The smart economy: NovaUCD helps to ignite the bright sparks

9 Apr 2009

The 2009 NovaUCD programme hopes to spin out fully commercial enterprises to help get the economy back on track.

The NovaUCD 2009 Campus Company Development Programme (CCDP) has just kicked off with the participation of 16 new high-tech and knowledge-intensive business ventures.

In total, 35 researchers are taking part in this enterprise support programme, which assists UCD academic entrepreneurs spin out their innovative ideas from intellectual concepts to fully commercial business enterprises.

NovaUCD is responsible for the commercialisation of intellectual property (IP) arising from UCD research programmes. NovaUCD also provides entrepreneurs and knowledge-based start-up companies with a comprehensive business support programme, including the CCDP, along with incubation facilities.

The ventures participating in this year’s programme are commercialising research undertaken in disciplines ranging from agriculture, bioinformatics, computer science, education, engineering, physics and veterinary medicine.

Some of the 16 companies include Agri-Time, which is developing real-time data, information and decision support tools for time-critical applications on farms. It’s being pioneered by Professor Nick Holden of the UCD School of Agriculture, Food and Veterinary Medicine. Another company from the aforementioned school is Inviver, which is exploiting research on infectious disease to develop diagnostics and vaccines.

A spin-out from UCD School of Biomolecular and Biomedical Science, under Dr Jens Erik Nielsen and Dr Gianluca Pollastri, is Peat Distill, which is developing a suite of software packages for the biomolecular, pharmaceutical and protein engineering industry.

Arising from the UCD School of Computer Science and Informatics, TraceHunter is developing forensic software providing comprehensive information about user activities to forensic investigators.

Dr Pat Frain, director, NovaUCD, explained: “Such new ventures are now of critical importance as they form the backbone of the Government’s vision for Ireland’s economic future and the building of a smart economy.”

Now in its 14th year, over 140 ventures and 210 individuals have now completed this NovaUCD enterprise programme, which is supported by Enterprise Ireland.

Former programme participants includes companies such as BiancaMed, Celtic Catalysts, ChangingWorlds, CRDS, Haptica and TopChem — collectively, these former participants employ some 750 people.

The CCDP is a nine-month, part-time programme designed to suit the busy timetable of researchers and academics.

It offers a fusion of monthly workshops, mentoring and one-to-one consultancy.

Participants on the programme have the opportunity to access NovaUCD’s desk space and incubation facilities and associated services. The programme culminates with a high-profile Awards Evening, held in November each year.

Asimil8, an e-learning venture, co-founded in 2008 by Paul Groarke and Garrett Hussey, was the overall winner of the NovaUCD 2008 CCDP.

Asimil8 — which has developed a next-generation learning platform to provide immersive education for languages and other subjects using virtual world and gaming technologies — has been in the news recently as it was the overall winner of the Bright Ideas Challenge at Bank of Ireland’s Business Advice Show in March.

By Carmel Doyle

PIctured: NovaUCD

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic