Knowledge Transfer Ireland celebrates and rewards commercial research

22 Jun 2016

Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor, TD, with Knowledge Transfer Ireland director Dr Alison Campbell and CEO of the Higher Education Authority, Tom Boland, at the launch of KTI’s Annual Review. Photo via Maxwell Photography

As the first-ever Knowledge Transfer Ireland awards ceremony approaches, the organisation’s annual review has shown a marked increase in research commercialisation.

This Thursday (23 June) marks the first in what will be an annual celebration of commercially-valuable knowledge at the Knowledge Transfer Ireland (KTI) Impact Awards.

Nominees – and, as of tomorrow, selected award winners – have been recognised for the impact their research has had on industry and the list encompasses universities, spin-outs and research centres, totalling 21 named finalists across seven categories.

Inspirefest 2016

“The finalists come from research-performing organisations across the country, many of whom are doing groundbreaking work, and I look forward to celebrating their achievements at our awards evening,” said Richéal Drumgoole, a press representative for the event.

When discussing the standard of the inaugural awards’ finalists, Drumgoole pointed to one University College Dublin spin-out that recently sold for $68m: Logentries. Topping that acquisition figure is University of Limerick company Powervation, which was snapped up by ROHM up for $70m in 2015.

Logentries and Powervation are both in the running for the Mature Spin-out Company Impact Award along with a contender from Trinity College Dublin – mobile marketing automation firm Swrve – which closed a $30m investment round in 2015, creating new jobs at the company.

Rise in research commercialisation

As an organisation, KTI provides the connection between universities and industry in order to enable the commercialisation of research and maximise the flow of technology, IP and ideas into companies for social and economic benefit.

Ahead of the awards ceremony, KTI released its 2015 Annual Review, which includes the results of its Annual Knowledge Transfer Survey, tracking the business engagement and commercialisation activity between industry and State-funded research-performing organisations (RPOs) over the previous 12 months

The 25 RPOs surveyed had a combined research expenditure of €536m in 2015 and, between them, brought 38 new products to market – a 27pc increase on the previous year. By the end of 2015, there were 1,235 collaborative research programmes underway between industry and RPOs.

Job creation from the knowledge economy

A total of 31 new spin-out companies formed during the year and 111 active spin-out companies were still identified as ‘thriving’ three years since incorporation. These active spin-outs created 930 jobs for the Irish market.

“The knowledge transfer profession here in Ireland continues to grow and prosper and we now have the highest number of registered technology transfer professionals (pro rata) than any other country,” said KTI director Dr Alison Campbell in a statement. “I look forward to celebrating their achievement and success at our awards ceremony tomorrow.”

The awards will be attended by the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Mary Mitchell O’Connor TD who referred to the Government’s investment in the knowledge economy in response to the KTI report.

“Research is firmly on the national agenda with an investment of €727m last year into R&D by Government,” she said. “Through funding for research and development we are helping to stimulate business innovation and turn great ideas into great companies and great jobs.”

The KTI Impact Awards ceremony takes place on Thursday 23 June at the Royal Hospital Kilmainham, Dublin.

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.