regional development centre
the link issue one spring 2008
inside: Bright Lights Beckon, Ageing Gracefully, A Standing Novation for Entrepreneurs and more . . .
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Welcome to our first issue of LINK, the newsletter of the Regional Development Centre (RDC) based at Dundalk Institute of Technology (DkIT).
Since we opened in 1989, we have worked to highlight the opportunities and need for innovation, technology transfer and enterprise in the region.
Working closely with partner organisations such as Enterprise Ireland, IDA, Louth County Enterprise Board, Louth County Council, FAS and other Third Level Sector organisations Irene McCausland, RDC Manager as well as a range of partner organisations from Northern Ireland, we aim to make a positive contribution to the economic development of the region through the growth and development of innovative businesses and enterprises.
News in Brief
We act as the commercially oriented interface between DkIT and the industrial, commercial and business life of the region to make available the expertise, facilities and resources of the Institute for the wider benefit of the regional economy. With a dedicated team of 12 people, we achieve this through a range of programmes and activities including research and development and technology transfer; entrepreneurial development programmes; provision of incubation facilities for knowledge-based enterprises; applied research with industry and a range of sectoral and regional development initiatives.
Novation for Entrepreneurs
At the RDC and at our off-campus facility at Millmount in Drogheda, we have incubation units for fledgling technology-based businesses to help them find their feet. Many of our high potential business start ups, who have stayed on with us, are now growing fast and providing additional employment in the region. Our entrepreneurial development programmes such as the Novation Enterprise Platform Programme (NEPP) and The New Media Factory are helping innovative entrepreneurs to get established.
Digitally Diverse Ageing Gracefully
For those at an exploratory stage in business, we offer a cross-border pre-incubation programme, Border Innovation Gateway, aimed at helping budding entrepreneurs to research and assess if their idea is sound and they are the right people to take the idea forward.
Winds of Change
The Regional Development Centre (RDC) is a centre to promote innovation, technology transfer and enterprise in the wider region and is based on the DkIT Campus. The centre receives generous funding from the following organisations
Regional Development Centre Dublin Road Dundalk Co Louth T | +353 42 9331161
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Great care has been taken to ensure that this information is accurate, but the Regional Development Centre, including its subsidiaries does not accept responsibility or liability for errors or information which is found to be misleading.
Our successful start-up companies are often joint ones with our partner organisations, who also have provided funding and assistance and include Movidia, who have scooped the top prize at the Seedcorn competition, Big Mountain, Armac Systems and many others. The Centre is a hive of new innovations. Since the Bright Room, the high definition post-production facility, has opened in the last couple of years, we are seeing a big surge in new creative digital media businesses. Our centre also houses several international research projects. These include the Centre for Renewable Energy at Dundalk Institute of Technology (CREDIT), the ground breaking Smooth Muscle Project, which is the largest group of researchers in physiology and electrophysiology of smooth muscle in Ireland and the UK and the community based Nestling Project which aims to influence how we can provide improved care and services for our increasingly elderly population. We hope you enjoy this first edition of LINK. In our next editions we will aim to cover a wide range of diverse and exciting stories about the activities within our Centre.
News in Brief twelve week business ideas development programme BIG, to really focus on whether her idea had the potential it needed to be successful and to get advice on all the practical business and market research issues.
Dr. Jo McKelvie, Kieran Fegan, Audrey McKeown and Frank Rice, BIG Programme
Entrepreneur and vet, Dr. Jo McKelvie has established a new business, with help from the cross-border Border Innovation Gateway (BIG) pre-incubation programme, which is designed to support innovative ideas in technology or knowledge based areas, at an early stage of development.
Her new consultancy Evita Services, runs and advises on pharmaceutical veterinary clinical trials. It now has a global market with a great demand for her specialist skills and worldwide experience. Initially, Jo found it hard to turn her ideas into a functioning business. She joined the
“The BIG programme has been invaluable to me. I hadn’t taken the time to look at what running a business meant for me and how this would differ from being an employee,” Kieran Fegan, Centre Manager of Greenshoots Newry Ltd, BIG lead partner organisation, spoke about Jo and the BIG programme. “The programme gave Jo the tools she needed to manage the development of her innovative ideas.”
