Knowledge Transfer Ireland Announces the 2021 Scorecard for Ireland’s Knowledge Transfer Community

Pictured are (l-r) Stephen Creaner, Executive Director, Enterprise Ireland, Minister Robert Troy TD and Imelda Lambkin, Manager Disruptive Technology, Innovation & Knowledge Transfer, Enterprise Ireland.

Knowledge Transfer Ireland Announces the 2021 Scorecard for Ireland’s Knowledge Transfer Community

Knowledge Transfer Ireland (KTI) has today announced the results of its latest annual scorecard for Ireland’s knowledge transfer community and assesses the status of collaboration between industry and publicly funded research in Ireland as well as the levels of commercialisation of State research. 

According to findings in the 2021 Annual Knowledge Transfer Survey (AKTS), Irish research performing organisations (universities, institutes of technology and other publicly funded research institutions which are primarily publicly funded), are spending upwards of half a billion Euro annually on research expenditure. The 2021 figure of €672 million is the highest on record, and an increase of over one-third since KTI began collating research expenditure in 2013.

KTI’s findings also show that the number of spin-out companies, formed from research performing organisations, grew in 2021.  Thirty-two (32) new spin-outs were formed in 2021, up marginally from 30 in 2020. Five (5) UCD spin-out companies, seamlessCARE, CropBiome (jointly with TCD), recsyslabs EpiCapture and Carbon Harvesters, supported through NovaUCD, are among these 32 spin-outs.

The 2021 AKTS also highlights that there is a total of 143 active spin-outs, that are three or more years in existence, and these companies employ 1,218 people, a further increase on last year’s figures. Five companies that started life as spin-outs were acquired in 2021, yielding a combined €4 million in revenue to the research performing organisations and underlining the attractiveness of Irish spin-outs to external investment.

Robert Troy TD, Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment said, “Irish enterprises have demonstrated their resilience and fortitude again and again and are key to maintaining our stable economy. As many businesses will know competitiveness and productivity are central to continued resilience and part of that is their ability to innovate. Today’s findings from KTI therefore are very welcome and the growth in the number of companies engaging with Irish research to access expertise, and the increase in companies being created from research demonstrates the breadth of collaborative and entrepreneurial opportunities that exist.”

He added, “Innovation through research is shown to deliver real value to Irish companies and to better position them to compete effectively in global markets.  The calibre of Irish research and the opportunities it presents to business in Ireland continues to be recognised globally.”

He concluded, “The important role of Technology Transfer Offices and Innovation Offices at research organisations across the country is key to making many of these successes a reality.  This Government is committed to continuing its support for the research system and to further build and develop what is already a vibrant and fruitful space which acts as a job multiplier right around the State.” 

Imelda Lambkin, Manager Disruptive Technology, Innovation & Knowledge Transfer at Enterprise Ireland, said, “Our 2021 AKTS shows that despite the challenges of the last number of years, the connection between Irish publicly funded research and enterprise is stronger than ever. We are seeing a continued geographical spread of activity from businesses engaging with the third level and other State-funded research organisations, and it’s heartening to see the level of investment these institutions are putting into cutting edge research which are shaping the ideas of tomorrow."

She added, "New products and services are being brought to market each year to address tangible problems across multiple sectors. The Irish knowledge transfer community is successfully future-proofing many industries to remain more competitive at a time of external economic pressure.”

The continued increase in research expenditure as outlined in the 2021 AKTS highlights the significant opportunities available for Irish and multinational businesses of all sizes to engage with Irish publicly funded research. Engaging with the third level on R&D is known to make businesses more competitive than those who don’t.

Companies continue to have a strong appetite for engaging in research, development and innovation (RD&I) with 80% of R&D agreements last year being with Irish companies.  66% of companies that engaged with Irish publicly funded research last year were SMEs.

The 2021 Annual Knowledge Transfer Survey is available in full here.


19 July 2021

For further information contact Micéal Whelan, Communications and Media Relations Manager, NovaUCD, e:

Editors Notes

Knowledge Transfer Ireland (KTI) makes it simpler for business and research performing organisations to work together. KTI aims to maximise the extent to which State-funded technology, ideas and expertise gets into the hands of business to drive innovation. KTI is located in Enterprise Ireland (EI) and funded by EI with co-financing from the Irish Universities Association.