Research & Innovation

Strong Performance in Irish Knowledge Transfer System With New Licences Up 33% in 2018

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Strong Performance in Irish Knowledge Transfer System With New Licences Up 33% in 2018

Strong Performance in Irish Knowledge Transfer System With New Licences Up 33% in 2018
August 01
10:10 2019

Knowledge Transfer Ireland (KTI), the state body that works to make it easier for businesses to access publicly-funded research, has launched its 2018 Review and the findings of its Annual Knowledge Transfer Survey (AKTS). The results of the 5th annual survey point to solid increases in levels of licensing activity, spin-out company formation and new products reaching the market.

As part of its work, KTI collects and analyses data from Ireland’s universities, Institutes of Technology (IoTs) and other State-funded research organisations, to produce the Annual Knowledge Transfer Survey (AKTS) in conjunction with the Higher Education Authority (HEA). The survey covers activities including licensing, collaboration, consultancy and spin-out creation.

Key 2018 findings:

  • 1,824 live research collaborations with industry at year end – an increase of 38% on 2017
  • 124 patent filings with the university sector accounting for 76% of these
  • 33 new products and services launched to the market – up from 24 in 2017
  • 30 new spin-out companies created – up from 21 in 2017
  • 80% of collaboration agreements signed with Irish companies.

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys, TD said: “A core ambition in Future Jobs Ireland, our new whole-of-Government framework to prepare Ireland for the economy of tomorrow, is to strengthen links between businesses and academia. This is with a view to supporting knowledge spillovers, collaborative working and information sharing. Ireland is increasingly viewed as a model of best practice in knowledge transfer on the international stage, by virtue of its structure, support and performance. Since KTI’s launch 5 years ago, we have achieved a lot and the results of today’s survey are really encouraging for Ireland’s future growth.”

There was a 33% increase in licences, option agreements and assignment agreements in 2018, the highest number since the survey began. The majority of licences were signed with Irish companies (76%) of which 61% were with Irish SMEs. Most of the licences were for patents and software.

On average there are 30 new companies spinning out from Irish research each year. There were 119 Active Spin-outs (at least three years post formation) in operation at the end of 2018, primarily in the ICT (35%) and health and med tech (27%) sectors.

Dr. Alison Campbell (pictured right), Director of KTI, commented: “This year’s results show that we have developed a strong platform for knowledge transfer in Ireland, that is continuing to mature and evolve. The level of international interest in the Irish system and in KTI has been encouraging. The survey findings confirm the value that enterprise places on accessing Irish research and expertise to drive innovation and the upwards trend in repeat engagements reflects the quality of that experience.

“We also see a continuing move in 2018 from a transactional model between research and industry that requires negotiations for each new project, towards a relationship model, leading to the accelerated translation of research into products. As evidence of this, there were 365 repeat collaborations in 2018, an increase of 19% year on year. Our focus will be to build on this momentum of qualitative progress as well as increased volumes.”

Paul O’Toole (pictured left), CEO at the Higher Education Authority (HEA), said: “We work to build Ireland’s research capacity and to enhance the responsiveness of higher education institutions to the needs of society. We are pleased to support KTI in collating these important data each year and we are very encouraged by the performance of the higher education sector in the context of knowledge transfer as evidenced by the latest results.  This survey is an important contribution to ensuring transparency in the reporting of higher education institutions participation in knowledge transfer. Our aim is to enable institutions to work on a commercial basis with enterprise while preserving the public interest appropriately.”

The Review and Annual Knowledge Transfer Survey (AKTS) can be accessed at

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