By @SimonCocking. Interesting interview with  Patrick Prendergast Provost & President since 2011

Bringing together European entrepreneurs. EIT Digital 21 March 2017, Brussels

We were over in Brussels to cover EIT Digital’s annual event to show case innovation and scaling up. The event aimed to give a snapshot of the latest trends in digitalisation and a chance to meet the people driving Europe’s digital transformation. Interestingly, despite Ireland not having a direct involvement in the EIT Digital working group, they had invited Patrick Prendergast, TCD Provost to give a keynote speech at it.

It turned out that, while Ireland is not a member of EIT Digital, Patrick is on the board on the wider EIT EU board. Talking with him, and reading between the lines, it was clear that in the future it could well be an advantageous place for Ireland to be involved, both for TCD and the wider academic community too. As universities rapidly evolve to reflect an understanding of the need to have a clearer process between academic discoveries and commercial applications of their benefits, it is vitally important to have a transparent, supportive and helpful process to enable this to happen.

Half way through his ten year tenure as Provost of Trinity. It is clear Prendergast has a clear understanding of the need to support entrepreneurial initiatives, and encourage students to understand and develop potential business ideas. With the work of John Whelan and others in supporting the on campus incubator Launchbox, and also the work of the Office of Corporate Partnership and Knowledge Exchange. There are many great examples of Trinity’s attempts to support as effectively as possible, the growth of potential businesses from within the campus.

When we asked him about whether we had reached the point of peak ‘wantrepreneurs’. He countered that it was a good thing to aspire to have your own business, and that it was a important to support and encourage such aspirations. He also pointed out that TCD has the infrastructure and support systems to encourage students to actually test their business ideas and see if they had actual mileage in them. Overall he delivered a positive message to the audience at the EIT Digital event in Brussels, and also to those back at home. Ireland is still a vibrant, positive place to come and do business, and develop your business ideas. TCD itself is also going through it’s latest series of expansions, both on the original campus, and also at it’s new site, ‘a mere 7 minutes away, and I know because I have walked it’ as he energetically explained, conveying his positive enthusiasm for the changes still taking place on Trinity’s historic grounds.

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