Brussels, 16 Jan 2004
The coordinator of Ireland's Innovation Relay Centre (IRC), Jim Cuddy, has said that his top priorities for the Irish EU Presidency and beyond are to demonstrate the potential of technology transfer to a broader range of companies, and to raise awareness of innovation among young people and the general public in Ireland.
In an interview with the newly launched CORDIS Irish Council Presidency service, Mr Cuddy said: 'In Ireland, funding is available for internal R&D [research and development], but very little is allocated to encouraging external acquisition of technology, so there is something of a technology transfer deficit. We think that technology transfer is particularly appropriate for low and medium tech firms. We see it as a route into innovation, being quicker, cheaper and lower risk than R&D.'
Enterprise Ireland, the Irish IRC's host organisation, is attempting to address the technology transfer deficit by persuading companies that technology transfer is a viable business proposition. They organise and participate in a range of events, and run a twice yearly seminar in different parts of Ireland, based primarily at SMEs (small and medium sized enterprises), which covers topics such as managing innovation, and looks at European and national innovation support programmes.
'Later this year we want to try two new approaches to taking the innovation message to a wider audience,' Mr Cuddy explained, 'so we are looking at going into schools, to students in the 'transition year' [aged around 15 years] where work experience is already part of the curriculum, and also at taking stands at major public shows.'
Concrete targets are important to the success of Enterprise Ireland's innovation and business support services. 'There are around 5,000 SMEs in manufacturing and internationally traded services across the country,' said Mr Cuddy, 'and we reckon to have e-mailed all of these in the past year or so to publicise our services. In one way or another, from simply visiting our website to coming to a brokerage event, we would hope to help around one-fifth of them.'
As the Irish IRC is hosted by Enterprise Ireland, the national industrial development agency, the European dimension of the IRC is not always at the forefront of companies' perception. 'In some ways we are regarded as part of the overall Enterprise Ireland service,' explained Mr Cuddy, 'but this also means that we can direct IRC clients to the full range of business support services offered by Enterprise Ireland.'
On the other hand, there can be no doubt about the value that a pan-European network brings to technology transfer, affirmed Mr Cuddy. 'There is an energy in the network and a very strong rapport: a hit for us is a hit for our partner too. It demonstrates that things are happening on the ground, when you consider that at any one time there are around 5,000 technology profiles in the network. For a small country, the IRCs give a window onto European technology.' To read the interview in full, please visit: http://www.cordis.lu/ireland/irc02.htm