University College Cork collaborating with Statistical Solutions - Dr Brian O'Flaherty
Cork-based SME Statistical Solutions has been working with Dr Brian O’Flaherty and his team at UCC since 2010. The company specialises in statistical analysis software used primarily for statistical calculations in medical trials. The original piece of work began with Dr O’Flaherty undertaking a detailed project to evaluate the company’s business model and suggest opportunities for growth. This resulted in a recommendation to diversify the company’s business and a full research collaboration followed that gave rise to an innovative new software analytics service platform product being developed, called PX. This product helps subscription based retailers in the publishing industry predict churn and has positioned Statistical Solutions for future growth in this sector. The software was licensed to Statistical Solutions who created a new company called PX Analytics to commercialise the software and the first products have already been sold. Through this collaboration, Statistical Solutions is now looking to double their subscription business within 18 months. Dr O’Flaherty has gained valuable insight into the area of entrepreneurship, business transformation, service innovation and the issues faced by SMEs. UCC has developed deep links with the company whose CEO, Mary Byrne now sits on the board of the IGNITE Graduate Business Innovation Programme and is involved in various aspects of the entrepreneurship space at UCC.
Trinity College Dublin and Monford AG Systems - Prof Mike Jones, Dr Jake Byrne, Dr Hitesh Tewari, Dr Matt Saunders
This project has resulted in a new, simple and effective way for feedstock management. While filming “Farmers – A Year on the Land”, filmmaker Stephen Lock recognised the opportunity to develop an accurate, inexpensive and easy-to-use grass measurement tool for farmers. He met Trinity’s TTO team to understand how he could engage with Trinity to validate his concept and develop a prototype. The TTO team made the connections. Monford AG Systems, had previously worked with Trinity in 2010, so there was an ideal fit with the multi-disciplinary team assembled from Trinity’s Schools of Computer Science & Statistics and Natural Sciences. Monford AG Systems develops innovative hardware and software solutions for measuring and recording agricultural activity, specifically in the area of natural feed measurement, combining mapping and wearable sensor technology, to measure grass growth. In 2011 they started the project that was key to developing the grass measurement product envisaged by Stephen Lock - the GrassOmeter. GrassOmeter utilises the latest sensor and computer technologies to make accurate grass measurement and recording quick and simple for any grassland farm. Using ultrasound to measure grass height as the farmer walks around a field with a device from which measurements are sent to the farmer’s smartphone using Bluetooth where an app will carry out the calculations. GrassOmeter is a complete mapping, measurement and management system for the grassland farm, cutting farming costs and giving animals the best quality feedstuff more of the time. Based on the consultancy with Trinity, Monford AG Systems launched GrassOmeter onto the market in 2015. The company has secured €1.4 million in funding, registered two patents including Trinity researchers as named inventors and hired an ex-Apple hardware designer as Head of Design. The sharing of the GrassOmeter data with the School of Natural Sciences has been beneficial to Trinity researchers and Prof. Jones provides ongoing consultancy advice. As GrassOmeter’s feature set is developing, Monford plans to undertake further research and development with Trinity.
Trinity College Dublin - Graphene Licences to Thomas Swan
A number of licence agreements were executed between Trinity College Dublin and Thomas Swan in 2014 and 2015 which relate to graphene and other two-dimensional (2D) material. Thomas Swan, a UK-based fine chemical manufacturing company, has since launched both Graphene and Boron Nitride products on the market. These products are now recognised globally as the best in class materials and were featured as the cover story of Chemical and Engineering News under the headline “Graphene Global Race to Market”. The intellectual property that was licensed to Thomas Swan was developed during a collaborative research project between the company and a team led by Professor Jonathan Coleman at Trinity College. Targeted at the market requirement for large volume, single atom thick graphene sheets of materials for a wide array of high value end products, the research resulted in two associated process patents which Trinity has made available to Thomas Swan through an exclusive licence to graphene production and a non-exclusive licence to Transition Metal Dichalcogenides (TMDs). This Trinity technology has also resulted in a separate, non-exclusive license to a multi-national company and growing interest from industry for additional research collaborations in relation to 2D materials. Trinity’s Technology Transfer Office was heavily involved in this process from the initial expression of interest to the contract negotiations and management of the commercialisation and patenting strategy for the project outputs.
