Some 35 companies that were assisted by Enterprise Ireland’s TechSearch programme signed technology transfer deals in 2006 worth over €2m which lead to over €5m of increased sales and exports.
“Several Irish companies, including Soft Edge, Alltracel and NTera, have already benefited from the rise in the rate of international licensing of IP by building partnerships with some of the world’s leading global companies,” explained Jim Cuddy, manager of the Innovation and Technology Transfer Department at Enterprise Ireland.
Cuddy said that participation in the TechSearch programme, which provides direct assistance to SMEs (small to medium-sized enterprises) who wish to use technology to boost growth, increased 60pc in 2006 with almost 200 Irish companies entering the programme and 100 companies entering into negotiations with potential partners overseas.
However, less than 5pc of the estimated €1.4bn invested in research and development (R&D) by Irish companies in 2006 was spent on in-licensing, reflecting the need to increase SME awareness of the potential of business growth made possible by technology transfer.
“Enterprise Ireland has some €60m to spend in its RTI (R&D) and productivity funds in 2007, up to 50pc of which is available for licensing and technology acquisition, and we want to ensure that this money is used to best effect,” said Cuddy.
“Why develop a technology or product yourself when it might be available elsewhere and could be licensed-in?” he asked.
“Many entrepreneurs who head up SMEs think their business doesn’t fit the profile of a company who should take advantage of licensing but our TechSearch programme actively supports Irish businesses through each step of the process, including finding the technology or product, evaluating potential projects and contract negotiation,” Cuddy said.
Highlighting the international scope of the TechSearch programme, Cuddy pointed to an international agreement signed in October between Enterprise Ireland and the National Research Council of Canada that gives Irish firms access to Canadian technology through a network of technology advisors.
Other companies such as software firm eXpd8 have struck licensing partnerships in South Africa and Techrec Ireland has entered into a joint venture with a Northern Ireland company, COD International, to give them refrigerator disposal technology.
By John Kennedy