NCAD is putting research, teaching and learning together to create a vibrant educational programme as well as opportunities to spin ideas out into viable companies.
For the National College of Art and Design (NCAD) Dublin, an increased focus on commercialising research and working more closely with industry is all about adding to the educational offer. “The money’s nice from the research with industry, and the partnerships we develop are obviously vitally important to the college, but it’s really the education that comes first,” says Derek McGarry, head of design innovation and commercialisation and project manager at NCAD’s new technology transfer office, Origin8.
“It’s about putting our research, teaching and learning to use and trying to create the most vibrant and meaningful educational programme we can, both at undergraduate and graduate level.”
Origin8 was set up in 2013 and the college – which has around 1,500 students across four schools – now averages about 50 client-based projects a year. “One of the nice things about running the technology transfer office here at NCAD is that the phone is red hot,” says McGarry
“To date we’ve had three Enterprise Ireland Commercialisation Fund projects. We attracted our first funding in 2013 for two companies – Gazel and Obeo, which are both productbased – and they spun out in April and May of 2014. We recently attracted funding for a wheelchair accessory from Cara Mobility and that will spin out in 2016.”
The first two companies accounted for 7% of the total number of spin outs in Irish third level education in 2014. “We’re seen in many ways to be over achieving given the scale we operate on and our capacity,” says McGarry.
NCAD’s approach to entrepreneurship is about trying to embed the curriculum with opportunities to work with the external world, whether it’s industry or with community engagement.
“Our strategy for growing commercialisation and enterprise at NCAD is to continue to develop innovative real-world partnerships
with industry and other research specialists to maximise the potential of knowledge exchange clusters and what NCAD can contribute,”