work side by side on cutting-edge problems of
what’s known as the “sensor web,” analyzing in-
formation collected from devices that measure
pictures, sound, or chemical properties.
Clarity has been more than a rich source of
knowledge. Two years ago it also became a sort
of R&D division for a Dublin City spinoff called
Fairview Analytics. The company is developing
an automated system for tracking cargo containers as they’re trucked into and out of ports, adding information from images captured by remote
cameras into a database. A prototype is being
tested at a port in the south of Ireland.
Fairview’s founder, Pat Flynn, happened upon
Clarity while attending an earlier Big Ideas event
in search of expertise. He engaged its researchers to develop the prototype with the aid of an
“Innovation Partnership” grant from Enterprise
Ireland, which pays for research collaborations
between companies and universities.
Turning to a university for help is “not in-
stinctive” for many people in business, says
Mr. Flynn, but that’s changing as they real-
ize that the expertise is available. “Especially
in Ireland today,” he says “we can’t afford to
pay thousands of academics to do nonproduc-
Ms. Hill’s Equinome, at University College
Dublin, is another example of a company aid-
ed by Ireland’s years of research investments
and other government programs.
Indeed, although horse racing was in her
blood—her grandmother Charmian Hill was
a legendary breeder and jockey—Ms. Hill
credits many of the genomics breakthroughs
that are the basis of her horse-blood testing to
the support she received from Science Foun-
dation Ireland. An introduction made via No-
vaUCD, the university incubator, also helped
connect her with the business partner who is
now managing director of her company.
and another for evaluating the volatility of
stocks. (Both innovations are based on digital-
signal processing.) The institute has licensed
them as well.
“Three years ago, there was nothing” being
commercialized, says Mr. Flanagan.
Tough Times Ahead
Those investments, however, will take Ireland
only so far. And along with concerns about things
like the lack of venture capital, tech-transfer officials now worry that Ireland’s shaky economic
position puts them at a disadvantage in negotiating licensing terms and research contracts.
Entrepreneurs in Ireland have become more willing to seek
universities’ help, says one businessman. “We can’t afford
to pay thousands of academics to do nonproductive work.”
At the technology institute, Enterprise Ireland helped finance some of the audio-research group’s work, which has been licensed
to a company called Trezur. Same for the work
of a materials lab that has produced technology for sound-dampening paint, which was licensed to an Irish company.
The Stokes Professorship programs of Sci-
ence Foundation Ireland, which has helped
Irish institutions recruit dozens of big-name
academics over the past decade, has also done
well for the Dublin institute. One of its Stokes
professors created a technology for screening
pictures of skin moles for signs of melanoma
Some companies, particularly multinational
corporations with operations employing tens
of thousands of Irish workers, make demands
for intellectual-property rights that they’d nev-
er try in the United States. “They say, Give us
all the IP and in return we’ll stay here,” says
Trinity’s Mr. Callaghan, voicing a commonly
TO WORK FOR®
Is your college a
great place to work?
Find out what your employees think of your institution by participating in
The Chronicle’s 2011 Great Colleges to Work For survey.
The survey, now in its fourth year, has generated valuable research and insight
February 18, 2011
that have helped institutions with their goals of creating great workplaces.
Participation in the survey can boost recruitment and retention of the best faculty,
Institution survey period:
administrators, and staff as well as enhance your strategic planning initiatives by
benchmarking your institution against your peers.
March 7-April 15, 2011
There is no cost to participate and those institutions that are deemed to be
“Great Colleges to Work For” will receive national exposure in The Chronicle’s
The Academic Workplace:
Academic Workplace special report, to be published on July 29, 2011.
July 29, 2011
Register today at ChronicleGreatColleges.com