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Myriam Cronin explains her role as GATEWAY UCC Manager in the Irish Examiner

9 Jan 2015
Gateway Mananger Myriam Cronin explains the importance of supporting campus-based start-up businesses in UCC

GATEWAY UCC manager, Myriam Cronin, says “supporting job creation, innovation and entrepreneurship in the knowledge-based sector is a key remit” of the business centre. “We actively support start-ups and entrepreneurs, through our state-of-the-art, on-campus facilities, access to a world-class research environment, mentoring, business coaching and support services.” To date, Gateway-incubated companies support 140 jobs in 20 start-ups specialising in IT/ICT; food; education; health; energy; medical devices and pharma.

The full article can be downloaded here: Examiner Article 09/01/2015

 “The centre is fast-becoming a hub of knowledge-transfer activities in the areas of IT, ICT and food/bio/pharma,” she says. Prior to UCC, Ms Cronin worked with Enterprise Ireland for 20 years, as a development advisor, implementing regional strategy, addressing barriers to economic development, and liaising with third-level institutions to strengthen links with industry and the research community.

            Ms Cronin has been manager of the centre since its establishment, in 2010: it has become a vibrant business incubator measuring 1,200, divided into 21 units of high-quality IT office and wet-laboratory accommodation.

            One of Gateway’s incubation companies is poised to capitalise on global demand for milk, which is expected to hit 350bn litres in 2020. Luxcel Biosciences monitors the growth and viability of cells for food, beverage and pharmaceutical safety. The company has developed a ‘dairy industry game-changing’ platform suite of rapid, microbiology testing products, which assess the quality of the milk through the supply chain, from the dairy parlour to the finished product. The optical-sensing technology monitors the ability of bacteria to grow in liquid or powder milk, and is a faster, and more sensitive, testing solution than standard technologies.

             More importantly, it detects spoilage in dairy that current technologies are missing. With the global dairy industry entering a long-term boom, driven by demand from emerging markets in China and India, as well as by the abolition of EU milk quotas in 2015, competition within the sector has never been more intense, and the highest quality in the production supply chain has now become a major factor for international competition.

             “Luxcel Biosciences is a great example of a company, spun out from UCC, with a focus on global markets and with enormous potential to change the sector in which they operate, through creative and collaborative research and development,” said Ms Cronin. “The product has huge revenue generating potential on a global scale, and, as the first test capable of offering same-day results, really is a game-changing development within the dairy industry. “The company currently employs ten people, but we would clearly expect that to increase. Like so many of our companies at Gateway, they look to horizons well beyond Ireland, and with the potential to generate significant sales, revenue, and employment down the line. Ireland has built a justified, worldwide reputation for the quality of its food, but food safety has now become equally important and this is such a significant addition to the flagship of Ireland internationally,” she says.

             As a catalyst for entrepreneurship through the development of spin-out companies utilising university-generated intellectual property, Gateway supports include mentoring, access to financial advice, seminars, one-to-one consultancy, workshops, introduction to venture-capital opportunities and business-angels programmes. “Companies work in a uniquely supportive environment, with access to UCC’s network of researchers and excellent support, through linkages into academic departments,” she says. The centre also contains hot-desk spaces for entrepreneurs at the prestart- up stage, providing a stimulating environment to nurture and explore the feasibility of their business opportunity. Gateway’s successful spin-outs include Thinksmart Technologies, Solvotrin Therapeutics, Metabolomic Diagnostics and Energywatch, which have all availed of the centre’s services to scale up and develop their businesses.

            “At the moment, the pre- and startup companies within Gateway would collectively employ around 80 people - in effect, the size of a medium enterprise. Their products and services are very much a cross section, and include food, food safety, health, ICT, wearable technology and medical devices.”

            While the Gateway centre assists entrepreneurs with the identification, protection and exploitation of intellectual property, the UCC Technology Transfer Office is the main point of contact for companies seeking partners for collaborative research and advice on licensing and commercial opportunities. Gateway, in association with Enterprise Ireland and the City and County Enterprise Boards, provides access to a panel of mentors and entrepreneurs with advisory services.

            “We collaborate with our strategic partners in the business community, like Enterprise Ireland and Cork Chamber, working constantly towards creating an eco-system to benefit our client companies,” says Ms Cronin. “We effectively work with clients from the very early, petri-dish stage of their idea development, right through to the eventual commercialisation of their product or service. Along this process, we keep them informed of upcoming calls for grant applications, provide visiting speakers on topics relevant to their development, and outline what they need to do in terms of submitting proposals to potential venture-capital companies.”

            Having worked with Enterprise Ireland for two decades, Ms Cronin is well equipped to understand the needs of fledgling companies in their journey from the initial idea stage to the major leap of “jumping off the diving board” into a new, commercial landscape. “It is about getting a client from having a viable opportunity it can exploit, all the way to getting that product into the global marketplace. All of the companies currently going through Gateway are very optimistic about their prospects in 2015, and I would look to the areas of wave and renewable energy as particular areas where new technologies will likely emerge in the year ahead.”

Taken from the Irish Examiner, Date- 09/01/2015


GatewayUCC - Gorlann Ghnó

C/O Office of Technology Transfer, Western Gateway Building, Western Road, Cork, Ireland.,