New software platform ReaDI-Watch simplifies the RD&I process
Platform gives top-level management transparency into R&D performance
Prof Gerry Byrne, GB Innovation Ltd managing director: “ReaDI-Watch is a complete solution that captures all activities and projects and puts them on a single platform to digitise, manage and partially automate the RD&I process.” Photograph: Nick Bradshaw
Prof Gerry Byrne is a former dean of engineering at UCD with over 30 years’ experience in applied research, development and innovation (RD&I). He is very familiar with the lack of end-to-end support for the research and development function within organisations and this led him to create and recently launch ReaDI-Watch, a software platform that brings all of the elements involved in the RD&I value stream together in one place.
RD&I are three of the driving forces that will underpin successful businesses in the future. However, managing R&D performance is a complex task not least because up to now there has been no single way of keeping tabs on what was going on. “Companies are currently investing more for less return in RD&I with no real processes to support it,” Prof Byrne says.
“ReaDI-Watch is a complete solution that captures all activities and projects and puts them on a single platform to digitise, manage and partially automate the RD&I process.”
Prof Byrne has spent the last 10 years in industry working on research and innovation projects. He also served as an expert on the Irish Revenue Panel for R&D Tax Credits and on the Research, Development and Innovation Board of Enterprise Ireland. He set up his company, GB Innovation, in 2014 and its first product, ReaDI-Watch Assessment, was launched last November. The company is based at UCD’s NOVA centre for new ventures and entrepreneurs where it employs four people. This is expected to grow to 10 people in 2019 and to 40 by 2020.
“In 15 years of developing R&D capabilities in both industrial and academic organisations I had never encountered a toolkit that would systematically assess the performance of research and development outputs,” Prof Byrne says. “There are existing metrics that are widely used in academia but they are inapplicable to industry so we have devised our own.
“The ReaDI-Watch platform solves a number of key challenges for RD&I functions within businesses. It gives top-level management transparency into R&D performance. It provides one bespoke platform for data-collation and knowledge transfer for R&D managers. It supports staff and researchers with features and functionalities to streamline the process of research, experimentation, analysis and reporting and it also helps organisations to retain and leverage its research-data where turnover of employees may be high.
“We believe that the working landscape for research, development and innovation will be changed radically by new technological trends such as artificial intelligence, big data analytics and IOT. A robust R&D platform with well-defined structures will be essential for companies looking to use these advancements to make a step-change in their R&D performance,” Prof Byrne says.
Potential customers for ReaDI-Watch will include companies of all sizes that want to formalise and improve their RD&I processes. Most of the pilot work to date has been with companies in the engineering field but Byrne says the system will work for all sectors. “The application of operational excellence is well developed in other business areas but not in R&D. However, as investment in development is going up it’s increasingly important for companies to be able to deliver and manage excellence in their R&D output.”
The company’s initial focus will be the Irish market with the European market to follow in 2019/2020. The company’s revenue model has yet to be finalised but it will be some variation of SaaS. Investment in the ReaDI-Watch concept to date has been in the order of €100,000 which has been privately funded.
“Our competition currently comprises mainly project management software offerings,” Prof Byrne says. “However, we know from our own experience and from market research that these tools lack the structures and functionalities to effectively support complex projects. By contrast the ReaDI-Watch platform provides detailed information to companies and research organisations about their readiness for excellence within RD&I while the toolkit supports senior management through detailed metrics, transparency of information and the de-risking of RD&I.”