NATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF IRELAND GALWAY – ACTIVITIES & CAPACITIES
The vision for NUI Galway is to be an excellent, globally collaborative, creative, interdisciplinary and entrepreneurial research and training institution, that is relevant to economic and societal needs. This ambitious vision articulates the University’s commitment to entrepreneurship, and our role as entrepreneurial agents from a regional, national and international perspective. NUI Galway’s location on the Atlantic coast enables the University to harness the innovation capacity of the region: the University is a catalyst for innovation and entrepreneurship in the West of Ireland.
NUI Galway recognises the value of the individual entrepreneur, and promotes and supports entrepreneurial activity from an educational, research and creativity perspective. The University is committed to the ongoing development of an open, dynamic and creative culture which promotes and supports innovation and entrepreneurship on campus.
The entrepreneurial ecosystem at NUI Galway is vibrant, dynamic and thriving. The five Colleges (College of Arts, Social Sciences and Celtic Studies, College of Business, Public Policy and Law, College of Engineering and Informatics, College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, College of Science), on-campus support services (Ignite Technology Transfer Office, Research Office, NUI Galway Students’ Union), as well as various societies and individual champions have a long heritage of delivering entrepreneurial and innovative activities across campus. NUI Galway has also developed strategic partnerships to further enhance its entrepreneurial footprint:
- NUI Galway has designed and successfully delivers the BioInnovate medical device innovation programme. This programme is modelled on the Stanford Biodesign programme, and is the first Global Affiliate of the Stanford programme. A sister programme for tech entrepreneurship, TechInnovate, was established in 2016.
- NUI Galway is at the frontier of undergraduate entrepreneurial programme development. The Innovation, Creativity & Enterprise (ICE) module is designed to encourage students to have confidence in their ability to be creative and innovative in whatever future business and/or community settings that they are working in.
- In 2011, NUI Galway joined the global Students in Free Enterprise initiative (rebranded as Enactus), has competed at a national level each year, and participated at the Enactus World Cup in 2014.
- NUI Galway is a founding partner in an Irish national collaborative initiative called CEEN (the Campus Entrepreneurship Enterprise Network), which focuses on developing entrepreneurship education across third level education in Ireland.
- In 2014, the Entrepreneurship Society was formed as a student society, and is one of the most popular societies with 1,400 members.
- EXPLORE, a model of open innovation between students and staff, has delivered over 80 new innovative projects on campus with over 500 direct campus participants from all Colleges in just a couple of years.
- The inaugural Ryan Award for Innovation was launched on campus in 2014. This award recognises the translation of an idea in the areas of Marine, Energy and the Environmental Sciences into an innovative output.
- In 2016, NUI Galway set up its own Blackstone LaunchPad, one of three national centres for student/staff entrepreneurship, co-funded by the Blackstone Foundation.
Blackstone LaunchPad is a global student entrepreneurship support system, which has expanded outside of the United States for the first time through a €2 million investment from the Blackstone Foundation and matching funding from Irish universities. The aim of Blackstone LaunchPad at NUI Galway is to introduce entrepreneurship as a viable career option, regardless of discipline, with an executive director and network of venture coaches available to assist students. Announced by An Taoiseach and Blackstone’s Stephen Schwarzman in July 2015, NUI Galway was one of three Irish universities chosen for this international expansion (along with TCD and UCC). The Executive Director is Mary Carty, who previously co-founded and ran the Stemettes Outbox Incubator in London.
CEEN is a national Irish network for promoting and developing entrepreneurship and enterprise education at third-level education, in which NUI Galway was a founding partner. At the University, this programme is driven by the Discipline of Management and the Technology Transfer Office. CEEN aims to create a sustainable national platform for raising the profile, extending engagement and further developing entrepreneurship education across the Irish third level sector. It does this by: providing a vehicle for a national dialogue between academia, industry and voluntary and public sectors on the development of entrepreneurship education; promoting excellence in the field by stimulating research, developing new pedagogies, evaluating and disseminating best practice and creating an evidence base around ‘what works’; establishing a national communications network to facilitate networking and collaboration within and between HEIs for academic and non-academic staff and the student body; demonstrating the economic business case for continuous investment, and supporting the development of new programmes and initiatives to promote entrepreneurship education across the wider HEI sector.