AventaMed DAC - Cork Institute of Technology (Academic Founders: John Vaughan and Olive O'Driscoll)
AventaMed is an award-winning spin-out from the Medical Engineering Design and Innovation Centre (MEDIC) within the Cork Institute of Technology (CIT). It is a medical device company focused on simplifying Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) surgical procedures to reduce healthcare costs and improve patient safety. The company’s first product is a medical device which places grommets in childrens’ ears, without the need for a full general anaesthetic. In September 2015, AventaMed closed a €1.3 million funding round. This funding has allowed the founders of the company to take up full-time positions at AventaMed and move the business into the Rubicon Centre, CIT’s business incubator. It has enabled AventaMed to design, develop and certify its Quality Management System to comply with the medical device ISO 13485 standard. AventaMed has grown its team and is focused on completing clinical studies on the product and obtaining regulatory approval. The funding will also allow the company to develop its sales and distribution channels to make the product available to ENT surgeons worldwide. The Industry Liaison Office (ILO) in CIT was instrumental in the successful application for Enterprise Ireland Commercialisation Funding which supported the early development of the product. Once the initial concept had been developed, the CIT ILO managed the invention disclosure and patent strategy. Subsequently the ILO facilitated the creation of the campus company and negotiated a licence agreement to the intellectual property and a shareholders agreement in which CIT took a minority shareholding.
Mature Spin-out Company
Logentries - University College Dublin (Academic Founders: Dr Trevor Parsons and Dr Viliam Houm)
In October 2015 Rapid7 Inc. (NASDAQ:RPD), a leading provider of security data and analytics solutions,acquired Logentries, a UCD spin-out company, for an aggregate purchase price of $68 million. Logentries emerged from UCD’s Performance Engineering Lab (PEL) in the UCD School of Computer Science, specifically from a collaboration between PEL and IBM which led to the creation of the ‘Real Time Correlation Engine’ (RTCE). RTCE had traditionally been applied for security and compliance purposes but Dr Trevor Parsons and Dr Viliam Holub, having worked on the project with IBM, recognised potential applications for RTCE in other areas ranging from IT operations to web marketing. They developed the original version of an innovative cloud-based solution for searching, visualising, and analysing machine data and this led to the establishment of Logentries. In 2012, Logentries secured $1 million in seed funding which was followed by a further $10 million funding round in 2013. The investment facilitated the deployment of an innovative cloud-based solution that was five-to-ten times faster than competing solutions and at a lower cost. The company rapidly grew to 70 employees serving more than 3,000 customers in over 65 countries and analysing 100 billion discrete events per day. UCD’s TTO at NovaUCD has a well-established relationship with PEL and supported various funding applications that helped to develop the expertise in RTCE. The TTO led negotiation of the collaborative agreements with IBM and supported the company through its NovaUCD Campus Company Development Programme. The TTO also led the review and negotiation of the investment agreements on behalf of UCD throughout the significant funding rounds that took place in 2012 and 2013.
Knowledge Transfer Initiative of the Year
Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland - Building a Knowledge Transfer Culture
In 2014 RCSI launched its new Office of Research and Innovation (ORI) incorporating commercialisation and industry engagement functions with the Research Office. A new team was recruited with the goal of working with RCSI PIs to ensure that RCSI research is given the best opportunity to make economic and societal impact through the provision of customer-orientated industry engagement and research commercialisation services to researchers and industry partners. The new team quickly recognised a step-change was required in RCSI researcher engagement in knowledge transfer activities in order to achieve this goal. “Building a Culture of Knowledge Transfer at RCSI” was a new strategic initiative launched by the team in 2015 to bring about this change. The initiative centered on three thematic areas, namely (1) empowering RCSI Researchers (2) recognising and celebrating research commercialisation and industry engagement success and (3) streamlining research commercialisation and the industry engagement process. The impact of this strategic initiative is profound against the baseline. It is evidenced by RCSI having exceeded the 2015 targets that it set for knowledge transfer by between two and three-fold. Industry income has increased more than four-fold from 2014 levels to €1.2M (cash and in-kind), licence option and assignment agreements increased over four-fold and industry agreements increased seven-fold in the same period. Over three-quarters of the RCSI PI base are now being actively supported by the team.
Knowledge Transfer Achiever of the Year 2016
Derek John-University College Cork
Dr Derek John has had a tremendous impact on knowledge transfer activities in support of UCC commercialisation during 2015 having only joined the team the previous year. His impact is also felt outside UCC with overwhelmingly positive feedback from industry partners. Highlights from 2015 include a €7.5m collaboration with AbbVie and a multimillion euro deal with Jannsen Pharmaceuticals for IBD therapeutics.