Barrack Street development gets underway
“In the last year, we have helped businesses such as Neuralcore Technologies, in Dundalk who make bespoke high-end computers for gamers and users with special requirements, two renewable energy projects in the Newry area focussed on wind power generation and solar panel technology and we are currently assisting amongst others, Formworks3D, a new design engineering company, Adran Solutions, a company that specialises in HR consultancy and E-nable Design, a new touchscreen technology e-media company. This programme is part financed by the EU through the Interreg 111A Programme and is a joint initiative of Greenshoots Newry Ltd, Regional Development Centre and Southern Regional College.
New research for Wind Turbine Energy storage Larry Staudt and the CREDIT Team
Plans are underway for the innovative new community based housing project for older people at Barrack Street, Dundalk. The project is part funded by the Atlantic Philanthropies and initiated by the Nestling Project Consortium which includes the Local Authority, Health Service Executive (HSE) and the Netwell Centre at Dundalk Institute of Technology (DkIT). The Nestling Project aims to encourage community cooperation and models of integrated care along with the harnessing of technology, to assist elders in living independent lives as long as possible. The Barrack Street pilot housing project will include 16 units of 2 bedroom apartments includes one step-down transition unit. The site is only 1 km from the town centre and has a full range of community facilities within 150m of the accommodation. The cutting edge technology that will be available to residents will include sensors to allow early detection of problems and contact systems that will assist social inclusion and reduce isolation. Construction should start this Spring and it is hoped that the first tenants will benefit from the project in the middle of 2009.
New research is underway by the Centre for Renewable Energy at Dundalk Institute of Technology (CREDIT) into battery storage for the surplus energy that the DkIT campus wind turbine generates at windy times. Currently, the turbine reduces the annual electricity bill of DkIT by approximately 50%. Centre Director Larry Staudt said, “With the development of a set of back-up battery storage onsite, it is hoped, for example, to store any surplus energy production during windy periods and reuse the stored energy for use
at peak times or during low wind periods when production is lower. This will lower energy costs at the campus and the long term research and development of the new technology will set new standards for energy storage with wind turbines in other locations.”
BIG idea helps Jo to start global business
David Tiernan Manager of the high definition post production facility ‘The Bright Room’ at DkIT, spoke about project and what this means for the growth of the digital media, television and film industry in the East Borde
Issue Issue 11
“Before the Bright Room was set up in 2005, research had shown that although there was great potential for the television and film industry in the area, there was a significant production and post-production skills shortage. The local industry was embryonic and fragmented and skilled professionals had to leave the region to work elsewhere,” explained David.
“The Bright Room facility was created as a result of the Midas Initiative, a creative and digital media cluster programme, following the recognition of the cross-border economic potential, by the Regional Development Centre funded through the EU Interreg 111A Programme and the International Fund for Ireland.” Research had shown that a lack of industry level infrastructure in the region was hindering the industry’s development. The Bright Room’s world class post-production facilities
were created to meet this need. “To further expand and encourage the development of the growing creative and digital media industry in the East Border Region, the New Media Factory programme was developed. A three strand approach is helping in the development and expansion of the broader creative and digital media industry, in sectors such as film making, television and video production, multi-media, animation and music technology,” said David. “The first strand of the programme was to create greater interest in the sector and a series of short introductory courses in production and location work, were run in conjunction with the Louth, Newry and Mourne Film Commission.” “There was quite a lot of interest in the camera, lighting, scriptwriting, assistant direction, make-up and production and this has helped local talent learn new industry level skills
and grow the number of production crew members available to work in the region.” “The second strand focussed on the development of skills in postproduction areas such as editing, animation and design. Courses covered programmes including Final Cut Pro, Motion, Pro Tools and 3D Studio Max. Participants had a chance to work on five reallife projects for local companies, producing corporate and marketing videos with a real budget and deadline. Each member of the team took a role in the production team and the projects were each very successful.” “In our third and most recent strand, the New Media Factory is trying to encourage the development of local production and post-production companies. To build a sustainable production and post-production industry here, we need entrepreneurs and
businesses to increase employment opportunities and generate growth in the sector. 12 local digital media professionals and budding entrepreneurs are currently taking part in a 12 week programme of business training, mentoring and networking at the Bright Room to assist them in developing their own innovative business ideas.” Mairtin de Barra, Director of the Louth Newry and Mourne Film Commission is very encouraged by the dynamic growth of companies during the last two years and the opportunities this will bring for local economic development. “The excellent high-tech Bright Room facilities at DkIT have been crucial to the possibility of developing this fast growing sector in a region outside the existing film and tv production hubs in Dublin and Belfast.”
