On 8th June last, the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton TD, together with the Minister for Research and Innovation Sean Sherlock TD, announced new structures to make it easier to commercialise and ultimately create jobs from ideas developed through publicly-funded research, which currently receives total funding of over €800million per year.

The Protocol has been developed by the DJEI 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.

Key Features of the new approach include:

  1. A central Technology Transfer Office (cTTO), which will 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 cTTO will be hosted by Enterprise Ireland, the post of CEO for the cTTO will be advertised publicly shortly and the person appointed will be based in EI offices in East Point. Technology Transfer Offices currently exist in 10 Higher Education Institutions – including NovaUCD. The cTTO will work closely with existing Technology Transfer Offices, sharing good practice and ensuring consistency between different elements of the technology transfer system and a consistent adoption and interpretation of national IP Policy by all stakeholders. Existing Technology Transfer Offices will retain the freedom to do a deal that works best for both parties
  2. Commercial agreements with RPOs are quick and easy to set up, through the use of standardised IP terms around IP ownership, access and publication.This helps industry parties know what arrangements to expect up front, right from the start. However, these policies and structures are not rigid: every case is different, and every industry party has different needs, so there is flexibility to adapt these terms.
  3. Commercial terms are generous. The protocol also sets outgenerous commercial terms to encourage industry to engage with the public research system.
  4. IP is managed in a professional way. The Protocol sets out a series of steps for the introduction of processes to ensure IP is professionally managed throughout the public research sector, building on the current good practice that exists in many of Ireland’s Research Performing Organisations (RPOs). These enhanced IP management practices will help ensure that State supported IP has optimum commercial value and will assist in “fast-tracking” the due diligence process for industry.
  5. IP Policy will be flexible and responsive to the needs of stakeholders. The national IP policy and guidelines set out in the Protocol will be progressively improved to take into account the experience gained from commercialisation activities.

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