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The importance of the publicly funded research system to the success of the Irish economy cannot be underestimated. Every year, dozens of highly innovative spin-off companies emerge from our universities and institutes of technology, creating high value-added jobs and generating new exports in the process.

On Thursday, Big Ideas 2021 will showcase a dozen of the latest companies from this spin-out pipeline.

The event led by Enterprise Ireland gives these companies and their founders a unique opportunity to take center stage and present their companies to an audience of leading Irish researchers as well as Irish investment communities and international.

Big Ideas offers investor-ready start-ups a way to gain support for their business, and investors the opportunity to benefit from the enormous business potential these companies offer.

The event moved to a virtual format last year, which saw attendance drop from 250 in 2019. Up to 2,000 attendees are expected this year.

While the virtual format has some drawbacks, including the lack of face-to-face meetings between developers and potential investors, it also has some advantages, including ease of participation and the ability to attract community interest. foreign investors.

In the years to come, it is likely that Big Ideas will be held as a hybrid event in order to reap the benefits of both formats.

The high level of interest in the event is not surprising given the successful track record of Irish research spinoff companies.

Over the past decade, nearly 200 spin-off companies supported by Enterprise Ireland have emerged from the third tier system and are still active.

Together they employ over 1,200 people in high value-added jobs and spend around 120 million euros per year in the Irish economy.

This does not include the 30 spin-outs which were acquired by foreign companies for an estimated amount of 500 million euros in direct returns to the economy.

Overall, around 15% of the companies that enter Enterprise Ireland’s High Potential Start Up (HPSU) program each year are spin-off companies from the state-funded research system.

They are also Ireland’s main source of high-tech start-ups. Deep technology is the term used for critically important advanced technologies.

These include medical devices, artificial intelligence, robotics, blockchain, advanced materials science, photonics and electronics, as well as biotechnology and computing. quantum – which will drive the industry forward in the years to come and are of vital importance to Ireland’s continued international competitiveness.

Some of the innovations showcased at this year’s Big Ideas event include solutions that address a wide range of issues, including the high cost of outdoor TV shows, motivating kids to exercise in a bigger world. in addition to digital, the lengthening of waiting lists in hospitals and high levels of disengagement. among mobile workers.

These companies all started life the same way, with a researcher who had an idea they believed had commercial potential.

Identifying these researchers and ideas is the work of the Enterprise Ireland commercialization team, which works closely with Technology Transfer Offices (TTOs) at universities and institutes of technology in Ireland.

Our annual Big Ideas event aims to inspire the next generation of researchers to follow in the footsteps of participating spin-off companies and translate their research and innovation into real impact.

This interaction between the Enterprise Ireland team of marketing specialists and the TTOs is extremely important.

TTOs are at the forefront of identifying ambitious researchers whose ideas have real market potential.

The role of the commercialization team is to provide the supports, including funding, mentorship, and connections necessary to bring researchers through the commercialization journey to a point where the project has been scaled down enough that the investment makes sense.

The fruits of this collaboration can be seen in the success of the Irish spin-outs by securing funding from the European Innovation Council (EIC). Five companies supported by Enterprise Ireland received € 21 million under the latest EIC Accelerator call.

These five companies were among 65 projects selected for funding from over 2,700 applications across Europe, and two of them were spin-outs of the Irish third tier system.

  • Gearoid Mooney is Director of Research and Innovation (R&I) at Enterprise Ireland. Full details of the Big Ideas 2021 event are available at www.bigideas.ie

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