Enterprise Ireland kicks off new €22m tech transfer initiative

22 Dec 2011

Firms who want to revitalise their businesses to be ripe for export opportunities are being urged to make proposals for the €22m second phase of the Technology Transfer Strengthening Initiative.

The Minister for Research and Innovation Sean Sherlock, TD, today opened a call for applications for the €22m scheme which supports new company creation and the transfer of intellectual property between higher education institutions and industry.

The €22m initiative, €5.5m per annum from 2013-2016, will build on the achievements of the initial five-year programme, and will significantly boost interaction between industry and higher education institutions.

“The first phase of the Technology Transfer Strengthening Initiative has proved to be a very valuable means of developing third-level research into new spin-out companies and of enabling the licensing of new technologies for the benefit of industry,” Sherlock said.

“I am anxious to keep up the momentum of the initiative and so I have arranged to provide funding for a Phase Two Technology Transfer Strengthening Initiative which will run until the end of 2016. I believe that it is important that Ireland develops a reputation in industry circles for providing access to intellectual property in a professional and efficient way.”

Introduced by Enterprise Ireland in 2007, the Technology Transfer Strengthening Initiative has transformed how research with commercial potential is brought to the marketplace.  

The clearest indicator of the initiatives’ success is the three-fold increase in the average number of spin-out companies created in the five-year period since it was introduced – rising from an average of seven per annum in the period 2002-2006 to an average of 24 per annum between 2007 and 2011.

In addition to the 120 spin-out companies created, there has also been a 400pc increase in the amount of technologies licensed to companies by research-performing organisations.

“By building new companies and bringing fresh ideas from the research environment to the attention of existing industry in a usable format, we will create employment and generate increased exports, both of which are critical to our economic recovery,” Sherlock said.

The objectives of the second phase include the development of a fast and flexible response to industry’s requests for access to intellectual property and giving spin-out companies the best possible start. A new dimension to the initiative will see the formation of regional clusters of research-performing organisations, which will see the sharing of resources and expertise, thereby delivering an enhanced service for industry in Ireland.

Ireland creates four times more spin-outs than EU or US counterparts

According to Feargal Ó Móráin, executive director of Enterprise Ireland, the technology transfer system compares well with more mature systems, like those in the US and EU, with up to four times as many spin-outs created and 20pc more technologies licensed to companies for the amount of expenditure on research.  

“The extension of funding for a second phase of the Technology Transfer Strengthening Initiative will enable us to increase the flexibility and responsiveness of the system to make it a key resource for industry in Ireland.”

Enterprise Ireland manages the Irish technology transfer system in partnership with the higher education institutions. Proposals are expected from Irish higher education institutions before the 20 March 2012 deadline.

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