Colleges’ umbrella body hopes to double start-ups

By 3rd July 2014 No Comments

computerMouse_largeThe umbrella body for the country’s technology colleges hopes to double the number of start-up companies emerging from them and the level of funding going into them before 2020.

Speaking after yesterday’s launch of a joint R&D and innovation strategy document between Ibec and Institutes of Technology Ireland , Waterford Institute of Technology’s Professor Willie Donnelly said that IoTs can play a key role in driving regional innovation, which will be critical in ensuring future economic growth for the country as a whole.

“The Institutes of Technology Ireland currently generate about €40m-€50m in external research funding per annum, but their impact, in terms of working with industry, runs far deeper. IoTs have a proven ability to engage SMEs in innovation for the first time via short, practical projects and then build that relationship into longer-term research projects that can deliver real growth and transformation,” he said.

Prof Donnelly — who also leads the institutes’ heads of research group — said that one aim of the new strategy is to double that research funding figure in the next five years; reducing the amount coming from State agencies like Enterprise Ireland and the European Commission and increasing what comes from industry, in the process. He also said that there are 300 start-up firms located in innovation centres within institutes’ around the country and that the strategy aims to double that number by 2020.

The 150 projects — ranging from R&D to new product development — currently being collaborated on between IoTs and a range of multinational and indigenous companies is also being targeted to double inside the next two-to-three years.

Education and Skills Minister Ruairi Quinn said that the new strategy “clearly demonstrates” the important role the Institutes of Technology have working with industry and other external partners.

Ibec chief Danny McCoy added: “Enhancing the links between business and higher education is key to Ireland’s plan for economic recovery. The new strategy will play an essential role in this process.”

As published in Irish Examiner Ltd on Thursday, July 3rd By Geoff Percival