David Tiernan The Bright Room
The Bright Room is Ireland’s first dry-hire only postproduction facility, located in the architecturally renowned, modernist Carroll Building at Dundalk Institute of Technology. The Bright Room is equipped with world class facilities including High Definition (HD) Discreet Smoke, HD Final Cut Pro, HD Green Screen recording, DVD authoring/printing, 3D Animation, compositing and visual effects, HD Pro-tools
and voice recording booth and a large Render farm. So whether it’s a TV documentary, a High Definition feature film, corporate, commercial or a HD to Digi Beta Tape transfer, all the facilities are available to bring projects to completion. The Regional Development Centre (RDC) incubation units now house a number of new dynamic digital media companies whose successes are already apparent.
Big Mountain Productions
Philip McGovern and Jane Kelly,
Ex BBC television producer Jane Kelly, is one of a number of local entrepreneurs leading the growing base of digital media companies who has offices in the RDC incubation units, Dundalk and now also in Newry.
Big Mountain Productions
Jane’s highly successful film production business Big Mountain Productions Ltd, which she set up in 2005 with her television producer husband Philip McGovern, an ex RTE series producer, is now part of a cluster of new and growing digital media companies in the East Border Region.
the ‘New Media Factory’ er Region.
“It is a huge bonus to this crossborder area and has acted as a catalyst and supportive role in the growth of the sector. More and more digital media companies are being set up here, like Big Mountain Productions, Meedja and Zodiac, with people moving back to the area because they know that they have all the facilities they need in Dundalk,” added Mairtin. “The overall Midas clustering initiative for companies to pool resources and share opportunities to tender for larger projects has been very successful.” “Eight of the original cluster companies have formed a limited company Midas Multimedia Ltd. They are now able to use their joint skills and resources to work on very large scale projects, which were previously impossible to access, bringing revenue and employment to the area,” he added.
Since receiving a great deal of support and encouragement from the Regional Development Centre at DKIT and having access to The Bright Room, the new high definition post production facility on the campus, Jane and Philip’s business has grown very fast. They have recently won production contracts for a number of prestigious new factual and event based television series with both the BBC and RTE. They also produce the acclaimed RTE music series ‘The Jam’. Their aim is to develop and produce high quality programming for Irish and UK broadcasters.
Peter Mee and Damian Purcell Midas Multimedia
Peter Mee and Damian Purcell’s company Recordit! a high definition video production company and Peter Mee of RDC based digital media company Meedja, have collaborated on projects since they met through the Midas Initiative, a East Border project to encourage a cluster of digital media companies to improve their business skills and work together. Under the Midas Multimedia Ltd umbrella, they have undertaken a filming and production contract for a prestigious road
safety DVD for schools for the Road Safety Authority. The major project involved filming, post production, interactive 3D games, dramatisations and animation. “Working with the Bright Room facilities and collaborating together, has helped us both to tackle bigger projects than I could not have undertaken on my own.” said Peter. “We continue to use the facilities at The Bright Room regularly including the green screen and editing suites and find this an excellent centre to bring clients,” added Damian.
The Bright Room
A Standing Novation for Entrepreneurs At the heart of the Regional Development Programme are the core principles of Innovation, Technology Transfer and Enterprise Development. And nowhere is this more evident than in the Novation programme which helps many fledgling businesses to grow into successful enterprises. The Regional Development Centre, through its Novation Programme managed by Sean MacEntee is proactive in nurturing new business ideas and start-up businesses. Some of these businesses come into contact with the Regional Development Centre (RDC) when they embark on the twelve month Novation Enterprise Platform Programme (NEPP) business mentoring and development initiative. The programme has helped over 60 startup and newly formed business successes since it was set up over six years ago, of which over 60% are still in business today, a high level of achievement. Between them, these businesses employ over 400 people and have a collective turnover of approximately €30m per annum. Garrett Duffy and Séan McEntee Novation Programme
A measure of success at the RDC can be seen at morning coffee, when the air in the central atrium buzzes with creativity and swapped business know-how. The informal conversations between the entrepreneurial tenants, researchers and business mentors often lead to innovative ideas which have commercial potential.
Entrepreneur Support “Our biggest area of interest is in the incubation centre with the tenant units and the whole entrepreneurial agenda. If you want clustering of entrepreneurs, you need to be linked with research and academic organisations like Dundalk Institute of Technology (DkIT), so it makes sense for the successful Regional Development Centre to be located on the DkIT campus where a culture of innovation is high.”
