Knowledge Transfer Ireland (KTI) has revealed that 748 new collaborative research agreements – a record number – were signed last year between research performing organisations and industry. Knowledge Transfer Ireland is the national office that helps business to benefit from access to Irish expertise and technology by making it simple to connect and engage with the research base in Ireland. KTI acts as the interface between public research and industry through its web portal and manages the €22.8 million Enterprise Ireland Technology Transfer Strengthening Initiative Funding Programme.

The benefits of collaborative research and the ways in which business can advance through research collaboration was discussed at the annual KTI conference today (18th November 2016). A panel of experts from a range of national and international companies and from the Irish research base addressed an audience of over 200 industry and technology transfer professionals. They shared their experience of working together to deliver commercial results, including insights into the benefits of collaborative research and how to address some of the challenges that can arise.

The results of the Annual Knowledge Transfer Survey (AKTS) which tracks engagement and commercialisation activity between the commercial sector and Ireland’s research performing organisations found that in 2015:

· 748 collaborative research agreements were signed representing a 16% increase on 2014.
· 65% of collaboration agreements signed by RPOs (Research Performing Organisations) were with Irish companies.
· 94% of collaborative research agreements with the SME sector were with Irish SMEs.
· There were 1,235 live collaborative research programmes involving RPOs underway at year end.

Speaking at the conference Director of Knowledge Transfer Ireland, Dr Alison Campbell commented, “Knowledge Transfer continues to grow in Ireland. The latest figures around collaborative research – just one aspect of knowledge transfer – are testament to that. We have also seen encouraging growth in the transfer of intellectual property to companies through licensing agreements.” Dr Campbell continued, “And the numbers registered for our conference today indicate that innovation through collaboration with publicly funded research appears to be thriving.”

Dr Campbell also said, “I am delighted that professional support for industry-academic engagement also continues to develop. We now have 34 globally accredited Registered Technology Transfer Professionals (RTTP) in our universities and Institutes of Technology – the highest number of RTTP per capita in the world. Today is about bringing together the knowledge transfer community and industry experts from around the country to highlight the simplest routes to access researcher knowledge and share best practice.”

The conference was opened by Minister for Training, Skills and Innovation John Halligan TD who said, “I am pleased to open this annual conference hosted by Knowledge Transfer Ireland on the theme of research collaboration. Innovation 2020 is a key part of the Government’s strategy to create new jobs and new opportunities through research. Last year the state invested €736m in the research ecosystem in recognition that innovation and research are key drivers of the Irish economy and are crucial for attracting, creating and maintaining high value jobs as well as developing and nurturing a technologically advanced workforce. I am committed to fostering a world class innovation system and greater collaboration between industry and research performing organisations.”

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