To encourage more Irish firms to consider buying in technology as a means of boosting innovation, Enterprise Ireland (EI) has launched a new service designed to make it easier for businesses to source technology through such procedures as intellectual property (IP), licensing and strategic partnerships.
TechSearch allows Irish companies to benefit from a business practice that is used by thousands of companies worldwide and involves buying in technology instead of or in addition to conducting in-house research and development (R&D).
According to EI, by buying in technology a company can improve its products or processes without a huge investment of time, human resources or money. It often includes training and assistance on implementation, which leads to greater speed to market with more predictable costs.
Despite its clear benefits, the awareness and uptake of technology licensing in Ireland is relatively low. In 2003, Irish businesses spent over €1bn on R&D, with only an estimated 5pc of that amount spent on licensing in technology.
As well as promoting the benefits of technology acquisition, TechSearch supports Irish businesses through each step of the process, including the assessment of the company’s existing technologies and processes and the evaluation of potential projects and contract negotiation. The agency expects to facilitate 40 technology transfers this year alone.
Sectors that have traditionally embraced technology acquisition include the biomedical, food-processing, electronics and automotive-engineering industries. However, EI points out that companies of all sizes and types can gain from this practice.
“Technology acquisition is a cost-effective way of improving existing or creating new products and processes but many business managers think they don’t fit the profile of a company who should take advantage of this,” says Jim Cuddy, manager of the Technology Transfer Department at EI. “TechSearch will help businesses of all sizes employ a model of open innovation that will help them stay at the cutting edge within their market.”
The service is designed for companies that are exporting or that plan to export in the near future and is available to clients of the four main development agencies ? Enterprise Ireland, IDA, Shannon Development and Údarás na Gaeltachta.
By Brian Skelly