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- GatewayUCC bridging the gap for research-entrepreneurs
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GatewayUCC bridging the gap for research-entrepreneurs
Myriam Cronin is the manager of GatewayUCC, an Innovation and Incubation Centre designed to support and develop UCC research-led start-ups. As she recruits for the next phase of the SPRINT Accelerator Programme, Myriam explains its impressive impact and what makes it so unique and appealing to budding research-entrepreneurs.
"GatewayUCC works with researchers from the university who are thinking of commercialising a piece of research, starting a spin-out company, and growing that company. We work with start-ups and technology-based IP companies that are using technology developed here in the university, or that are spun into the university and using the services of its research centres.
In 10 years we have worked with about 60 start-ups and scale-ups. Those companies now employ over 370 people. They have raised finance, both public and private, of about €40m to finance their companies; annually, they have a wage bill in the region of up to €22m. So, there’s a significant impact of the work that we do here.
I developed the SPRINT Accelerator Programme because I saw a need for up-skilling the commercial side of the researchers’ information going forward. SPRINT is a 20-module programme which up-skills the researcher with all the soft and hard skills that you would need to know when you’re starting a business, and that you might not necessarily have access to from the research community.
"In 10 years we have worked with about 60 start-ups and scale-ups. Those companies now employ over 370 people. They have raised finance, both public and private, of about €40m to finance their companies; annually, they have a wage bill in the region of up to €22m" - Myriam Cronin
During the course of the programme we:
- look at the business proposition, customer offering, pivoting, developing a business plan, and the regulatory and legal requirements;
- hold a series of lectures from serial entrepreneurs who would have started in scale companies and, maybe, sold them and are now looking for investment opportunities;
- introduce them to mentors and coaches that will help them to develop their product or service, and we get them pitching in front of investors;
- get their business plan developed to a phase where an investor would show interest in supporting the venture going forward;
- look at term sheets and how to negotiate the best package for a researcher when they’re bringing in finance to their company;
- look at team-building and psycho-metric testing of the researcher, to see who they would work best with on a team.
The people who come on SPRINT don’t know what to expect when they come on, and I think the programme has always exceeded their expectations.
It has given them the confidence to take their product further; it has shown them what they don’t know; it has introduced them to networks that they could not necessarily otherwise access.
It has also taught them how to present themselves in a way that encourages all the stakeholders –staff, management, financial institutions – so that they can grow and scale their company.
It really opens a whole network to them, but it also opens their eyes on how to best manage the IP offering business that they’re developing.
We’re in our fourth year of our SPRINT programme. We’ve already put 30 researchers through the programme – about 20 of those have started companies, and the other 10 are probably still in the process of thinking that through.
We are now looking at our new programme. We have a number of people already interested and accepted onto that programme, but we have one or two – maybe three – spaces still available.
If there is anyone out there who thinks there may be a commercial output of the research they’re doing, then we’d be delighted to speak to them. And if the programme is for them, we’d be delighted to bring them on board."
For more information about GatewayUCC and the SPRINT Accelerator Programme, follow this link.