Innovation Ireland: The latest announcement from Richard Bruton, enterprise &
innovation minister, of the launch of Knowledge Transfer Ireland, provides the
possibility of "making it easier to commercialise, and ultimately create jobs
from, ideas developed through publicly funded research, which currently receives
total funding of over €800m per year."
Knowledge Transfer Ireland (KTI) - - claimed to be the first resource of its
kind in Europe - - is the State-funded central technology transfer office,
located in Enterprise Ireland and operated collaboratively by Enterprise Ireland
and the Irish Universities Association.
The key service offered is a web-portal that enables companies to identify
experts, research centres and technology-licensing opportunities to benefit
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As usual, hard facts are scarce but there is a
Ireland is already scoring top of the class in Europe in terms of knowledge
transfer - the
European Commission Knowledge Transfer Study published in
June 2013, ranked Ireland first (out of 23 countries) in terms of knowledge
transfer performance of public research organisations in individual
countries, and we have also been ranked third in the EU in the "Indicator of
Innovation Output”, which measures the extent to which ideas from innovative
sectors are able to reach the market, providing better jobs and making
Europe more competitive. In addition, Ireland is ranked 10th in the WIPO
Global innovation Index 2013."
There are about 6,000 full-time equivalent
researchers at third level in Ireland and in 2012, the Department of Enterprise
said licensing fees were less than €1m annually.
In Europe total license income amounted to
€436.5m. Out of the total, approximately €256.5m was earned by universities and
approximately €180m by other research organisations. Average license income was
€741,285 at universities and €2,535,857m at other research organisations.
Most of the license income is earned by a small
percentage of PROs (public research organisations). The top 10% respondents to a
European Commission survey showed that universities (35 PROs) earn 86.5% of the
total license income earned by all universities in the sample.
Israel produced the most patent grants with an
average of 35.9 patent grants per 1,000 research staff. Latvia ranks
second with 26.7 patent grants on average per 1,000 research staff and
France ranks third with 18.7 patent grants per 1,000 research staff. Croatia,
Bulgaria and Hungary produced the least patent grants per 1,000 research staff
(see chart above).
According to the European Commission report, the
Czech Republic is the most productive country in generating license income with
on average €3,130,000 per 1,000 research staff. Israel ranks second with on
average €2,081,000 of license income per 1,000 research staff and Belgium ranks
third with on average €2,035,000 of license income per 1,000 research staff.
Ireland's level is below the EU average at
€352,000 but given the researcher level is at 6,000, the number appears
exaggerated and does not tie in with teh Department's total of less than €1m.
Why is there no data on the
number of Irish spinouts and their performance?
As for the Global Innovation Index, the
biggest Irish R&D spenders
are only Irish because they have placed their headquarters in
a recent Brookings Institution paper, in 2012 a year very much
in line with the ten-year trends in this sector, the top 5% of US third level
technology earners (8 universities) took 50% of the total licensing income of
the university system; and the top 10% (16 universities) took 70%, nearly
three-quarters of the system’s income.
130 universities from 155, did not generate enough licensing income in 2012 to
cover the wages of their technology transfer staff and the legal costs for the
patents they file. What is more, with 84% universities operating technology
transfer in the red, 2012 was a good year because over the last 20 years, on
average, 87% did not break even.
Most spinouts do not grow.
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