Who: Michael Campion (University Coordinator)
The Enactus Society was formally set up in 2014 to foster participation by NUI Galway students in the global Enactus (formerly “Students in Free Enterprise”) initiative, while the University has been participating in Enactus since it came to Ireland in 2011. It consists of a group of students from a wide variety of disciplines of study, possessing an entrepreneurial spirit and passion for social innovation who, alongside the assistance and guidance of the University’s Business and Faculty Advisory Board, develop sustainable projects within the community with the primary aim of benefitting society. Enactus’ overall goal is to be “a community of student, academic and business leaders committed to using the power of entrepreneurial action to transform lives and shape a better more sustainable world”. NUI Galway was one of the first Irish universities to compete internationally in Enactus events, participating at the Enactus World Cup in Beijing, China in 2014.
The Entrepreneurship Society (EntreSoc) at NUI Galway was established in January 2014. EntreSoc is already one of NUI Galway’s busiest and most popular societies, with over 1,400 members. Traditionally, entrepreneurs at NUI Galway were not catered for by any one student society (EngSoc, BizSoc, etc.), and the goal of this society was to be cross-disciplinary. The primary aim of EntreSoc is to provide an environment that enables student entrepreneurs to develop and expand their ideas into meaningful endeavours. The society acts as a platform to guide the entrepreneur and enhance his or her project. EntreSoc offers information on existing supports within and outside the University, which can aid the student in developing their idea. The society also acts as a discussion group, which encourages entrepreneurship and collective debate, creating an atmosphere of productivity. EntreSoc invites guest speakers to the University to address students and impart their knowledge and entrepreneurial experience to them. Events organised so far include Startups2Students (where 15 startup founders presented to students), Female Entrepreneurs, Triple E (Energy, Engineering, Entrepreneurship), Startup School (with a €1000 prize fund), and Stock School. The society also runs competitions to further inspire innovation and entrepreneurship amongst the student population.
Ignite Technology Transfer Office
Ignite, the NUI Galway Technology Transfer Office (TTO), promotes and assists with the creation of new sustainable spinout companies as well as assisting regional companies to access supports, capabilities and networks. The TTO effectively transfers technologies into industry through licensing to existing or new spinout companies. Ignite supports the development of long-term partnerships with industry, with a focus on knowledge sharing between academics and industry. The following metrics give an insight into the entrepreneurial activity delivered by the TTO: 29 spinout companies, 410 invention disclosures, 47 patents, and 101 licences or options granted. Training programmes and capacity building are another key service delivered by the TTO. The suite of training provided includes the interdisciplinary “Ignite Ecosystem” commercialisation programme, clinics on international sales, the “Ennis Innovate” regional enterprise programme, as well as various business and financial strategy programmes.
EXPLORE is a model for innovation delivery that is embedded in a culture of partnership. EXPLORE allows NUI Galway staff and students to work in partnership together and bring collaborative, innovative ideas to fruition on campus. The initiative provides funding for a selected set of innovative projects each year, and is run as a partnership between NUI Galway and the NUI Galway Students’ Union. Successful applicants receive project funding and ongoing support (with marketing, process design, partnership, further funding and sustainability) to implement their pilot project within a short time frame. EXPLORE multidisciplinary participants have achieved an 85% project completion rate. Beginning in 2012, over 80 EXPLORE projects have been funded so far (including the successful ReelLife Science and Cell Explorers initiatives), with over 500 direct campus participants (125 staff, 400 students) from all Colleges. Projects include ebooks, study aids, educational videos, university apps, entrepreneurial meetups (the Exponential tech founder talks), and more. At the core of EXPLORE’s operation is bringing ideas from intent to impact: the impact of EXPLORE projects and their reach stretches into the thousands both on and off campus. Post-EXPLORE, a number of projects have also gone on to secure substantial funding from external agencies.