Rosemary Sexton Enterprise Ireland
The NEPP programme is aimed at graduate level participants developing an innovative product or service in a knowledge based, IT or high technology sector. Brothers Conor and Fintan McCormack, with mechanical and electrical engineering backgrounds, are developing a new and highly innovative prototype machine, the Mcor Matrix. This builds 3D prototype models using A4 paper as its feedstock, a very economical material to use, compared to ABS plastic or plaster. The idea was completely new in Ireland and is in strong demand by design engineers. The new company MCOR technologies, now has an extensive potential global market in the rapidly expanding 3D printer market and has just won best Innovator Company from Louth County Enterprise Board Awards. “We set up the fledgling company in June 2005 and at that stage we hadn’t heard about the RDC,” said Conor.” We have benefited from the really extensive business support, mentoring, business planning and the great networking and contacts we have gained over the last year. We are now at a very crucial stage in our development moving from the research and development to the full commercialisation and production stage,” added Conor and Fintan McCormack, MCOR Technologies Conor.
Work Some RDC entrepreneurs become tenants in the very modern incubation business units at the centre, benefiting from access to high tech facilities, networking contacts and access to research facilities along with the very supportive culture that seems to pervade the centre.
Paul Muldoon, AirEn Services
Paul Muldoon is benefiting from moving to one of the incubation units in the centre. Paul developed his new business AirEn Services, in wind turbines for domestic and commercial use. In researching his innovative ideas, he discovered that the main source of knowledge in renewable energy, the Centre for Renewable Energy (CREDIT), was in fact based at nearby DkIT. CREDIT manage the well-known wind turbine on the campus, administer and lecture on the academic courses at the Institute and carry out ground-breaking research into a number of renewable energy sources. “The director of CREDIT, Larry Staudt, has been a tremendous mentor in the development of my new business, in this newly developing market for wind turbines.” Paul eventually began to struggle to run his growing business from home and was offered an incubation unit at the RDC next door to CREDIT. The two neighbour organisations now collaborate on a number of projects, running a test site for domestic scale wind turbines on the campus and carrying out joint research into wind analysis and feasibility studies for wind turbine locations with some of the DkIT Masters students in Renewable Energy.
Digitally Diverse Keith Bailey and Kornelia Rybacka both achieved exceptional success, as qualified industry professionals for Apple’s Final Cut Pro, after starting out with no previous experience of this film editing software. Both iMedia students took the modular Digital Diversity course, an introduction to digital media and learnt about Adobe Photoshop for digital imaging, Dreamweaver for web authoring, Flash Animation and Final Cut Pro for film editing. They both scored such high marks in their Final Cut Pro module, that the Digital Diversity programme manager, Eamonn Quinn persuaded Apple to let them sit their Train the Trainer courses, which will now allow them both to train others. “Keith and Kornelia have been exceptional students and had a real flair for the Final Cut Pro software programme, even though they were new to this software and the courses were quite a challenge,” he said.
“We have run three iMedia programmes with cross border digital media courses in Dundalk, Banbridge and Armagh and each time, I have been amazed at the talent, skills and interest of the participants. Quite a few have gone on to use their new skills either in their jobs, or to create a new business opportunity, or even just to be able to teach their children about animation or edit the family videos.” Keith Bailey, a professional engineer with a PhD in aerodynamics is setting up his own business Engility, using his new software training skills. “Although I had used Photoshop and Dreamweaver before, I had no experience of Final Cut Pro, said Keith. “I really liked the package and was lucky enough to score really highly in the FCP5 user exam.” “It made sense for me to become a trainer and it works in well with
Taking part in the iMedia Digital Diversity’s new media programme, organised by the Regional Development Centre has allowed a career change for two talented participants.
Keith Bailey, iMedia, Digital Diversity Student
my new business. I am really glad to have had the opportunity to achieve this level thanks to the iMedia course.”
“Our aim has been to increase awareness of opportunities within digital media and try to increase skills base in the Northern Ireland and the southern border counties.” Eamonn Quinn, Digital Diversity Programme Manager.
