Connect 2016 links business with research

Prof Bernard Mahon, Vice-President of Research; Ann Dooley, Enterprise Ireland Commercialisation Specialist; Dr Tim McCarthy, NCG, & Treemetrics CEO Enda Keane.
Tuesday, April 5, 2016 - 08:30

Favourable tax rates, significant funding supports, and access to world class expertise means that there has never been a better time for Irish businesses to collaborate with universities, according to Dr John Scanlan, Director of Commercialisation at Maynooth University.  Dr Scanlan was speaking at Connect 2016 where he addressed more than 170 entrepreneurs and industry partners about how they could emulate the success of companies including Sigmoid Pharma and Treemetrics and benefit from partnerships with universities.

Figures show total export sales of Irish companies that participated in R&D activity, starting from a position of near parity in 2003, outstripped those who did not by a ratio of 4.5:1 over ten years (2003-2013).  As Dr Scanlan observes: “There is a huge opportunity for companies and entrepreneurs that are willing and able to engage with universities.  Companies who have collaborated with Maynooth University have not only leveraged the broad range of supports offered by the university to access world-class expertise and state of the art services and facilities, but have also availed of significant funding supports from Enterprise Ireland, Science Foundation Ireland, and the EU.  With the much talked about “Knowledge Development Box” guaranteeing a favourable tax rate for income generated through R&D investment, we expect to see plenty more businesses partnering with our researchers in the years to come.”
The biennial Connect event reflects the importance that Maynooth University places on commercialisation and its role as a driver of economic growth in Dublin and the Midlands region.  Three recent Maynooth University spin-outs alone have raised more than €20 million in investment and created 50 jobs.  Last year, the University opened its new €20.6 million Eolas building.  The state-of-the art facility serves as a “research powerhouse” that drives innovative teaching methods, fosters collaboration with industry, and deepens the university’s culture of ‘spin-out’ companies.  MaynoothWorks, the business incubation centre that is based in the Eolas building, is now home to ten client companies.
Discussing his company’s collaboration with Maynooth University, Sigmoid Pharma CEO Dr Ivan Coulter said: “Sigmoid is highly collaborative in its approach to research and innovation, and we benefited greatly from working with centres of excellence such as Maynooth University’s Department of Biology. The expertise and insights that we access through collaboration is world class, and we have worked closely with researchers in the development of potentially life changing treatments, including Cycol—a treatment for ulcerative colitis, a condition which affects 1.4 million people worldwide. Cycol is now undergoing late stage clinical trials.”
Treemetrics CEO Enda Keane, another business leader to see his company thrive through collaborating with Maynooth University researchers, added: “Our clients in the global forest industry, both large and small, want to know one thing: how much is their forest worth?  To ascertain this one must compute representative species, volume and timber quality, and identify damage caused by extreme weather events drought, disease, and pest infestation.   Through our collaboration with the Maynooth University’s Social Science Research Institute, we have developed a revolutionary forest management system based upon cutting-edge technological developments.  The researchers at Maynooth completely understand the value and importance of our business and, crucially, they are always excited to tackle any problem we set them.”
Dr Scanlan continued: “The collaborations supported by Maynooth University’s Commercialisation Office, since its foundation, have consistently created sustainable, highly-skilled employment.  We find there is an increased awareness of what our researchers can offer businesses and this, coupled with a renewed focus on innovation, has led to an increase in companies such as Sigmoid and Treemetrics being founded and achieving tremendous success. The knock on effect of this is we are seeing the formation of more spin-out companies from the university, more established companies seeking out Maynooth University expertise, and, crucially, more highly qualified positions being created.”
Maynooth University Vice-President for Research, Professor Bernard Mahon said: “Commercialisation is a central focus for Maynooth University, and the success stories reflect this focus.  Last year we launched MaynoothWorks, our business incubation hub, which provides a space on our campus for those companies who want close proximity to the research and innovation that is consistently being produced by our world-class centres of excellence.  I congratulate Dr Scanlan and his team on their success to date and I look forward to seeing the next wave of commercial partnerships they will foster.”
Maynooth University currently has more than 50 ongoing industry collaborations across multiple disciplines with companies including:

Sigmoid Pharma - Sigmoid Pharma Limited is a specialty pharma company headquartered in Dublin, Ireland.  Sigmoid’s goal is to develop new therapies for unmet clinical needs in gastrointestinal and immunological diseases as well as for immune-oncology related disorders.
The company was founded in 2003 with the vision of developing a new oral drug delivery technology to address the persistent challenges of poor aqueous solubility of small molecules, poor systemic bioavailability of orally administered large molecules, as well as optimising controlled release.
Treemetrics – Treemetrics was founded in 2005 by foresters Enda Keane and Garrett Mullooly.  The company has developed a revolutionary forest management system that caters to both large and small scale foresters.
The system facilitates the classification of representative species, the computation of volume and timber quality, and the identification of damage caused by extreme weather events drought, disease, and pest infestation.  Treemetrics is classified as a High Growth Potential company by Enterprise Ireland.
Verifly - The latest venture from Hailo co-founder Jay Bregman provides web and mobile applications for recreational drone users.  It is based in the MaynoothWorks hub.
Verifly partners with pilots, manufacturers, regulators, insurers and privacy advocates to develop built-in compliance technology.  Verifly provides continuously-updated global data on no-fly zones and works with manufacturers to ensure effortless and comprehensive compliance.   This enabling technology includes: flight and activity restrictions; a secure, global identification registry for pilots and drones; a secure, global registry of drone and operator activity.  

For further information on Maynooth Connect here