Tony Ryan Trust Award for Innovation
The Ryan Award for Innovation at NUI Galway recognises and facilitates the development and translation of an idea in the areas of Marine, Energy and Environment into an innovative output with societal or commercial impact. This annual competition is targeted at NUI Galway staff and students, and is valued at up to €25k. The idea can be a research project that the applicant (individual or team) wishes to develop further with the intention of commercialisation or startup creation. Alternatively, the idea may be to deliver a programme to drive further innovation in the Marine, Energy and Environment space, such as increased business engagement, demonstrated societal impact, or embedding innovation into educational programmes.
Ignite Business Innovation Centre
The Ignite Business Innovation Centre (BIC) at NUI Galway, operated by the Ignite Technology Transfer Office (TTO), is home to various spinouts and campus companies, as well as a variety of high potential tech and medtech companies. The BIC currently hosts 28 companies with 139 employees in total. BIC client companies and alums include Westway Health (winner of the InterTradeIreland Seedcorn Investor Readiness Competition in 2013), Pocket Anatomy (winner of the Best Tech Startup at The Next Web Conference in 2014), Apica Cardiovascular (acquired by Thoratec for $75 million in 2014), and DiaNia Technologies (successful in receiving both Competitive Start Fund investment from Enterprise Ireland and Horizon 2020 SME Instrument funding from the EU). BIC client companies are generous in their commitment and continuous support provided to the campus entrepreneurial ecosystem through talks, training and the availability to engage. These companies also benefit from having access to research expertise across campus.
Who: Fiona Neary (Business Development Manager)
NUI Galway MakerSpace
Following in the tradition of local makerspaces such as 091 Labs, a new NUI Galway MakerSpace was established in 2016 in the James Hardiman Library. This room is a resource for all students and staff in the University who may want to make and prototype their ideas, and also features 3D printing resources.
Who: Cillian Joy (Digital Library Developer)
Postgraduate Certificate/Diploma/Masters in Applied Entrepreneurship (Atlantic Centre for Entrepreneurship)
The Atlantic Centre for Entrepreneurship (ACE) brings international resources – academic and corporate – to support growth-stage companies as well as enabling existing companies with intrapreneurship efforts. ACE’s mission is to create economic value, collaboration, and knowledge economy growth throughout Ireland’s Atlantic region.
Masters of Applied Science (Enterprise Systems)
This award winning programme was designed in partnership with academics and employers to meet the specific requirements of industry. It equips graduates with essential knowledge and skills in the fields of enterprise and innovation management. The programme aims to enhance graduates’ technical and management contribution in various enterprises including manufacturing, financial services, health services, government, and many more. It invites participants from many disciplines: it is suitable for Engineering, Science, Commerce, and Arts graduates who wish to pursue a career in a high-tech environment. This programme is of significant interest to students who may wish to change direction from their course of undergraduate study and pursue a new career path that offers them sound employment prospects in a growth area. Key features of the programme include: encouraging a strong ethos of innovation in students; engaging teaching methods (e.g. Lego serious play; company visits; guest lectures); a customised learning programme to suit the needs of individual students; a multidisciplinary approach (e.g. Engineering, Technology, Business); and extensive career opportunities from enterprise to entrepreneurship. Full time and part time options are available (GYE13 for 12 months and GYE14 for 24 months respectively).
