A pioneering new SME programme was launched by DIT Hothouse in Grangegorman yesterday. Open Labs by DIT Hothouse aims to remove the barriers facing SMEs and startups in participating in early-stage research and innovation by providing access to over 600 DIT researchers and facilities in five critical high-tech sectors - Product Prototyping, Virtual Reality, Internet of Things, Data Analysis for Business and Innovative Surface Coatings.
The Open Labs process is designed to be business-friendly, with a team of DIT researchers working to complete an R&D project in a mutually agreed timespan. The team will work closely with each Open Labs partner to determine which funding option is suitable - state, private or collaborative options. For example, a smaller project may be well suited to an Innovation Voucher from Enterprise Ireland which will fund product development up to €5,000 allowing the company to retain any intellectual property.
Other options include a mix of state and private funding such as the InterTradeIreland FUSION programme or an Enterprise Ireland Innovation Partnership with DIT. Moreover, once the funding option is agreed upon, the team will support the business through each step of the funding application process.
Speaking yesterday, Director of Research, Enterprise and Innovation Services at DIT, Professor Brian O’Neill says, "Open Labs will not only allow an SME to explore or expand its R&D activity, but it will also demonstrate the talent and real world problem-solving skills of DIT researchers working across the Institute. Open Labs will maximise DIT research capabilities in important high-tech sectors, which are key to establishing Ireland as a Global Innovation Leader while creating high-value jobs and delivering pioneering products of enduring societal impact."