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NUI Galway Host International Active Citizenship and Disability Conference
Monday, 17 October 2011
The Centre for Disability Law and Policy at NUI Galway will bring together key international thinkers and actors who have transformed disability policy and service provision for a one-day conference. The Active Citizenship and Disability Conference will be held in the Clayton Hotel in Galway City on Friday, 4 November. The event will be a forum in which participants can reflect on the sharp break needed between traditional welfare-oriented supports for persons with disabilities and a newer model that aims to underpin independence, choice and active citizenship. Since the Health Service Executive report on deinstitutionalisation entitled 'A Time To Move On' in July this year, Ireland has been on the cusp of a major reform agenda of its antiquated and outmoded institutions for persons with disabilities. The Centre for Disability Law and Policy at NUI Galway is dedicated to inform and lead that change. Director of the Centre, Professor Gerard Quinn, who co-drafted the United Nations Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, says: “The conference is important in that it will provide a meeting point between theorists who bring important perspectives from the new UN disability convention, policy makers interested in redesigning service delivery models, service providers interested in re-imagining their services in the decades to come, and persons with disabilities anxious to ensure that future services are adequate to ensure their right to live independent lives and be included in the community.” Conference speakers include Martin Routledge, Director of Operations at In Control and who has been a key figure in the reform of adult social care services at the Department of Health in the UK, and Brian Salisbury, Strategic Director at Community Living British Columbia, who has driven service reform and individual funding in British Columbia. In addition, Patricia Fratangelo from New York, a world-renowned expert in service transformation, will speak about her experiences in grappling with change. Each of these international speakers are also giving more time to discuss the finer details of reform at a workshop event hosted by the Federation of Voluntary Bodies on Thursday, 3 November. For further information, including the conference programme, registration and a list of speakers, see www.nuigalway.ie/cdlp/events.html. For other enquiries contact Mary McQuinn at 091 495888 or email@example.com. -ENDS-
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Major Funding Boost for Pain Research at NUI Galway
Monday, 17 October 2011
Researchers at the NUI Galway’s Centre for Pain Research were recently granted two major research funding awards. Dr David Finn was awarded a grant worth almost €1 million under the Science Foundation Ireland Principal Investigator programme and Dr Brian McGuire received funding of over €700,000 under the Health Research Board Interdisciplinary Capacity Enhancement programme, which aims to develop leading Irish health researchers. Dr David Finn, Co-Director of Centre for Pain Research and Lecturer in Pharmacology was awarded the grant for his research programme entitled The role of the endocannabinoid system in anxiety-induced modulation of pain: sites and mechanisms of action. The programme seeks to advance our understanding of the neurobiology of anxiety-pain interactions and will employ two postdoctoral researchers and PhD students. Dr Finn will collaborate with Dr Michelle Roche, Lecturer in Physiology at NUI Galway, and with colleagues at University College London and the University of Nottingham on a series of experiments to investigate how the body’s own marijuana-like substances regulate pain during times of stress and anxiety. Dr Finn said: “Anxiety and pain often occur together and there is evidence that anxiety can trigger the onset of pain and magnify existing pain, so anxiety may be an important target for new therapies in people with pain problems. Increased understanding of the effects of stress on pain is important and could pave the way for identification of new medications and other treatments for pain and anxiety disorders.” Co-Director of the Centre for Pain Research and Senior Lecturer in Clinical Psychology, Dr Brian McGuire’s research programme will focus on chronic pain (pain that lasts more than 3 months). The award will fund three post-doctoral researchers from psychology, health promotion and health economics for a period of three years. The research programme will look at a number of important aspects of chronic pain. The first study will examine the problem of chronic pain in young children aged 5 to12 years and will aim to find out how many children have chronic pain, how it affects them and their families, and how much it costs in economic terms. In the second study, researchers will evaluate a pain management programme using cognitive behavioural therapy which will be delivered over the internet. The third study will examine how GPs make clinical judgments about treating people with chronic low back pain and will provide information to the GPs with the aim of helping them to make better decisions. The project involves collaborators from the disciplines of general practice, medicine, health promotion, psychology and economics. Commenting on his project, Dr McGuire said: “These projects have the potential to provide valuable information for health professionals, managers and policy makers. Most importantly, this research will help people who live with chronic pain on a daily basis.” More information about NUI Galway’s Centre for Pain Research can be found at http://www.nuigalway.ie/centre_pain_research/ -ENDS-
