Fibre-optic Fault Finder Wins NDRC Pre-Commercialisation Programme in Partnership With SFI and Enterprise Ireland

14 teams competed in the latest NDRC Pre-Commercialisation Programme, where the Photonics Systems Group came out on top after five-month process to help turn research ideas into viable business opportunities. The Tyndall-based team are developing a system for finding faults in fibre-optic cables.

Photonics Systems Group, a research project based at Tyndall National Institute in Cork, today emerged victorious in a highly-contested pitch-off, ultimately being awarded winners of the latest NDRC Pre-Commercialisation Programme.

An example of how deep technology can prosper through the programme, Photonics Systems Group, headed by Cleitus Antony, is developing a system to help find faults in fibre-optic cables.

NDRC, which builds and invests in early stage digital and technology startups, saw 14 teams from all over the country take part in its 2018 Pre-Commercialisation Programme, supported by Enterprise Ireland and Science Foundation Ireland.

NDRC's Pre-Commercialisation Programme prepares researchers to focus beyond academia and helps them to transition their intellectual activities into the marketplace.

The teams of researchers which took part in the programme consisted of participants from two SFI Research Centres - Irish Photonic Integration Centre (IPIC) and CONNECT Centre, Dublin Institute of Technology, Waterford Institute of Technology, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, University of Limerick, Maynooth University, Trinity College Dublin and Dublin City University.

Now in its third year, the programme plays a key role in NDRC’s mandate to ensure digital entrepreneurship is a growing and vibrant part of the economy. For participants, it plays a crucial role in progressing them on to next stage funding on the path to commercialising their research.

The programme, which ran for five months, saw the teams develop key business skills, conduct customer discovery and validation, build out their value propositions and business models and expand their networks.

Ben Hurley, CEO, NDRC said:

“NDRC is very pleased with what has been achieved throughout the course of this Pre-Commercialisation Programme. We have seen from the teams that there is a clear understanding of the challenge of getting from research stage to that of a viable business opportunity.

“The fact that we saw research centres, universities and institutes from all over the country – with Dublin, Limerick, Cork, Waterford and Kildare involved – means this endeavour has truly had a national reach. If what was presented to us today is anything to go by, then, with the right kind of approach, the potential to commercialise research remains strong.

“Our startup ecosystem needs entrepreneurs with strong research-based business ideas to continue to pursue the startup path. This cohort, and the business acumen on show, shows that the potential is there.”

Carol Gibbons, Director of ICT Programmes & Sector Manager for Electronic Clients at Enterprise Ireland said:

 “Enterprise Ireland is very pleased to support this pre-commercialisation initiative; we anticipate that the skills and insights gained by each participant team during the programme will help them to advance and accelerate their commercialisation ambitions. 

“The programme is well aligned with the range of commercialisation supports available from Enterprise Ireland and several of our commercialisation specialists are working closely with the participant teams and institutes. 

“We are optimistic that the teams that successfully emerge from this programme will be well-placed to submit high-quality Enterprise Ireland commercialisation fund applications as a result.”

Stephen O’Driscoll, Programme Manager, SFI said:

“Entrepreneurial skills strongly compliment research skills and can support researchers in realising economic and societal impact opportunities for their research.

“Initiatives like the NDRC Pre-Commercialisation Programme provide researchers with the support they need to develop these skills and to explore these impact opportunities for themselves.” 

Patrick Morrissey, IPIC Centre Manager, Tyndall National Institute, said:

“The Pre-Commercialisation Programme guides academia based research teams through the initial steps of exploring the commercialisation of their disruptive technologies through a start-up company.

“It has proven to be an invaluable tool for researchers, addressing the significant challenges on the journey from the lab to market, and I fully expect to see a number of high performance start-ups emerge from the programme as the teams progress with Enterprise Ireland and NDRC’s support and turn our excellence in research into economic impact.”

Tim Forde, Executive Director, CONNECT Centre:

"The NDRC Pre-commercialisation Programme is a vital stepping stone for helping our researchers to exploit and commercialise their work. The programme provides valuable training, helping the researchers to develop the skill set needed to successfully launch a new product or service to the market.

“Ultimately, the programme is of significant assistance to us in CONNECT as we seek to help our researchers to create new businesses and new jobs in Ireland.”