£4m Boost for R&D Spinout Prospects

University-based research and development projects which have the potential to spin out into new cutting-edge companies have benefited from more than £4 million pounds over the past 12 months, thanks to the Invest Northern Ireland Proof of Concept programme.

Thirty-one projects from both the University of Ulster and Queen’s University have now benefited from Proof of Concept which aims to increase the number of new high tech business spinouts emerging from local university research.

“It is vital that the business community captures the commercial potential of local research expertise and facilitates its transfer to market,” says Tracy Meharg, managing director of Innovation and Capability Development, Invest NI.

“By supporting the pre-commercialisation of leading-edge technologies emerging from Northern Ireland’s universities, Proof of Concept can support researchers as they bring inventions and ideas into the global marketplace - ultimately increasing the number and standard of new businesses spinning out of academic institutions.”

Proof of Concept funding has already proven itself to be a vital source of support for innovative research projects. Launched as a pilot project in December 2003 with a project fund of £5 million over three years, almost 80% of the Proof of Concept funding has already been allocated because of the number of innovative research projects urgently requiring assistance.

The £4 million has been distributed to a wide range of projects from a variety of industry sectors, including the development of:-

Textiles: Chemical and biological protection clothing without the problems of heatstroke and skin blistering

Food: Nutritionally enhanced milk using natural means

ICT: Unique amplifier technology for mobile wireless communications applications

Medical: Bio-resorbable medical devices with unique degradation behaviour to ensure natural tissue healing.

Projects run for eighteen months and must have the potential to lead to the creation of a new business or the licensing of new technology to an existing company before funding can be agreed.

Applications from local universities are currently being sought for the next funding round which will close on 29th April 2005. For further information visit www.investni.com/proofofconcept