Record spending on research by universities and colleges

Irish research organisations, such as universities and colleges, spent a record €672 million on research projects last year.

That’s according to new data from Knowledge Transfer Ireland (KTI), the state body that works to make it easier for businesses to access publicly funded research.

The figures show a high level of collaboration between research organizations and industry.

In 2021, 1,339 new research and development (R&D) agreements were signed with companies to launch new research projects.

At the end of the year, 1,780 research projects were underway across all research organizations.

Despite the pandemic and the challenges companies are facing, Imelda Lambkin of Enterprise Ireland, which overseas the KTI, said she hadn’t seen a drop in the number of research projects underway in the past year. .

“The numbers are roughly on par with previous years, which we were really pleased to see given the challenges over the last couple of years or so – we are really surprised to see these numbers,” she said. during Morning Ireland.

Figures show that 80% of R&D deals were with Irish companies, while 66% were with Irish SMEs.

“Small businesses are interacting really well, which is really interesting as we come out of a pandemic,” Ms Lambkin said.

Ms Lambkin said there are many benefits for companies engaging with research organisations.

“They have access to very high-level expertise with researchers from our higher education institutions, for example, they have access to very high-quality equipment and facilities, and thanks to the technology transfer innovation offices , they also get business development support – so it’s a really useful opportunity for them,” she said.

Data shows that between 2017 and 2021, 139 spin-off companies were created from research organizations, an average of 28 each year.

Last year, 32 new spin-outs were created, compared to 30 the previous year.

As of December 2021, figures show there were 143 active spin-off companies – employing at least 1,218 people.

Ms Lambkin said five companies previously formed from research bodies had been acquired or merged with other companies.

“These acquisitions brought in four million euros in revenue to the research provider organisations,” she explains.

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Total research spending in 2021 of €672 million was the highest recorded since 2014.

The figures show that spending has increased by almost 6% compared to 2020.

According to the report, the income of research organizations from commercialization activities with industry amounted to around 143 million euros.

Over the past five years, there have been a total of 2,386 new invention disclosures with an increase in 2021 of 8%.

As in previous years, the majority are single invention disclosures where only one research organization is involved.

While the trend in the number of patents filed has previously increased year on year, the latest figures show that the number has dropped significantly in the last year, from 147 in 2020 to 106 – which is the lowest of the last five years.

“Innovation through research has been shown to bring real value to Irish businesses and better position them to compete in global markets,” said Robert Troy, Minister of State for the Department of Business, Trade and employment.

“The caliber of Irish research and the opportunities it presents for businesses in Ireland continue to be recognized around the world.

“This government is committed to continuing its support for the research system and to building and further developing what is already a vibrant and successful space that acts as a job multiplier across the state,” he said. added.