New figures show rise in spin-out companies and licensing activity

Figures supplied by Knowledge Transfer Ireland also shows increase in new products


Some 30 new companies were spun out of Irish research institutes last year, according to new figures that indicate a rise in levels of licensing activity and new products hitting the market.

Data supplied by Knowledge Transfer Ireland (KTI), the State-funded central technology transfer office founded five years ago to help foster better commercialisation of reseach, shows 124 patents were also filed in 2018 with the university sector accounting for two-thirds of these.

KTI’s annual survey reveals there were 1,824 live research collaborations with industry ongoing at the end of last year, up 38 per cent on 2017. In addition, the number of new products and services coming to market rose from 24to 33 in 2018.

There was a 33 per cent increase in licences, option agreements and assignment agreements last year, the highest number since the survey began five years ago. The majority of licences were signed with Irish companies, of which 61 per cent were with SMEs. Most of the licences were for patents and software.

At the end of last year there were 119 so-called “active spin-outs” in operation, primarily in the ICT and health and med tech sectors. These are companies that have been in business for at least three years.

“This year’s results show that we have developed a strong platform for knowledge transfer in Ireland, that is continuing to mature and evolve,” said Dr Alison Campbell, director of KTI.

“The level of international interest in the Irish system and in KTI has been encouraging. The survey findings confirm the value that enterprise places on accessing Irish research and expertise to drive innovation and the upwards trend in repeat engagements reflects the quality of that experience,” she added.