It’s an economic truth, universally acknowledged, that innovation is at the core of most successful businesses.

This is of course, easier said than done, which is why centres of incubations are so necessary in fostering it. Ireland can proudly boast six bio­-incubation facilities, 16 Institute of Technology and 30 campus innovation hubs, all contributing to making this country one of the globe’s most exciting places for both research and development, and in which to do business.

At the heart of all this, you’ll find NovaUCD. Located on the campus of University College Dublin, this state­-of-­the-art facility, which opened its doors in the lovingly restored 18th century Merville House in 2003, wants exciting new ventures, visionary entrepreneurs and ­ most importantly ­ big ideas. What it offers is an extensive business support programme for the client companies based there, with advice, seminars and workshops, plus access to NovaUCD’s extensive network investors, researchers and business leaders.

Engineering in Zero Gravity at University College Dublin

This video focuses on research carried out by the UCD School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering in zero gravity.

The centre came about via a unique public-­private partnership, with six private sector sponsors contributing 75% of the €10 million raised to develop the first two phases of the complex. Additional funding for facilities and equipment to accommodate biotechnology start­-up companies to the tune of €1.3 million came via Enterprise Ireland and UCD.

The breadth of the new ventures in motion here is impressively broad: think renewable and wireless energy, medical devices, ITC and biotech, for starters. Companies such as Coleface, a trading network built by traders for traders; Endura Technologies, which optimises power delivery and energy distribution; Zeeko, which helps parents and teachers to help children protect themselves online, and 4AM, which builds property portals. It can also count over 80 companies among its alumni.

Its success is clearly measurable. In 2014, a studied revealed that the start-up incubator had supported 1,000 Irish jobs and contributed nearly €37m to the economy. To give a specific example, 15 new jobs were created last year when the NovaUCD spinout, Oxymem, was awarded the 2015 NovaUCD Innovation Award. The company, which is based in Athlone, works in water cleaning and efficiency technologies. Another Nova spinout, Logentries, which provider of technology which searches machine data, was acquired for €59.47m by a major US security data firm in October 2015.

UCD Startup Stars Programme

This programme provides support to UCD students who want to work together to build start-up companies.

It’s the support programme that NovaUCD makes it so attractive to start­ups. There’s the possibility of collaborating with UCD college researchers for one, as well as the advice available on topics from business plan development, grant and funding applications, introduction to potential investors and advisors and the opportunity to participate in UCD internship programmes. If they need specific advice, there’s a host of resident experts there to guide them, with legal advice available from Arthur Cox Solicitors, finance and tax information from Deloitte and banking and finance planning from AIB Bank.

UCD outlines its four innovation themes thusly: inspiring creative and innovative graduates; putting knowledge to work through applied research; partnering with industry and the public sector, and growing and supporting new business. NovaUCD is doing all of this and more. Expect great things.

Claire is a Dublin-based journalist who contributes to a wide range of publications including The Irish Independent and Image magazine. She occasionally reviews restaurants, and loves a good crime novel.

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