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Posted 11 June 2012

New intellectual property protocol aims to capitalise on publicly-funded R&D

New structures to make it easier to commercialise and ultimately create jobs from intellectual property developed through publicly-funded research have been announced by the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton TD, and the Minister for Research and Innovation, Sean Sherlock TD.

The announcement, which took place at NovaUCD, the Innovation and Technology Transfer Centre at University College Dublin, represents the delivery of a key commitment in the Programme for Government and the Action Plan for Jobs 2012.

Pictured far right: Minister for Jobs Enterprise and innovation Richard Bruton TD; Minister for Research and Innovation Sean Sherlock TD and Dr Emmeline Hill, Equinome

The new structures, which aim to encourage more businesses to commercialise R&D by ensuring that they can access the results of State-funded R&D with greater ease and certainty, include:

  • A new Central Technology Transfer Office, to act as a one-stop shop for businesses seeking to use intellectual property deriving from publicly-funded research
  • Standardised intellectual property terms, which will facilitate easy-to-set-up agreements between businesses and researchers
  • Generous commercial terms to encourage businesses to engage with researchers, and to use the results of research to develop new products and services
  • Improved management of Intellectual Property

Over the past ten years, Ireland has built up a substantial infrastructure, expertise and international reputation for scientific research and innovation.

In 2003, Ireland was ranked 36th in the world for quality of scientific research output; in 2010 we were 20th. In 2000 our total spend on publicly-funded R&D was €290million; in 2010 it was €872 million.

The new Government committed in the Programme for Government and the Action Plan for Jobs to improve commercial outcomes from this activity, and actions taken over the past year to deliver on this include:

  • The approval of legislation to extend the remit of Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) to include applied research, and
  • The implementation of Research Prioritisation to ensure that publicly-funded research is aimed at areas with the greatest potential for commercialisation and job-creation.

Making the announcement at NovaUCD on 8 June 2012, the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton TD said:

“A key part of the Government’s plan for jobs and growth is ensuring that we create more products, services and ultimately jobs from Ireland’s top quality scientific research system. The quality of our R&D is already a major part of the reason for the success of our multinational and indigenous companies – but we must do more.”

“[Today’s] announcement marks a major evolution of the relationship between industry and publicly-funded research. It will create a world-class new system that will make it easier and faster for entrepreneurs and companies to negotiate a commercial arrangement with researchers. It will provide a significant improvement to Ireland’s international offering and encourage more companies to locate here. It will encourage more multinationals and indigenous companies to use the IP generated by Irish R&D to create products and services and ultimately create more jobs.”

“I would like to commend all involved, in particular Jim Mountjoy who chaired the IP Implementation Group, on all their work to date”.

The Minister for Research and Innovation, Sean Sherlock TD said:

“Using the standardised terms in the new Protocol will support both industry parties and research performing organisations in making their commercial negotiations faster, more consistent and more transparent. A Central Technology Transfer Office (cTTO) will be established to act as a ‘one stop shop’ for industry engagement with the research system to find all research opportunities and IP that has been generated across the entire publicly funded research system.”

“The policies set out in the IP Protocol will also support the building of relationships with industry that will support a sustainable flow of commercialisation activities and build networks of long-term knowledge sharing”.

Also present at the announcement in University College Dublin was Dr Emmeline Hill, co-founder, Equinome, a UCD spin-out company which has developed out of the successful commercialisation of State-funded research.

In 2004, Dr Hill received an SFI award which supported a 5-year programme of work at UCD to investigate the genomics of performance in thoroughbred horses. 

In 2009, this research led to the world’s first known identification of a gene contributing to a specific athletic trait in thoroughbred horses. This gene, called myostatin, was found to predict sprinting ability and stamina potential, which can immediately identify a thoroughbred as a potential sprinter, middle-distance or long-distance horse.

NovaUCD facilitated the identification, protection and management of the intellectual property (IP) arising from Dr Hill’s research.

NovaUCD also supported and assisted Dr Hill with the establishment and development of Equinome, a UCD spin-out company, to commercialise the IP arising from her research.

NovaUCD also negotiated the transfer of this IP through licence agreements to the company. Using the results of the Equinome Elite Performance Test, Thoroughbred horse owners and breeders can now increase their chances of successfully identifying those foals and yearlings most likely to perform at the elite level.

Equinome, which has now secured clients around the world including USA, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, UK, France, Hong Kong and Singapore, is currently headquartered at NovaUCD.

“Equinome is an excellent example of the successful commercialisation of the results of public research, and it now stands poised to develop into a world-class international company,” said the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton TD.

“Today’s announcement is about ensuring that the process which Equinome completed becomes quicker and easier, about ensuring that more businesses and more researchers engage in this process, and about ensuring that ultimately we create more jobs out of our world-class research”.


“Putting public research to work for Ireland: Policies and procedures to help industry make good use of Ireland’s public research institutions”

The IP Protocol has been developed by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation working with other Government Departments and informed by a dedicated group of experts from industry, the VC community, Technology Transfer Offices, Research Performing Organisations, the IUA and the State research funders. An independent legal review of the protocol was also undertaken.

The Protocol deals primarily with collaborative research, where industry and Research Performing Organisations work together and, in particular, where industry and the State share the cost of the research. It also deals with industry access to the results of research that is 100% State funded; and contract research where industry pays the full cost of the research it commissions.

It applies equally to all forms of research and development activity, from pure and applied research through to incremental and near-market development.

The Protocol will continue to evolve to ensure that it delivers on its objectives and is aligned with the objectives of the State in respect of its research funding.

(Produced by UCD University Relations)


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Minister for Jobs Enterprise and innovation Richard Bruton TD; Minister for Research and Innovation Sean Sherlock TD and Dr Emmeline Hill, Equinome
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