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Encouraging entrepreneurial spirit

New Head of Technology Transfer and Commercialisation Siobhán Jordan anticipates the future of entrepreneurship and innovation at Teagasc.

Summertime always brings a sense of eager anticipation. It’s a chance to enjoy better weather; meet up with family and friends; go on holiday; and catch up on reading. 

And I feel that same sense of eager anticipation across all areas of Teagasc. Happily, this anticipation doesn’t seem to be seasonal – it’s been evident to me since I took up the role as Head of Technology Transfer and Commercialisation in mid-February 2022. Having spent over 20 years working at the interface of research and industry in Scotland, it has been exciting to return home to forge new connections in my role to support entrepreneurship and innovation.  

Visits to Teagasc’s many and varied research centres and unique facilities – including the National Prepared Consumer Food Centre (PCFC) and the National Innovation Hub – have highlighted the passion, enthusiasm and real interest in how world leading research in Teagasc can deliver innovation and solutions for national and international food and agri-tech companies.

Laying strong foundations for future success

Here in the Technology Transfer department, our work aims to build on the ‘Teagasc Together’ strategy of harnessing the power of research to create sustainable food systems.

For example, the newly launched Teagasc START fund for staff members is encouraging novel ideas that ultimately support a range of areas, including climate mitigation technologies, new or enhanced food and drink products and process innovations, or agricultural and agri-tech products, processes or services.  

This fund is already making a huge impact – three projects funded during the pilot in 2021 have successfully completed their initial proof of concept, and are now progressing to the next stages of exploration.

Working with the team at VistaMilk SFI Research Centre, we’re inspiring and nurturing impact from PhD students, post docs and early stage career researchers. Such support and guidance can be a game changer for those early on in their research journey.

It is encouraging that impacts are already being realised. In March 2022, Teagasc Research Officer Maria Hayes won the Teagasc Award at UCC’s SPRINT Accelerator Programme – a programme designed to support early-stage start-ups and entrepreneurs. The programme has allowed Maria to explore potential pathways for PAW – a project focused on pet aging and heart health.

Teagasc and UCC’s spinout company SeqBiome is also continuing to go from strength to strength, and is busy recruiting new staff members to support it in its high-quality and interactive microbiome sequencing and bioinformatics offer.

I have no doubt that as long as we continue to collaborate, network, translate research into technology offers and work with a visionary approach, we will unlock exemplar innovation and entrepreneurship.  

TResearch Summer 2022

Maria Hayes (fourth from left) receiving the Teagasc Award at UCC’s SPRINT event