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, the state body working 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.

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

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.

Five companies previously spun off from research organizations were acquired or merged with another company.

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

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, revenue generated from commercialization activities with industry for research organizations amounted to approximately €143 million.

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.

Imelda Lambkin, Head of Disruptive Technology, Innovation and Knowledge Transfer at Enterprise Ireland, said today’s findings show that despite the challenges of recent years, the link between research funded by Irish state and business is stronger than ever.

“We are seeing a continued geographic spread of activity from companies engaging with third tier and other publicly funded research organizations, and it is encouraging to see the level of investment these institutions are making. in cutting-edge research that shapes the ideas of tomorrow,” she says.

“New products and services are brought to market every year to solve real-world problems in multiple industries.

“Irish’s knowledge transfer community is successfully preparing many industries to remain more competitive in times of external economic pressure,” she added.

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