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DCU innovation campus looks to expand as it reaches capacity

Centre also in talks about a new private-public partnership at the Dublin facility

Invent DCU was set up in 2001 to forge better links between researchers and industry

Dublin City University’s innovation campus is looking to significantly expand and is also in talks about a private-public partnership (PPP) to create a new co-working space for companies at the facility.

The move comes as Invent DCU and its sister centre DCU Alpha have reached full capacity.

Invent DCU Ltd was set up in 2001 to forge better links between researchers and industry. The purpose-built centre, which has 2,800sq m of incubation space for technology start-up firms, is located on the main DCU campus at Glasnevin.

More than 150 entrepreneurs have based their companies at Invent DCU with 23 current residents including Cruatech, KanTanMT, Sigmoid Pharma, SurgaColl Technologies and Pilot Photonics.

DCU Alpha, a sister centre for more established companies, opened in early 2014. It is now home to 41 companies working on next generation of technologies across cleantech, machine-to-machine communications, sensor tech, wearables, ICT, Industrial automation and connected hardware. Among the firms based at the centre are multinationals such as Siemens and Veolia, along with high potential indigenous start-ups such as Clearstream, Intellicom, Novaerus and Taoglas.

Wider facilities

The centre seeks to encourage companies who graduate from Invent to move on to Alpha, where they can continue to avail of the wider facilities of DCU.

“We didn’t expect to reach full occupancy so quick but we’re obviously delighted to have done so. It is still early days and we have a lot more that we want to do,” said Richard Stokes, chief executive at Invent and DCU’s director of innovation.

“The next step is to refurbish some remaining buildings which are currently vacant to give us more space. We are also working with some international partners with a view of having a PPP for a shared workspace for companies and I expect us to make significant progress on that over the next three to six months,” he added.

Mr Stokes said its value proposition for industry was centred on collaboration opportunities.

“We’ve moved on from the traditional way of doing business where universities attempted to licence existing technologies that they had spent several years developing. It is now all about collaboration based on a shared vision.”

‘University of enterprise’

“All of the initiatives we are undertaking are designed to strengthen the perception that DCU is a university of enterprise and one that is open to working with industry,” he added.

Mr Stokes insisted the decision to expand the facilities had little to do with money.

“We are not a landlord and we’re not interested in being one. What we are focused on is creating an environment in which innovation can flourish and where our students and post-graduates can find employment opportunities,” he said.

His comments come as newly filed accounts for Invent DCU show income for the company that manages the two centres rose to €1.5 million in the 12 months to September 2016. This compares to income of €1.05 million a year earlier.

Invent DCU reported a pretax loss of €510,455, up from €50,106 in the preceding year.

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