There is a research revolution happening in Dublin.
A new breed of organisations spurred with one aim in mind: produce research excellence, which can then be commercialised.
There are currently 38 Research and Technology Centres around the country. Sixteen of them are right here in Dublin, notably the Science Foundation Ireland Research Centres and the Enterprise Ireland/IDA Ireland Technology Centres. These centres represent an evolution of previously existing configurations, now brought together with a reprioritized focus and better intellectual property management.
They tap into talent and data from numerous universities, are industry-led and nimble, and they try to understand commercial realities on a day-to-day basis, striving to produce phenomenal intellectual property, licences and spin-outs. They come from the ethos that bringing different people together stimulates a different and diverse kind of thinking, and they try to leverage the entrepreneurial culture that thrives out of that diversity, says Alison Campbell, Director of Knowledge Transfer Ireland.
Commercialisation in action
On a grey January Dublin afternoon, the Paccar Theatre in the Science Gallery is brimming. The ease with which it is now possible to avail of and commercialise research is on display: 7 spin-outs (companies formed from ideas generated within a centre), 20 patent applications, 55 inventions and software disclosures, and 75 industry partners are achievements already accomplished by SFIs 15th Research Centre, now being officially launched.
ADAPTs researchers, developers, engineers and product strategists aim to make digital content more accessible, user engaging, and less overwhelming. Their researchers have collectively won more than 100m in funding, bridging research and innovation for more than 140 companies to date. This relaunch comes with 50m in new research funding from SFI and industry sources. The magic is cooked in ADAPTS Design and Innovation Lab, the interface between industry and academia.
Spin-outs on display
ADAPT has spawned a number of noteworthy success stories. One of their seven commercial spinouts is Iconic Translation Machines, a language technology software company; last summer, it raised 400,000 in seed funding and hired 15 staff. Co-Founder Dr. Padraic Sheridan is also the Associate Director of ADAPT.
The larger startup community can also avail of their services. Startups can use ADAPT as a hotbed of expertise for their R&D, says ADAPT Communications Manager Olivia Waters. Where startups see an opportunity and come to us, a team from ADAPT will meet with them to establish their requirements and advise from there. If it is not a project for ADAPT we can refer them onto other industry where appropriate. Dublin currently houses five SFI Research Centres.
Technology on my mind
Dublins Technology Centres are concerned with advanced research focused on the bottom line, market-ready product. To distinguish between Research and Technology Centres, a simple way to understand the difference is to explore the Health sector, one of the major areas of focus for both types of organization.
ARCH, a Technology Centre, bases its research on the concept of connected health, the utilisation of connecting communication systems and medical devices. Applied research might explore developing tools that allow clinicians to monitor symptomatic management and general wellness in patients. An SFI research centre such as AMBER, on the other hand, might look at new advance materials to make existing medical devices more innovative and competitive.
Michael OShea, ARCH Centre Director (left) and Andrew Collins from Vu2Vu discussing the potential of Connected Health with Richard Bruton T.D. Minister for Jobs, at the ARCH centre launch in May 2015
Alongside ARCH, there are four more Technology Centres based out of Dublin. One is IC4, whose spinout Rendicity won the DCU Ryan Academy’s top prize in their recent Propeller Showcase Day. Technology Centres generally see less spin-outs, but do have a variety of licences and licensing model agreements that are as welcoming to entrepreneurs as they are to industry. One such success story is Altratech, a novel rapid-diagnostic technology company focused on food safety, animal health and the licensing they did from MCCI.
Ultimately, these centres represent a bold evolution of previously existing configurations, now with an improved focus and better intellectual property management. Together, they make Dublins startup ecosystem even more exciting.
ADAPT | ICT – Digital platforms, Content and Application
AMBER | Health – Medical Devices
CONNECT | ICT – Future Networks and Communications
ICRAG | Energy – Marine Renewable Energy
INSIGHT | |CT and Health – Data Analytics, Management, Security and Privacy
Food For Health | Sustainable Food – Sustainable Food Production and Processing
IC4 | ICT – Digital platforms, Content and Application
Learnovate | ICT – Digital platforms, Content and Application
ARCH | Health – Connected Health and Independent Living
CeADAR | ICT – Data Analytics, Management, Security and Privacy
BDI | Health – Connected health and Independent Living; Medical Devices; Diagnostics
FMC cluster | Innovation in Services and Business Processes | ICT – Digital platforms, Content and Application
SBI | Health – Diagnostics
SEES | Energy – Marine Renewable Energy; Smart Cities and Smart Grids