Against the backdrop of glorious sunshine, Ireland’s Taoiseach Enda Kenny, TD, turned up at University College Dublin (UCD) yesterday to officially open NexusUCD, the new industry-academia innovation centre. A blend of nine firms and research initiatives are already housed in NexusUCD, including ResMed Sensor Technologies. It plans to create 50 new jobs at the centre over the next three years.
You may remember the start-up BiancaMed, which was spawned from research at UCD into sleep-monitoring technologies to help treat conditions such as sleep apnea. In 2011, San Diego, California-based multinational ResMed acquired BiancaMed. ResMed is a leading sleep and respiratory medical technology player.
Yesterday, at the official opening of NexusUCD, which has been operating since the start of the year, ResMed announced it is to locate its global research and product development centre for sensor technology at the UCD campus, creating up to 50 new jobs within the next three years as part of the migration.
On the innovation pulse
Right now, nine industry and research centres have chosen to base themselves at NexusUCD in order to tap into the research tapestry happening at the university and to enhance their innovations.
Including ResMed, these companies and centres are ARCH (Applied Research for Connected Health); CeADAR (Centre for Applied Data Analytics Research); Data Analytics Institute; EnvEcon; IRIS; Pinergy; Renetech and ResMed Sensor Technologies.
Scope to create 300 R&I jobs down the line
NexusUCD, which contains more than 100 offices, has the scope to house up to 300 highly skilled research and innovation jobs, UCD believes.
The idea of the centre is that advanced industry players can locate on the campus and feed into the university’s research base in order to propel new innovations. It seems to tap into the quadruple-helix formula of Open Innovation 2.0, described recently by Intel vice-president Martin Curley at a Dublin conference.
NexusUCD is aiming to build upon existing UCD enterprise centres, such as the early stage start-up centre NovaUCD and NIBRT (National Institute for Bioprocessing Research and Training). This is a global IDA-funded centre for training and research in bioprocessing
Kenny officially opened the new 5,250 sq-metre NexusUCD centre yesterday.
At the launch, Kenny reiterated the Government’s aim to make Ireland the "best small country" in the world in which to do business.
"By promoting innovation in Irish business and education, we will make Irish high-value goods and services more attractive across the world," he said.
Building closer links between industry and higher-education institutions will be "essential", explained Kenn,y if Ireland is to be promoted as the "innovation island".
At the event, the Taoiseach also formally opened the offices and laboratories of ResMed Sensor Technologies at NexusUCD.
Med-tech and healthcare innovations driven in Ireland
Before it was acquired by ResMed in 2011, BiancaMed was co-founded by UCD researchers Dr Conor Hanley, Prof Conor Heneghan and Dr Philip de Chazal to commercialise their research into sleep-monitoring technology.
Hanley is now senior vice-president, ResMed Ventures & Initiatives.
Yesterday, he said ResMed chose NexusUCD based on the "excellent" facilities available and its proximity to UCD and affiliated research hospitals.
"Together they deliver an ecosystem that is vital to our innovation and growth," explained Hanley.
Driving economic recovery through open communication
Meanwhile, UCD has apparently secured more than 350 research partnerships with industry partners.
Prof Peter Clinch, UCD vice-president for Innovation, described UCD’s vision to be one of the drivers of economic recovery in Ireland.
"As such, the university is actively supporting the transition to a sustainable Irish economy based on innovation, education, enterprise and exports," he said.
He said that through the establishment of NexusUCD and by supporting technology centres such as the CeADAR (data analytics) and ARCH (connected health) based in the building, UCD is demonstrating its evolution into an enterprise campus.
Finally, ResMed CEO Michael Farrell spoke remotely to the gathering at NexusUCD yesterday. He said ResMed is successful because of the innovation the firm brings to the marketplace.
NexusUCD, he explained, will play host to key ResMed teams focused on sensor technologies and beyond.
"The ultimate goal from this innovation is to make healthcare and wellness more accessible and to change millions of lives for the better," said Farrell.
Last week, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) revealed the top 10 nations for driving innovation in its 2013 edition of the Global Innovation Index. Ireland managed to glean 10th spot on the list, while Switzerland came out tops for innovation.
In total, the report evaluated 142 economies around the world for their innovation strengths.