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Unlocking the Value of Public Data...from the Obama Administration to Fingal County Council
Thursday, 13 October 2011
A worldwide movement which aims to unlock the value of public data will be the focus of a free symposium ‘Opening Up Government Data’ on 8 November. Organised by the Digital Enterprise Research Institute (DERI) at NUI Galway, the event will show the potential benefits of Open Data to public authorities, businesses, organisations and citizens. The goal of the Open Data initiative is to motivate governments to make public information freely available and easily accessible online. The benefits of Open Data are economic, through the identification of new business opportunities, and also social, through increased transparency and accountability. DERI is at the forefront of this movement, developing tools and technologies that are being adopted around the world. Web standards developed at the institute have been adopted by the Obama administration in their Open Government initiatives. In Ireland, DERI collaborates closely with local authorities such as Fingal County Council and the Local Government Computer Services Board, as well as the National Cross-Industry Working Group on Open Data to promote Open Data. Deirdre Lee, eGovernment Leader at DERI, explains: “One of the leading examples of opening up government data is data.gov, the US Open Data website launched by the Obama administration. Soon after, the UK launched data.gov.uk, and in total more than 140 regions and countries now publishes their data online. In Ireland, one of the early adaptors has been Fingal County Council, with DUBLinked, a consortium of Dublin councils, set to launch a similar Open Data website.” Today’s local and national governments generate and collect valuable information, be that demographic information, roads extension plans, teacher-pupil ratios in schools, hospital attendance rates or planning applications. Often this information is not publicly available. Even if available, public information is often locked away in proprietary formats, making it difficult and expensive to find, analyse and reuse. Professor Stefan Decker, Director of DERI at NUI Galway, says: “Open Data is key to supporting a truly transparent and participatory democratic system. It also enables entrepreneurs to build innovative applications and businesses around this data, resulting in job creation and general economic benefit. DERI’s eGovernment and Linked Data Research is leading the way nationally and internationally.” With over 140 researchers, DERI is one of the world's leading international web science research institutes, and has a specific focus on the Semantic Web and Networked Knowledge. DERI is a Centre for Science, Engineering and Technology (CSET) established in 2003 with funding from Science Foundation Ireland. As a CSET, DERI brings together academic and industrial partners to boost innovation in science and technology, with its research focused on the Semantic Web. DERI has leveraged its SFI CSET funding to add significant additional research funding from the European Union, Enterprise Ireland, and industry sources. The event on Tuesday, 8 November, is called Opening Up Government Data, and takes place at DERI’s headquarters in NUI Galway. For further information, go to www.deri.ie/about/open-data or contact Deirdre Lee, eGovernment Leader in DERI on 091 495336, email firstname.lastname@example.org -ends-
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Preparing graduates for jobs in Ireland’s knowledge economy
Thursday, 13 October 2011
An exciting PhD programme to prepare science graduates for jobs in Ireland’s knowledge economy was launched today, 10 October 2011, in Newman House by Minister Sean Sherlock TD, Minister of State with special responsibility for Research and Innovation. The Clinical and Translational Research Scholars Programme (CTRSP) was developed by Molecular MedicineIreland and its academic partners, NUI Galway,TrinityCollege, UCC and UCD, and was awarded funding of €4.3m earlier this year under Cycle 5 of the Government’s Programme for Research in Third-Level Institutions (PRTLI). The CTRSP also benefitted from the extensive involvement of industry partners such as Amgen, Pfizer, Creganna-Tactx, Merrion Pharmaceuticals as well as the Irish Medicines Board. The CTRSP is a four year structured PhD programme which will train scholars to translate patient and disease-focused research into clinically effective and commercial applications. These are the kind of skills required by knowledge industries in the health sector and in start-up companies. Twenty science graduates have enrolled on the programme following a competitive selection process. Four of these scholars Edel McGarry, NUI Galway, Eilis Dockry, TCD, Wesley van Oeffelen, UCC and Trudy McGarry, UCD spoke at the launch giving their views on why they were attracted to the CTRSP and their future career plans. One of the unique features of this collaborative programme is that during the first year, the scholars have the opportunity to attend each of the four participating institutions for taught modules. The first 20 scholars - five each from NUI Galway, UCC,TrinityCollegeand UCD - begin the programme tomorrow with a four week period of taught courses in UCD andTrinityCollege. This will be followed by short placements in academic research groups, clinical research centres and in industry and specialist taught modules. Tom Lynch, the Chair of MMI said that, “The CTRSP will address the deficit in the number of scientists in Ireland undertaking innovative patient and disease-focused research with a key understanding of how to translate research results to the clinic.” The CTRSP combines collaborative teaching, research and clinical expertise of academic medical centres, industry, and the Irish Medicines Board in a structured PhD programme that provides graduates with research training of the highest quality and an in-depth understanding of the clinical, commercial and regulatory environment essential for effective careers in healthcare research. In launching the CTRSP, Minister Sherlock said, “I strongly believe this new programme is very important on a number of strategic levels. It will deliver more scientists inIreland who are undertaking innovative patient and disease-focused research, and then crucially bringing their findings from the bench to the clinic for the ultimate benefit of our population’s health.” Minister Sherlock continued by saying, “I am delighted to see further tangible evidence of howIreland’s higher education sector, in developing this type of programme, is delivering for our enterprise needs. For me, a major source of encouragement to be taken from the CTRSP is the strong focus on commercialisation – on the critical need to translate our research discoveries into commercial outputs, and in this regard I want to commend Molecular MedicineIreland and all involved in this initiative.” Speaking at the launch, Professor Laurence Egan, Department of Clinical Pharmacology at NUI Galway, a director of MMI and the Principal Applicant on the CTRSP application, said “This important collaborative programme focuses the clinical and translational research expertise and resources of four institutions, working together through MMI, to develop future leaders to bring innovative discoveries to the market and to patients. These scholars will be well trained to work with clinicians, for jobs in the pharmaceutical industry or to start their own companies.” For additional information please contact MMI’s Education and Training Team at 01 477 9817 or email email@example.com-
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NUI Galway Unemployment Figures Lowest in Higher Education Sector
Wednesday, 12 October 2011
NUI Galway today (Wednesday, 12 October) announced very positive findings on the jobs front for its graduates with some 96.8% of graduates currently are not seeking employment, the best figure in the higher education sector in Ireland. With national unemployment figures at 14.5%, only 3.2% of the NUI Galway class of 2009/2010 are actively seeking employment. The number of NUI Galway graduates going directly into employment during this period was 47.5%, up 4% on the previous year, with a significant percentage going on to further studies. The data comes from an annual survey of almost 4,000 graduates on NUI Galway full-time programmes, conducted nine months after graduation. John Hannon, Head of the Careers Development Centre at NUI Galway, commented: “This survey gives an invaluable insight into employment opportunities. The Standardised Unemployment Rate is more than four times that of NUI Galway. We are delighted to have such positive news and to see that NUI Galway graduates are valued and sought after by employers. Graduates are our future leaders and their ‘get-up-and-go’ attitude, skills and knowledge can generate the enterprise and innovation required to boost Ireland’s economic recovery.” The challenging economic climate in recent years has led to increased numbers embarking on postgraduate study. Again the statistics for NUI Galway are positive, with just over 3% of graduates from postgraduate programmes seeking employment. Mr Hannon added: "NUI Galway statistics are very positive when compared to the national average. However, we cannot forget how challenging the current economic climate actually is for graduates who are looking for employment. It is gratifying to see that graduates who have invested in postgraduate diplomas, masters and PhDs not only enhance their learning but increased their employability. At NUI Galway we place a lot of emphasis on developing employability skills. Many of our newest courses were developed in partnership with industry and specifically to fill a skills gap in the market. We also provide students with additional opportunities for learning in a real world context through work placment, volunteering and community outreach, giving our graduates additional evidence that they have the personal and academic attributes sought by employers.” Sancha Mulcahy, HR Manager with Deloitte, said: “Deloitte is looking for people who feel energised working in a team, who are innovative thinkers and who set high standards for themselves. Graduates of NUI Galway possess the knowledge and skills required to succeed in a firm like Deloitte. We are delighted to be able to offer over 200 graduate positions this year, which is a significant increase on last year. As a result, we expect to see an increase in the number of NUI Galway graduates joining Deloitte. The positions will be available to graduates from a range of disciplines, including business, accounting, engineering, science, IT and legal backgrounds amongst others.” -ENDS-
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Galway Mum launches iPhone App for Family Holidays in Ireland: New Travel App, Ireland: Are We There Yet?
Wednesday, 12 October 2011
Galway-based, mother-of-two and NUI Galway graduate Ann Brehony has just launched the essential family holiday helper through her first digital mobile app in the App Store. The app Ireland: Are We There Yet?was released through a publishing deal with an American digital travel publisher Sutro Media. Featuring over 130 places to visit in Ireland with kids, this app provides families with an invaluable tool that will keep everyone happy on daytrips or holidays. Covering the country both North and South with new ways of seeing old favourites like the Rock of Cashel and The Giant’s Causeway plus a host of new attractions as diverse as Aunt Sandra’s Candy Factory in Belfast or a Toy Soldier Factory in Cork. On explaining the origin of the idea, author and creator Ann Brehony, said: “As part of my MA in Publishing at NUI Galway, I had to complete a business plan for an innovative new publishing venture. I produced a plan for an online travel guide for families on holiday in Ireland called 'Are We There Yet?' The course tutors were very encouraging about my idea and suggested it was something I should pursue on graduation. They helped me shape a business analysis framework for my thesis and this framework allowed me to investigate cutting-edge digital publishing models from around the world which then led me to explore the mobile app route for my idea, from there it really took off and within nine months of graduating I had secured a publishing deal.” Ms Brehony added: “As a mother of two, I know how important it is to keep kids amused and engaged while on daytrips or holidays, if they’re happy then we’re all happy! It was a real labour of love and the kids and I had such a great time discovering the many gems on offer around the country.” Publishers Sutro Media say “This app is like the local cousin you never knew you had! It has sussed the best ways to visit Ireland with kids so you don't have to do the legwork. This app is written with genuine insight, humour and charm and is packed with places to go and things to do with kids on holiday in Ireland.” Highlights of the app include: County-by-county listings of family-friendly attractions complete with car games and scavenger hunts to keep the kids amused on the go A full nationwide listing of free outdoor play areas. Filled with wonderful photography, each entry has links to websites and YouTube clips giving background information on all the local colour needed to plan a successful stress-free visit. The app links you into a whole community of other app users who can share their tips and experiences. A treasure-trove of quirky hints on how to find a song for every county, the best local sweets to try and handy pit stops for long journeys. Perfect for keeping the kids amused without breaking the bank during the mid-term break. Constantly updated and available on the go on your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch. The app costs €2.39, £1.79, $2.99 and is published by Sutro Media. -Ends-
RSA Lecture Focuses on Behaviour of Young Drivers
Tuesday, 11 October 2011
- 1 in 5 Male Drivers Under 25 Admit to Having Raced Another Driver - The results of a survey presented today, Monday, 10October, at the Road Safety Authority (RSA) Annual Road Safety Lecture revealed that 1 in 5 male drivers aged under 25 reported having raced another driver on a public road at some point in the past. The survey, conducted by Dr Kiran Sarma, Chartered Psychologist and Lecturer in Psychology at NUI Galway, also revealed that young male drivers reported more frequent speeding, reckless driving and use of mobile phones while driving. RSA research presented at the lecture revealed that 5,678 road-users aged between 17 and 24 years old were killed or seriously injured on Irish roads between 1997 and 2009. The lecture, which focused on the driving behaviour of 17 to 24 year old road-users, is the first event in ‘Irish Road Safety Week’ which runs from Monday, 10 October to Sunday, 16 October. At the lecture, Dr Kiran Sarma presented the results of his survey of 1,500 drivers on the relationship between psychology and risky driving behaviour. Dr Sarma’s research found that the frequency of speeding among young male drivers was associated with positive attitudes towards speeding and a higher prevalence of personality traits such as impulsiveness and excitement seeking. Mr Noel Brett, Chief Executive, Road Safety Authority said: “The focus of today’s lecture is young drivers aged 17 to 24 years old who are among the highest risk road-users on our roads. Research tells us that this group of road-users are three times more likely to be killed on the roads than any other road-user. In fact, 5,678 young road-users with their lives ahead of them were killed or seriously injured on Irish roads in the period 1997 to 2009. This is roughly the same as the population ofWestportin Co. Mayo. When you think of it in those terms, we are reminded of how needless this loss of life is.” “But it’s also important to say that not all young drivers are risky or dangerous drivers. Today’s lecture has shown how important it is to support our younger road-users in forming positive attitudes to road safety as early as possible.” Dr Sarma’s research also revealed that risky driving behaviour was linked with pro-speeding attitudes among friends and family, a greater tendency to become angry in response to other drivers’ actions and a belief that the driver could control his or her car, even in challenging driving conditions. Some young male drivers also saw their car as being a core part of who they are – this was related to more extreme driving behaviour. Speaking at the lecture, Dr Sarma said: “This research helps us to understand the psychology of young male drivers and can inform the way we respond to risky and reckless driving. The research would suggest that addressing speeding attitudes is important but that deeper psychological factors are also linked to dangerous driving on our roads.” Professor Andrew Tolmie from theInstituteofEducation,UniversityofLondonalso spoke at the lecture about his recent paper for the Department for Transport (UK) on ‘The development of children’s and young people’s attitudes to driving. Professor Tolmie’s research highlighted that becoming a driver starts in childhood, although this becomes more focused during adolescence. His research also showed that family and peer influence is critical in forming attitudes and behaviours and suggested that the pre-driver period may present the best opportunity for forming positive attitudes to driving. Professor Tolmie said: “Becoming a driver is something that starts in childhood, as soon as children become aware that this is something that adults do, and it becomes a real aspirational focus during adolescence, as teenagers begin to imagine themselves having the freedom that driving brings. Watching how parents behave, talking about driving with friends and the images associated with driving all have an influence on how young drivers first act on the road. Poor influences at this stage lead to poor driving behaving later - if we want to increase young drivers' safety, it is during the teenage years, before they begin to drive, that we need to act.” 1,352 17-24 year olds were killed on Irish roads between 1997 and 2009, representing 28% of all road deaths in that period. Over one third (35%) of these fatalities took place between 12:00am (midnight) and 4:59am. The research also found that 17 to 24 year old car drivers are five times more likely to be killed on Irish roads than any other driver. In fatal collisions where excessive speed was cited as a contributory factor, half of all drivers responsible were males aged 17 to 24 years old. Furthermore, 2 in 5 of all passengers aged 17 to 24 who were killed on the road were in a car being driven by a 17 to 24 year old male driver. ENDS
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New Findings on How the Brain’s Own Marijuana-Like Chemicals Suppress Pain
Tuesday, 11 October 2011
New findings about how the brain functions to suppress pain have been published in the leading journal Pain, by NUI Galway researchers. For the first time, it has been shown that the hippocampus of the brain, which is usually associated with memory, has an active role to play in suppressing pain during times of stress. The work was carried out by researchers in Pharmacology and Therapeutics, and the Centre for Pain Research at the National Centre for Biomedical Engineering Science, NUI Galway. In times of immense stress or fear, pain transmission and perception can be suppressed potently in humans and other animals. This important survival response can help us cope with, or escape from, potentially life-threatening situations. An increased understanding of the biological mechanisms involved in this so-called fear-induced analgesia is important from a fundamental physiological perspective and may also advance the search for new therapeutic approaches to the treatment of pain. Dr David Finn, Co-Director of the Centre for Pain Research at NUI Galway, and study leader, says: “The body can suppress pain when under extreme stress, in part through the action of marijuana-like substances produced in the brain. What we have now identified for the first time, is that the brain’s hippocampus is an important site of action of these endocannabinoids during the potent suppression of pain by fear. This research, which was funded by a grant from Science Foundation Ireland, advances our fundamental understanding of the neurobiology of pain and may facilitate the identification of new therapeutic targets for the treatment of pain and anxiety disorders.” Working with Dr Finn, first author Dr Gemma Ford was able to demonstrate that inhibition of the enzyme that breaks down one of these endogenous marijuana-like substances in the hippocampus, had the effect of enhancing stress-induced pain suppression. Further experimentation revealed that these effects were mediated by the cannabinoid CB1 receptor and were likely to be mediated by stress-induced increases in levels of endocannabinoids in the hippocampus. -ends-
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Calling All NUI Galway Graduates of 1986 and 1991
Tuesday, 11 October 2011
NUI Galway will hold a reunion for graduates from the classes of 1986 and 1991 to celebrate the 20th and 25thanniversaries of their graduation on Saturday, 5 November. The reunion will begin at 3pm in the Quadrangle with a reception and photo exhibition of their student days, followed by a bus tour of campus. The celebrations will continue later that evening inGalway’s Hotel Meyrick with a special reunion dinner. Sandra Butler, NUI Galway Alumni Association Chairperson, encourages everyone to attend: “Reunions are special opportunities for graduates and friends to revisit NUI Galway and renew old acquaintances. These events come around just once a decade. So book your place now and get in contact with your classmates and friends and encourage them to come too.” For further information and to book your place, contact Colm O’Dwyer in the Alumni Office on 091 493750 or email firstname.lastname@example.org -ENDS-
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Big Ideas from NUI Galway Attract Attention from Investors
Friday, 14 October 2011
An Enterprise Ireland event to showcase 120 ‘Big Ideas’ was opened by the Minister for Research and Innovation, Sean Sherlock on Monday, 10 October in the Convention Centre, Dublin. 17 of the 120 inventions developed by publicly-funded researchers emerged from NUI Galway. One of these inventions is at the core of a new company called seevl ltd. This company developed technology to mine the Web to provide detailed information on artists and their music to online listeners, and let them discover music they will love. seevl is already being used in a browser extension of YouTube. Recent figures show a large user base of people listening to music online with the YouTube VEVO channel reaching 60 million unique visitors in July 2011. With Enterprise Ireland’s assistance seevl was established by Alexandre Passant and his fellow music-lovers as a spin-out from the Digital Enterprise Research Institute (DERI) at NUI Galway earlier this year. According to Alexandre Passant: “It has been a thrill just getting this company off the ground, and then to have such feedback, and participate in Big Ideas only five months after the public launch of the start-up. Big Ideas was an ideal showcase for us in terms of industry contacts, and we are delighted by the support given to us by Enterprise Ireland and DERI. Galway is a real hotbed of innovation and technology, and we are delighted to be part of this vibrant space.” Opening the event and announcing the winners of the Enterprise Ireland Commercialisation Awards, Minister Sherlock said: “It is exciting, highly encouraging and very promising for the future to see such a range of high end technologies emerging from publicly-funded research. I am delighted to see that many of the Big Ideas being presented to the investor community today have the potential to become vibrant new companies.” The Minister added: “Enterprise Ireland and the Higher Education Institutes working together have built 185 spin-out companies from State-funded research to date. Besides creating jobs, it is uplifting to see that many of the “Big Ideas” can help people here in Ireland and across the globe with health and lifestyle issues. The Big Ideas event is the largest annual gathering of inventors and investors in the country. 120 new technologies being developed for the marketplace, will be unveiled and, of these the promoters of 18 ‘investor ready’ technologies will be vying for the attention of 200 potential investors attending the event. The ‘Big Ideas’ Showcase is a key event funded by the Government to help develop publicly-funded research into new companies, technologies and services. Feargal Ó Móráin, Executive Director of Enterprise Ireland said: “the focus of the Big Ideas event is to get some deals done between the inventors and investors during the 150 one-to-one meetings which will take place. Enterprise Ireland, in partnership with the Higher Education Institutes, is providing the right environment for investors to explore options to either licence these new technologies from researchers or use them as the basis to form new companies in the energy, life sciences, medical, engineering and IT sectors”. While the Irish system for transferring technology from Third Level Education Institutes into industry is relatively new, the outputs compare favourably with the latest available data from the US and EU authorities in this area – Ireland is creating four spin-outs per $100m invested by the State compared to two in Europe and one in the US. The Minister presented Enterprise Ireland Commercialisation Awards to three companies that showcased their technologies at similar events in the past and have since successfully established a spin-out company. ENDS
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