Enterprise Ireland has revealed that in the past 12 months it has invested €15m in 70 projects in universities and colleges across Ireland aimed at commercialising third level research.
Last year the state body launched its Commercialisation Fund to provide finance to researchers to enable them to carry out applied research in the science and engineering fields with the aim of transferring commercially useful knowledge out of the research system and into the market.
The fund operates in three broad phases. These correspond with the stages a technological idea must pass through in order to successfully progress from the laboratory to the market. In the first phase, known as the Proof of Concept phase, a researcher investigates the innovativeness of, and potential market for, the concept.
More rigorous testing of the technology and its applications takes place during the Technology Development phase which typically lasts two to three years. The third phase, Business Planning, assists the researcher to develop a new company based on the technology idea, if that is the preferred route, or alternatively to transfer the technology developed to an established firm. A researcher may access funding at any point along this spectrum, according to what stage the work is at.
Commenting on the importance of the Fund for third level researchers, Michael Conlon of the Electrical Power Research Group at Dublin Institute of Technology, a recent recipient of support under the Fund, said: “The finance and advice we have received through the Commercialisation Fund will enable us to explore avenues and uses for our research work which would not have otherwise been possible.
“As the technology’s successful launch onto the market draws closer, Enterprise Ireland supports the researcher either to create a new company based on his or her work or to source suitable commercial partners to bring it to market. This decision is at the discretion of the researcher involved. The researcher may be interested in commercialising the research or may prefer to concentrate on other priorities and so find someone else suitable who can bring the research to market, with resulting mutual reward. Whichever route is chosen, Enterprise Ireland offers support and advice on all the relevant issues that must be taken into consideration,” he concluded.
By John Kennedy