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 SFI’s 15th Research Centre, now being officially launched.

ADAPT’s 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 ADAPT’S 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 to other industry where appropriate”. Dublin currently houses five SFI Research Centres.

Technology on my mind

Dublin’s 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.

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 the 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 Dublin’s startup ecosystem even more exciting.


Research Centres

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

Technology Centres

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

National Institutes

Teagasc | Sustainable Food

ICHEC | 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

This article first appeared in The Dublin Globe. For more great stories on Dublin's startup ecosystem, visit their website