Director general of Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), Prof Mark Ferguson, spoke at Tyndall National Institute Technology Days about the crucial role serial entrepreneurs play in Irish research.

As part of SFI’s remit, the organisation is always trying to promote greater cooperation between the two worlds of academia and industry, to turn scientific concepts into flourishing businesses.

However, equally important to the development of Irish research, Ferguson said, are those who have taken the first step, but want to build an entirely new venture from potentially game-changing research.

He said that these serial entrepreneurs are key to Irish research progressing to the big stage simply because they have evaluated the risks from their early experience in the market.

“You typically see that the second time around, they are more willing to take risks and put more of their own capital on board,” he said.

This plays into his belief that in the scientific community, it is not detrimental to research that companies are bought; it is more of a problem when there are many companies that no one wants to buy.

“[Serial entrepreneurs are] terrific and what the ecosystem is all about,” Ferguson said.

Words by Colm Gorey