UP to 30,000 jobs are planned in research spin-off companies under a unique e650 million alliance between the two largest universities, it was announced yesterday.
The plan by Trinity College Dublin (TCD) and University College Dublin (UCD) could create up to 300 companies, with the hope of greater entrepreneurship among the anticipated 1,000 PhD graduates from both campuses, a doubling of numbers.
The vision will require a mix of funding from Government, industry and private sources to come to fruition, but the strongest possible support was promised by Taoiseach Brian Cowen at yesterday’s unveiling of the Innovation Alliance.
Accompanied by Tánaiste Mary Coughlan, who described the plan as a seismic leap forward for job creation, and Education Minister Batt O’Keeffe, Mr Cowen also revealed the formation of an Innovation Task Force, to be chaired by his department’s secretary general Dermot McCarthy, which will have public and private sector input.
TCD provost Dr John Hegarty and UCD president Dr Hugh Brady said their venture is a direct response to the Government’s Smart Economy economic strategy document published before Christmas, but it is also the culmination of more than two years of planning on research collaboration.
The plans will involve a focus on start-up companies, as well as research-led support for indigenous companies and the protection of 150,000 Irish jobs already in existence through foreign direct investment.
“We want to make innovation the third pillar of our universities, along with the traditional ones of teaching and research,” said Dr Brady.
Key aspects of the partnership will be the sharing of research expertise and facilities between the two colleges, whose campuses are a short distance from each other. They will also create a single-transfer technology office, a function of all third level colleges to create links between research and industry, and to commercialise new ideas and inventions.
A business innovation zone between both colleges is also envisaged as a base for many of the companies the universities hope to attract and help establish.
An Innovation Academy will be the other focus, building on areas of combined strength in TCD and UCD, with a focus on PhD training and positioning innovation “centre-stage” in such courses.
The movement of students between both universities will be central, and they will have access to the expertise and resources at both campuses.
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