Digital research projects’ innovative escape from ‘Valley of Death’

20 Nov 2009

The National Digital Research Centre is the sole collaboration centre in Ireland where all research projects have a clear commercial objective and can escape the lamentable ‘Valley of Death’, a new report today has claimed.

The ‘Valley of Death’, it seems, is the imaginative title given to the dead ground where research projects disappear between the lab and commercial success.

According to the National Digital Research Centre (NDRC’s) annual report, the NDRC is the sole collaboration centre in the country where all research activities have a clear commercial objective, with industry expertise directly engaged with each project.

The NDRC has received investment to date of €12 million, and a total of €3.25 million raised from non-exchequer funding sources in a challenging economic environment.

Number of projects

It says the NDRC is cultivating a stable of 17 high-value digital projects.

There are 14 commercial partners in place to accelerate their journey to the marketplace, as well as direct links with Irish VC companies.

Some of the “smart projects” to emerge include a device for remote monitoring of heart health, a platform that checks the trustworthiness of web content, and software that will deliver enhanced social-networking to your mobile.

NDRC will soon be announcing its next project sourcing activity under its second phase of investment, with details available online.

“Ireland’s digital sector is growing from strength to strength,” said the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Eamon Ryan TD, in launching the annual report.

“Over the next 10 years, the majority of our exports will be digitally traded – as a small, open economy, this will be crucial in guaranteeing future prosperity. The National Digital Research Centre promotes innovation and creation in our digital sector and Government will continue in its support for this vital service. ”

NDRC’s role as partner and facilitator was recently validated when one of its 17 projects, ‘Local Social’, a partnership between NDRC, Rococco Software Ltd and University College Dublin, won a major award from the Irish Software Association.


Ben Hurley, CEO of the NDRC.

The CEO of the NDRC Ben Hurley said this proves that the model of collaboration the NDRC is pursuing between industry partners and researchers is on track to deliver marketplace success and ultimately indigenous job creation.

Local Social is a platform for delivering enhanced social networking on your mobile and is already attracting interest internationally.

“We’ve seen unprecedented levels of interest in our first round of open tenders and along with our industry partners have been hugely impressed with the scale, ambition and quality of the entrepreneurs out there,” said Hurley.

“Ireland has a highly innovative, well-educated workforce that is very active in the internet and mobile space, which is the exact breeding ground for great digital ideas.

“What has been seriously lacking is the delivery mechanism to turn those research ideas into investable products and that’s where NDRC and its focus on collaborations with industry players comes in. As a participant in this delivery process, we act as the bridge across this internationally recognised ‘Valley of Death’ between the lab and the marketplace,” said Hurley.

NDRC board member Jean-Marc Soustre, director of multimedia in Ericsson, said: “The involvement with NDRC is a two-way street in that our global perspective brings a road map of experience in digital media to the table, while Ericsson has a unique chance to understand the opportunities, the market direction and the potential interests the company may leverage in Ireland.”

By John Kennedy

Photo: Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Eamon Ryan TD.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years