Who: Dr Kathryn Cormican (Programme Director)
Postgraduate Diploma/Masters in BioInnovation (BioInnovate) and Medical Device Intrapreneurship Training
BioInnovate Ireland’s mission is to enable medical device innovators and innovations, and it accomplishes this through a successful fellowship programme (modeled on Stanford’s Biodesign) and intrapreneurship training. A further goal is to increase interworking relationships and collaboration between academia, clinicians, venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, and industry leaders in Ireland’s rich medical technology cluster. The relationships and networking between these stakeholders provide the different perspectives on what constitutes an attractive medical device innovation opportunity, and the pitfalls that may be encountered on the path to bringing the innovation to the targeted patients and clinical providers. International perspectives are also facilitated through invited seminars and visits from representatives of leading international institutions, companies, and VC firms. The BioInnovate Ireland programme is led by NUI Galway in collaboration with other Irish universities. As a consortium, access to multiple medical, engineering, business schools, research centres and hospitals throughout the country has been enabled. Multidisciplinary entrepreneurial teams are embedded in a clinical setting, and implement solutions towards a particular clinical need. Past Fellowship alums include Galway company Embo Medical, who were acquired by CR Bard for $42.5 million.
Postgraduate Diploma in TechInnovation (TechInnovate) and Disciplined Intrapreneurship Training
With the tagline “enabling technology innovators and innovations”, TechInnovate is a technology entrepreneurship programme at NUI Galway. Based on the successful BioInnovate Ireland initiative, which is in turn based on a Stanford model, TechInnovate kicked off in 2016 with a 10-month stipend-supported Fellowship (and corresponding postgraduate qualification) that aims to create interdisciplinary teams of technology entrepreneurs (techpreneurs), with each team made up of an engineer, a businessperson and a designer. The focus of these Fellowship teams is towards bringing technological innovations in various domains (agriculture, defence, etc.) to market. The teams undergo an initial bootcamp in the Disciplined Entrepreneurship process from MIT, carry out a needs analysis for 6-8 weeks with end users in a particular domain, filter down to the most pressing need, and then develop a commercialisable proposal for a technology-based solution to that need. In parallel, industry sponsors can send key staff to learn and participate in a series of ten day-long intrapreneurship training workshops that mirrors the TechInnovation process undertaken by the Fellowship teams.
Innovation, Creativity & Enterprise Module
The JE Cairnes School of Business and Economics at NUI Galway has partnered with local businesses to provide students with the opportunity to learn real-life business through the ICE initiative. ICE (FA318 Innovation, Creativity & Enterprise) is available to all final year students of Commerce, Business Information Systems, Information Technology and a number of Engineering programmes as a capstone offering. Approximately 400 students are given the opportunity to work together in a multi-disciplinary fashion to innovate in all aspects of business and community enterprise. Student groups are mentored by experienced business leaders and entrepreneurs. The ICE module encourages self-confidence in students in their ability to be creative and innovative in whatever future business profession and/or community settings that they are working in. A final event is held with the top teams presenting to distinguished judges from the world of business and investment.
Who: Michael Campion (Lecturer)
Technology Innovation & Entrepreneurship Modules
Delivered in the College of Engineering and Informatics, the ME432 Technology Innovation & Entrepreneurship module covers a range of topics that critically affect the successful identification and commercialisation of innovative technologies. It is designed to help engineering students develop strong conceptual foundations for understanding and exploiting technological innovation and entrepreneurship. More specifically, it aims to equip learners with an understanding of the technology innovation lifecycle and the key issues involved in entrepreneurship and new venture creation. This module presents frameworks, methods and tools to create, commercialise and capture value from technology-based products and services. It equips students with a comprehensive toolbox to enable them to identify opportunities, develop and filter concepts, and create business models in order to manage innovation throughout the product lifecycle.
A second module, MG670 Technology Innovation & Entrepreneurship, has been specifically designed for graduates who are registered for blended learning programmes in Technology Management and Technology Commercialisation. Typically this cohort of learners are employed full time in the high-tech industry. The module was designed to help learners understand the critical influencing factors for successful technology development and execution. It aims to equip participants with the values, best practices, skills and supporting tools necessary to effectively design, develop and deploy technical projects in their organisations and to empower users to autonomously apply these concepts and tools.
Who: Dr Kathryn Cormican (Lecturer)