UL innovation centre to house 35 new start-ups

21 Nov 2011

Tierney Building at University of Limerick

University of Limerick’s new innovation centre, the Tierney Building, has opened today. As well as housing emerging university spin-outs, it will also host Lero – the Irish Software Engineering Research Centre.

Ireland’s Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan TD officially opened the Tierney Building today.

Minister Noonan spoke about how the new innovation centre will house both cutting-edge software engineering research together with a centre that will support the growth of new high-potential start-ups (HPSUs).

This campus facility is set to support the formation and growth of 35 new HPSUs between 2011 and 2016. Between them these HPSUs are expected to create at least 115 new high-value jobs.

The overarching aim of the UL innovation centre is to increase regional entrepreneurship with an international trading focus.

It will provide dedicated business incubation space and support services for start-up companies whose activities are aligned with UL research strengths.

Lero – software engineering research

Lero is basing itself at the innovation centre. It was established in 2005 as a Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Science Engineering and Technology (CSET). Since then, Lero has raised the level and profile of Irish software engineering research so that it is now one of the best-known software engineering research centres in the world.

Lero’s director, Prof Mike Hinchey, said today that the building will provide a home and focal point for Lero researchers from multiple institutions and a venue for engaging with industry partners, international collaborators and Government agencies.

“The new Tierney Building, as home to the SFI-funded centre, Lero, represents an exciting axis of innovation not only for the mid-west region, but for Ireland Inc. at home and abroad,” said the director-general of Science Foundation Ireland, Dr Graham Love, today.

Technology transfer and spin-outs

The UL Innovation Centre also has dedicated units for supporting new technology-based businesses.

The innovation centre will aim to support transformation of new knowledge into commercially viable opportunities and become a hub for regional innovation.

Successful spin-outs to emerge from UL in recent time include Powervation, Stokes Bio and Crescent Diagnostics.

Today Minister Noonan spoke about how Ireland has built up an impressive record in scientific research in recent years.

“If we are to get out of our present difficulties, we must now use this base to commercialise more ideas, create more Irish businesses, and attract and embed more multinational investment. Turning good ideas into good jobs: that is what SFI’s research centres, such as the Lero CSET, and funded teams are about,” he added.

UL president, Prof Don Barry spoke about how UL started out with a “pioneering vision of innovation, excellence and a commitment to building strong industry collaborations”.

“We are now even more focused on research that can assist companies enhance their own research and development capabilities and support them in obtaining or maintaining a competitive advantage in the marketplace,” he said.  


UK’s vice-president for Research, Dr Mary Shire, spoke about UL’s strong track record for spin-outs.

“UL has a strong track record in spin-out companies and has gained experience through this that will benefit start-up companies that locate in the innovation centre,” she said.

Feargal Ó Móráin, executive director of Enterprise Ireland, spoke about how Incubation centres greatly enhance the survival and growth prospects of start-up campus companies.  

Enterprise Ireland has already invested €50m in campus incubation centres, across the island, which between them house 300 companies, employing over 1,300 people.”

The Irish Government has supported the overall project with the assistance of the European Regional Development Fund through PRTLI 4, Enterprise Ireland, Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, the Higher Education Authority.

The Tierney Building is supported by Dr Dan Tierney. Originally from Limerick, Dr Tierney has been a director of the UL Foundation since 1993. He is chairman of Bimeda Holdings.

UL was recently awarded a five-star rating for innovation by the international, independent ratings company, QS Stars.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic