The current state of Ireland’s knowledge transfer system

19 May 2023

Image: © VectorMine/

Imelda Lampkin of Enterprise Ireland speaks to about the current state of the knowledge transfer system in Ireland.

The knowledge transfer system in Ireland has been steadily improving over the last few years. The sharing of information between research institutions and the business and public sectors has grown exponentially, with multiple Government initiatives, programmes and official bodies introduced and established to continue that growth.

In 2018, a report by Knowledge Transfer Ireland showed that the continued effort to commercialise research was yielding great results. The report showed that because of the knowledge transfer system, more jobs, companies and products were being introduced. And the system is still improving to this day.

Knowledge Transfer Ireland (KTI) launched in 2014 with the goal of commercialising state-funded research from all third-level institutions in the country. Led by Enterprise Ireland, KTI works towards making it easier for enterprise to access state-funded research.

We spoke to Imelda Lampkin, manager of Disruptive Technologies, Innovation and Knowledge Transfer for Enterprise Ireland, about the current state of the knowledge transfer system in Ireland and the ways that KTI and Enterprise Ireland are working towards and monitoring the infrastructure.

“Over the past decade Ireland’s knowledge transfer system has reached real maturity with highly qualified professionals across the higher education institutions, acting as a key local and national resource.”

Lampkin spoke to us about how the knowledge transfer system in Ireland is “seen as a role model by research communities and knowledge transfer professionals in other countries”, highlighting the fact that Ireland’s National IP Protocol, which is Ireland’s framework for research commercialisation authored by KTI, is featured on the European Commission’s Repository of Best Practice. The protocol “sets out the Government’s policies to encourage industry to benefit from publicly funded research and describes the practical arrangements for this to happen”.

When asked about how the knowledge transfer system in Ireland fosters collaboration between academic institutions and industry, Lampkin highlighted the resources available on KTI’s website as an example. She talked us through the website’s portal, which allows users to navigate across “the entire research sector, to identify complementary synergistic skill-sets and research capabilities, to access the right people in the technology transfer offices and to access the national register of available intellectual property for licensing and a directory of research expertise”. As well as the research-based resources, the portal has resources for industry, including template model agreements and associated practical guides.

As for the future, Lampkin discussed how Enterprise Ireland and KTI recognise the importance of maintaining and improving the knowledge transfer ecosystem in Ireland and are continuously working towards its advancement. In keeping with the strategy outlined in Impact 2030, the Government’s research and innovation plan, the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment and Enterprise Ireland recently launched KT Boost, a four-year, €33.4m knowledge transfer funding programme for Irish universities, which is managed by KTI.

“Its objective is to support an increase in research commercialisation outcomes from within this sector – both regionally and nationally – and to develop consistent practices across the knowledge transfer sector,” said Lampkin.

The programme is being administered by Enterprise Ireland and co-funded by the Government and the European Regional Development Fund, and according to Lampkin, “reflects the maturity of the Irish knowledge transfer system”.

But how do you measure the success of a knowledge transfer system?

Lampkin explained to that Enterprise Ireland validates multiple metrics reflecting the technology transfer system as a whole. These include; the number of collaborative research agreements, inventions, patents and licenses, number of spin-out companies formed and active spin-out companies (which refers to any spin-out active for three or more years post formation). The organisation also reviews the number of jobs created in these companies and reports all of these metrics “in the context of the research expenditure in the institutions”.

As for the future, Lampkin described how they are “all watching the creation of a new competitive R&I funding agency with interest and hoping to see Ireland’s research expenditure continue to grow”, while emphasising the importance of keeping the knowledge transfer pipeline “fuelled”. She discussed Enterprise Ireland’s new €30m Innovator’s Initiative, the objective of which is developing a series of immersive, needs-led innovation training programmes.

“These training programmes will create cohorts of highly skilled innovators, who can identify unmet market needs within specific sectors of growth in Ireland. We hope to see opportunities for new knowledge transfer reflective of specific sectors of national or regional importance grow from this initiative.”

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Colin Ryan is a copywriter/copyeditor at Silicon Republic