KTI report: Research commercialisation in Ireland is thriving

21 Jun 2018

Business and research collaboration is producing great results. Image: LightField Studios/Shutterstock

Findings from Knowledge Transfer Ireland show collaboration between organisations and researchers is resulting in new jobs, companies and products.

Knowledge Transfer Ireland (KTI), the national office helping business and research to collaborate, has today (21 June) published its annual report examining business engagement and research commercialisation activity in the country.

According to the report, 2017 saw 1,324 active research collaborations with industry, the launch of 24 new products and services, and the creation of 915 jobs in Ireland. A total of 164 licence agreements were signed last year, with 82pc of those signed with Irish companies.

Knowledge Transfer Ireland driving new products to market

Director of KTI, Dr Alison Campbell, explained the office helps to drive commercialisation from Ireland’s research base and described the collaborative atmosphere as “flourishing”. She also noted how Irish SMEs are reaping the benefits of the work carried out with the help of KTI: “In 2017, 82pc of companies that signed collaboration agreements with research-performing organisations were based in Ireland and 94pc of collaboration agreements signed with the SME sector were with Irish SMEs.

“More generally, over 1,000 different companies have signed agreements with RPOs [research performing organisations] relating to research-related projects and there are over 300 companies for whom this is a repeat engagement over the past three years.”

Long-term success

Dr Campbell also noted that KTI’s long-term monitoring of system performance allows it to track commercialisation outcomes and it found that a significant number of spin-out companies remain active for three or more years after they are initially formed. She added that there is a steady volume of products and services making it to market “based on ideas and technology from State-funded research”.

Prof Anita Maguire of UCC explained how working alongside KTI has benefited business and research alike: “UCC intellectual property (IP) is found in products ranging from microelectronics to digestive health to anti-money-laundering software. Recently, two of our spin-out companies, based on IP emanating from research programmes over the past two decades, have been acquired by major international multinationals: Oculus and Agilent.

“Most significantly, the acquirers have decided to invest locally and retain R&D activities in the region close to the research expertise, creating high-value, long-term employment opportunities for our graduates and bringing significant inward investment.”

Minister for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development John Halligan, TD, said that innovation was the cornerstone for maintaining competitiveness in a global marketplace and stressed the importance of harnessing innovation for Irish businesses. He added: “The Government is committed to helping companies turn good ideas into innovative products and services and ultimately jobs.

“With a skilled technology transfer resource in the publicly funded research sector and an active innovation system, I am confident we can further KTI’s work to make research collaboration and commercialisation simple and accessible.”

Check out the infographic below for some key figures gleaned from the report.

KTI Infographic

Infographic: Knowledge Transfer Ireland (Click to enlarge)

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects