Minister turns first sod for new University Innovation Centre

Monday, 8 October 2001

Release date: 8 October, 2001

Minister turns first sod for new University Innovation Centre

Mr. Noel Treacy, TD, Minister for Science and Technology, turned the sod today (Monday, 8 October) for the AIB University Business Innovation Centre on the NUI, Galway campus. Speaking at the sod turning ceremony Minister Treacy said "This facility will provide an additional 7,500 sq. ft. of accommodation to house up to 18 new start-up businesses wishing to locate at the University. The new Centre represents a £1.6 million (€2m) investment, with funding made available by Enterprise Ireland, Allied Irish Banks, and NUI, Galway. This new centre will make a major contribution to Enterprise Ireland s strategy of increasing the number of new technology start-up companies with export potential.

Dr. Iognaid Ó Muircheartaigh, President of NUI, Galway, welcomed the advent of the AIB University Business Innovation Centre saying, "The establishment of the first Innovation Center on the Galway campus in 1984 showed a commitment by the University to put its resources at the disposal of potential entrepreneurs and to provide a means for the commercialisation of research results which would generate employment and facilitate further economic development in the Western Region". Since 1984, more than 30 companies, employing some 320 people have started life in the incubator accommodation. Dr. Ó Muircheartaigh said he hoped that the new Center would provide a steady stream of new companies with the potential to provide employment for highly trained graduates in the city and region. He welcomed Enterprise Ireland's support for the new Center and noted that the Agency was also currently considering proposals for the provision of an Entrepreneur Development Programme on the NUI, Galway campus, to be supported by NUI, Galway and Enterprise Ireland. Current indications in this respect are very positive. This programme would create an additional stream of new knowledge-based companies seeking to locate in the new Innovative Centre.

Mr. Seamus Bree, Director, Enterprise Ireland, West Region said, "This is a very welcome addition to the incubator space already established here in NUI, Galway. It underpins the strong link which exists between the University and business development, and will speed up the process of getting new high-growth companies established".

Gary Kennedy, Financial Director, AIB Group stated, "It is our strategic intent to both support, and get increasingly involved with, early stage businesses in the high technology sectors, particularly in the entrepreneurial and supportive environment being developed at NUI, Galway. AIB is delighted to become involved with this exciting project which is a significant development for the business sector, both on and off campus, and for the region".

Dr. Joe Watson, Director of the AIB University Business Innovation Centre said, "The Centre will provide a focal point for the interaction of the University with industry. It underlines the crucial importance of easy access to information and expertise in today's society. Companies locating in this Centre will be doing so because they need close access to the University s academic researchers and facilities. They will be able to utilize these contacts to build and maintain competitiveness in the knowledge economy.

There are almost 12,000 students at NUI, Galway, of which 1,495 are full-time postgraduates, with over 500 engaged in research. This strong research base represents a fruitful source of ideas for commercialisation and the students form a very significant pool of entrepreneurial talent and technical expertise with the resulting potential for enterprise generation. NUI, Galway undertakes more than £11.5 million of funded research projects on campus each year.

Ends

Information from: Máire Mhic Uidhir, Press Officer, NUI, Galway. Tel. 091 750418

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