Thursday, May 24, 2007

Enterprise Ireland has called on SMEs to fully exploit the benefits of technology licensing

From Business Plus Online :

EI: SMEs Need To Exploit Technology Licensing

18/12/06: The agency said that while Irish companies increasingly recognise the value of technology licensing, spend on licensing as a proportion of R&D still not high enough

Enterprise Ireland's TechSearch programme assisted 35 Irish small and medium sized enterprises sign technology transfer deals in 2006, worth almost €2m directly and leading to over €5m of increased sales and exports annually.

Participation in the TechSearch programme, which provides direct assistance to Irish companies who wish to harness technological advances made in other markets to support indigenous growth, increased 60% in 2006 with almost 200 Irish SMEs entering the programme and 100 companies entering into negotiations with potential partners in Europe and further afield.

However, less than 5% of the estimated €1.4 billion invested in R&D by Irish companies in 2006 was spent on in-licensing, reflecting the need to further increase SME awareness of the potential for business growth that exists through technology licensing.

“Enterprise Ireland has some €60m to spend in its RTI (R&D) and Productivity funds in 2007, up to 50% 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.

“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.

“Several Irish companies, including Soft Edge, {Note: see Microsoft article} Alltracel and NTera, have already benefited from the rise in the rate of international licensing of IP by building partnerships with some of the world's leading global companies.

“This is a call to action to Ireland's SME business community...

A partnership agreement signed in October with Enterprise Ireland and the National Research Council of Canada to coincide with the opening of the new Enterprise Ireland office in Toronto gives Irish companies access to SMEs across Canada through a network of technology advisers.

Enterprise Ireland aims to involve 20 Irish companies in technology licensing partnership discussions with Canadian counterparts in 2007.

A number of Irish companies are already seeking technology and product partnerships in this market including Bord na Mona, Dromone Engineering, Jacob Fruitfield and bathroom products manufacturer Qualceram Shires.

As well as sourcing technologies, it is anticipated that Irish companies will be able to offer a gateway to Europe for Canadian companies, while Canadian companies can offer a gateway to North America for Irish companies.

Other Irish companies that have already benefited from the TechSearch programme include:
  • Inishowen Engineering, Donegal, which licensed an underwater lamp which will take them into international export markets
  • Butler Manufacturing Services, Longford, which acquired the rights to manufacture storm cell tunnels from Germany and the US
  • eXpd8, which announced a licensing partnership with a South African company to establish its software products in that market
  • Surface Power, Castlebar, which acquired the distribution rights to pellet burning stoves from Sweden
  • Techrec Ireland in a joint venture with an NI company COD International to give them refrigerator disposal technology.

It also includes an IP audit that will help businesses assess their readiness to participate in licensing agreements, a DIY search facility that allows Irish businesses to search for innovative technologies worldwide, as well as downloadable legal and tax guides and a patent search facility.

Sectors that have traditionally embraced technology acquisition include the biomedical, food processing, electronics and automotive engineering industries, however, Enterprise Ireland is keen to point out that companies of all sizes and of all sectors can gain from this practice.


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