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Irish IT licensing investment falling short

Five per cent just ain't enough

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Irish companies are increasingly recognising the value of technology licensing but are not investing enough in the process, according to Enterprise Ireland.

Irish companies invested roughly €1.4bn in research and development in 2006, but only five per cent of this was spent on licensing.

"Enterprise Ireland has some €60m to spend in its RTI (Research Technology and Innovation) and productivity funds in 2007, up to 50 per cent of which is available for licensing and technology acquisition, and we want to ensure that this money is used to best effect," said Jim Cuddy, Enterprise Ireland's manager of the Innovation and Technology Transfer department. "Why develop a technology or product yourself when it might be available elsewhere and could be licensed-in?"

Enterprise Ireland's TechSearch programme assisted 35 Irish SMEs in signing technology transfer deals worth a total of €2m this year. These deals led to an increase of €5m in sales and exports for the companies involved. Participation in the programme increased 60 per cent in 2006, with around 200 companies entering the programme. Firms that have participated in the TechSearch programme include Donegal-based business Inishowen Engineering, which licensed an underwater lamp.

"Many entrepreneurs who head up SMEs think their business doesn't fit the profile of a company who should take advantage of licensing, but our TechSearch programme actively supports Irish businesses through each step of the process, including finding the technology or product, evaluating potential projects, and contract negotiation," Cuddy said.

Enterprise Ireland signed a partnership agreement with the National Research Council of Canada in October with the aim of getting 20 Irish companies involved in discussion on technology licensing partnerships with Canadian businesses.

Copyright © 2006, ENN

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