Eamonn also explained, “The courses also had a cross community content in peace and reconciliation, which was run by an experienced conflict resolution facilitator and leading expert from South Africa, Dr Brandon Hamber.” “The Programme has been so successful in fact that the project has been nominated by the Special European Peace Building Fund as having made an outstanding contribution to peace building and community.” The programme has been funded by the EU’s Programme for Peace and Reconciliation, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body by the Cross Border Consortium.
help older people. “Ageing in place in one’s own home is seen as the most desirable approach to care for the elderly. Unfortunately, houses are often not suitable, home help and support services are sometimes inadequate and transport and accessibility issues mean that social inclusion can be difficult to maintain for the older generation as they become more frail,” he explained. “Research is beginning to show that with new models of care, building design and technology, we can significantly improve the quality of life for us all, as we become older. We have been looking at how other communities elsewhere have developed better ways of keeping independence in the older population, including Holland and in the United States.”
The research based Nestling Project in Dundalk is showing how we need to think ‘out of the box’ about providing improved care and services for our increasingly elderly population.
Rodd is such an advocate for the new project that he has had a very busy twelve months speaking at a number of conferences, including the Netwell Centre’s first conference into collaborative working. He also presented a paper at the Global Futures Project Conference in Seoul, Korea last October. With Rodd’s architectural background, he has been particularly aware of the need to change the built environment in both housing and urban infrastructure, to make both more age-friendly.
A major new collaborative initiative for the North East of Ireland which aims to extend independent living and quality of life for older people, with its new centre in the Regional Development Centre, Dundalk. The Nestling Project run by the Netwell Centre has a number of partners including the Health Services Executive (HSE), Dundalk Institute of Technology (DkIT) and Dundalk Town Council and is additionally supported by the Universities of Ulster and Dublin City.
“Taking part in the World Health Organisation ‘Friendly Cities Project’, has given us a greater understanding of the everyday problems faced by our senior population, in everyday living and getting about in an urban environment,” said Rodd. “Dundalk is one of 33 cities in 22 countries worldwide, who have participated in this unique WHO study and the only Irish city to take part in this research into what makes an age-friendly city,” he added.
Funding has come from part grants by Atlantic Philanthropies and Interreg 111A funding. Director Rodd Bond, is a strong advocate for the role of research and innovative thinking, to improve the way we
“This global research will be very valuable in helping us to shape the future of Dundalk and to help other cities in Ireland to adopt the same principles.”
Rodd Bond (back row, 2nd from left) and Team, Netwell Centre
The Winds of Change With climate change high on the world’s agenda and the recent high prices for oil and petrol products, the applied research being carried out by the Centre for Renewable Energy at Dundalk Institute of Technology (CREDIT), could not be more topical. CREDIT is a research centre which was set up in 2002 with the overall aim of assisting Ireland’s transition to a renewable energy-based economy. Based in the Regional Development Centre on the DkIT campus, CREDIT is now recognised as an Irish Centre of Excellence in renewable energy and one of a small number of such facilities worldwide. Work at the centre is focused on applied research into renewable energy options, towards the development of new energy systems that reduce our dependency on fossil fuels. Raymond Byrne, researcher with CREDIT explained, “We are currently developing a new emissions tool which measures greenhouse gas emissions within an urban area. This new tool creates an emissions profile of an area and allows various options for using renewable energy sources and the addition of more green spaces to be evaluated, in terms of offsetting emissions.” “We are developing this tool as part of the Dundalk 2020 initiative, a sustainable energy community programme which aims to change patterns of energy use to a more sustainable level. We then hope to test this emissions tool in other European cities, in collaboration with Sustainable Energy Ireland.”
“This research could provide a very important tool for architects and urban planners in reducing emissions in urban areas and make a positive contribution to our environments,” he added. “In 2006, the Centre co-developed a pilot model of the Irish economy, simulating its transition towards renewable energy and showing the country’s economy in terms of energy flows in and out. The ECCO model was developed with the Environment Protection Agency and The Foundation for the Economics of Sustainability (FEASTA) and simulates a preliminary model of the Irish economy, currently 90% dependant on fossil fuels.”
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“We are now seeking new funding to allow us to continue in this valuable research.”
Parallel to the research programmes, are the renewable energy education programmes at DkIT. The School of Engineering now runs an MSc in Renewable Energy Systems that commenced in 2006. The Renewable Energy Installer Academy was an Interreg IIIA funded project and is now run by the plumbing department. CREDIT’s own renewable energy technology programmes for the general public focus on domestic technologies are ongoing and information on the courses can be found at www.credit.ie Larry Staudt, Director of CREDIT said, “The MSc course is one of only a few available in the world, putting DkIT at the forefront of the drive for an increase in renewable energy, a reduction of harmful emissions and hopefully a halt to climate change.” Larry Staudt, Director of CREDIT