation of research as key.

The University of Limerick (UL) report entitled Excellence & Impact 2020 – Research and Innovation Strategy was launched today (12 January) by Minister for Skills, Research and Innovation Damien English as part of its plans to look not just in Ireland, but internationally, in terms of potential growth.

As revealed earlier this month, a number of Irish third-level institutions are facing grim financial futures due to a lack of funding and support, and while UL was not referenced as being among the most affected, there are still concerns across Irish universities about finding additional sources of revenue.

Future Human

As part of its strategy, UL has targeted four goals to achieve by the time 2020 comes around, including: research excellence, research impact, investing in people and international reach.

Broken down among these targets are a set of percentage goals in different areas of UL that the university will hope to hit, particularly when it comes to showing that it can transition students to employment, with hopes of a 100pc increase in the number of employment-based and part-time doctoral enrolments.

Likewise, its reputation among the wider scientific and academic community will look to be bolstered, with aims of a 20pc increase in the number of doctoral enrolments and a 30pc increase in the number of publications in top-10 percentile journals.

Financially, however, the greatest gains could be made with its targeted 25pc increase in new spin-out companies and a 20pc increase in research income from industry.

A rather eventful 2015

“UL has recognised strengths in the areas of materials, advanced manufacturing, software, health and applied mathematical sciences,” said UL’s vice-president for research, Dr Mary Shire.

“This strategy aims to intensify critical mass in our areas of strength while focusing on investment in people as our research activities continue to evolve through new and emerging areas.

“The attraction of major R&D centres to Limerick in recent times has been underpinned by the research strengths of UL, this drives vital investment in Ireland and provides a pipeline for our highly-skilled graduates.”

The end of 2015 was quite eventful for UL, as it turned out, with one of its graduates, Cathal Redmond, finishing as joint runner-up in the global James Dyson Awards for his underwater breathing system, Express Dive.

Equally celebratory was one of its spin-out companies, Ocean Survivor, winning the top InterTradeIreland Seedcorn award and a €100,000 prize to develop the company’s range of safety equipment aimed primarily at the off-shore oil industry.

University of Limerick campus image via Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic