Open Labs To Help SMEs Tap Academic Expertise

08 Feb 2018 | 12.43 pm

Open Labs To Help SMEs Tap Academic Expertise

DIT Hothouse scheme connects entrepreneurs with researchers

08 Feb 2018 | 12.43 pm

A new initiative by DIT Hothouse is aiming to connect entrepreneurs with a team of more than 600 researchers, in the hope of promoting research in key technological areas.

Hothouse is DIT’s knowledge transfer centre, charged with commercialising the intellectual property arising from DIT research. Its new initiative, Open Labs, will provide SMEs and entrepreneurs with funding guidance and access to technical expertise that they might not otherwise be able to utilise.

The team of DIT researchers and experts will provide support to early-stage research and innovation in the areas of product prototyping, virtual reality, the internet of things, data analysis for business and specialised surface coatings.

A number of successful companies have already come from DIT Hothouse – a recent example being Kastus. The firm used DIT research into antimicrobial surfaces to build a business, raising €1.5m in December 2016.

According to Paul Maguire, senior innovation portfolio manager in DIT Hothouse, Open Labs will foster greater collaboration between DIT researchers and SMEs. “Early stage research is often high risk and requires significant investment, meaning many small businesses are effectively restrained from developing product ideas,” he explained.

“Open Labs will allow a company to develop a product idea using DIT researcher expertise, labs and equipment, essentially creating an external R&D wing for the company.”

Maguire added that the Open Labs process is designed to be business-friendly, with a team of DIT researchers working to complete an R&D project in a mutually agreed timespan. “Open Labs will support a business through each product development phase from writing the technical brief, outlining what research skills and lab equipment are required, evaluating funding options, and finally the timely delivery of the product to suit business needs.”

The Open Labs team will also help businesses figure out what funding option best suits them, e.g. state, private or collaborative options. “Once the funding option is agreed upon, we will support the business through each step of the funding application process,” said Maguire.

Businesses can register their interest with Open Labs by DIT Hothouse here.

Photo (l-r): Dr Pearl O’Rourke (DIT), Dr Paul Maguire (DIT Hothouse) and Dr Brian Vaughan (DIT) (Pic: Jason Clarke)

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