Expanded NovaUCD opens up for high-tech start-ups

28 Oct 2021

From left: Prof Orla Feely, UCD vice-president for research, innovation and impact; Taoiseach Micheál Martin, TD; and Tom Flanagan, UCD director of enterprise and commercialisation. Image: Nick Bradshaw/Fotonic

The entrepreneur centre at University College Dublin is looking to help high-tech start-ups scale, and will now have space for 450 founders and their teams.

A €6.7m expansion of NovaUCD was officially opened by Taoiseach Micheál Martin, TD, today (28 October).

The addition of 800 sq m of licensable space at the University College Dublin (UCD) entrepreneur centre will give NovaUCD the capacity for 50pc more start-ups.

Since it first launched in 2003, NovaUCD has supported start-ups such as regtech Corlytics, equine genomics company Equinome and big data business Logentries, which was acquired in 2015 for $68m. To date, it has been a launchpad for more than 400 early-stage ventures.

The expanded NovaUCD centre includes more than 20 business units and laboratories as well as a new co-working space, and will now be able to accommodate 450 founders and their teams.

‘With NovaUCD’s strong track record, and now with its significant increase in capacity, I am sure it will continue to flourish in the future’

“We are substantially increasing our capacity to support the development and scaling of high-tech start-ups in line with Shaping the Future, UCD’s strategy for research, innovation and impact,” said Prof Orla Feely, UCD’s vice-president for research, innovation and impact.

NovaUCD is well positioned to support research spin-outs from the university. Tom Flanagan, director of enterprise and commercialisation at UCD, said the university has doubled the number of start-ups spinning out of research in recent years. “We have supported them to more than triple the seed investment they attract,” he added.

“We have also increased the number of accelerator programmes we run with partners such as the European Space Agency, Ericsson, Vodafone, Enterprise Ireland and IADT Media Cube, so the timing is right for this expansion.”

The expansion project involved the renovation of NovaUCD’s east courtyard, and start-ups already based in this wing include Equal1 and Manna.

Equal1 is a quantum computing start-up that has secured more than €10m in funding to focus on meeting the demand for affordable, compact and functional quantum computers. Earlier this year, it said it made a “major breakthrough” for the industry.

Manna, meanwhile, is making a name for itself in the world of drone technology. It recently raised $25m as it prepares to expand beyond its testing phases.

At today’s opening, the Taoiseach received tech demos from Equal1, Manna and other resident start-ups such as Output Sports and PlasmaBound.

Martin said NovaUCD has become “one of the leading hubs in Ireland’s start-up ecosystem supporting ambitious entrepreneurs and innovative high-tech companies” in recent years.

“With NovaUCD’s strong track record, and now with its significant increase in capacity, I am sure it will continue to flourish in the future as it continues to assist entrepreneurs who want to locate at NovaUCD and leverage its excellent facilities, accelerator programmes, expertise and network to help them to grow and scale their start-ups on the global stage.”

With additional reporting from Sarah Harford

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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.