2015 Press Releases

My job - Myriam Cronin Gateway UCC

16 Jan 2015
Myriam Cronin, Manager GATEWAY UCC (far left) at recent Luxcel Biosciences launch with Professor Anita Maguire, Vice-President for Research and Innovation at UCC, Minister for Agriculture, Food & the Marine, Mr. Simon Coveney TD and Dr Richard Fernandes, Luxcel Biosciences CEO and Co-founder

Gateway UCC Manager Myriam Cronin talks job creation, innovation and entrepreneurship with the Irish Examiner and how the initiative contributes heavily to the lifeblood of our economy.

(Reproduced courtesy of the Irish Examiner and journalist John Daly. Originally published Friday 9 January 2015)


Interview: John Daly

Name: Myriam Cronin

Occupation: Manager, Gateway UCC Business Innovation and Incubation Centre

Background: Established in 2010, Gateway provides a commercial eco-system supporting campus based businesses both at spin-in and spin-out development stages. The centre provides start-up companies with a complete business supports and mentoring programme, with access to the full range of University facilities.

“Supporting job creation, innovation and entrepreneurship in the knowledge-based sector is a key remit of Gateway UCC,” explains Myriam Cronin. “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 with over 20 company stare-ups ranging across a wide spectrum, including IT/ICT; food; education; health; energy; medical devices and pharma.

“The centre is fast becoming a hub of knowledge transfer activities in the areas of IT, ICT and food/bio/pharma,” she adds.

Prior to working with UCC, Ms Cronin worked with Enterprise Ireland for 20 years as a Development Advisor, implementing regional strategy, addressing barriers to economic development in the region and liaising with third-level institutions to strengthen linkages with industry and the research community. She has worked as Manager of the centre from its initial establishment in 2010 to oversee its current status as a vibrant business incubator providing 1,200 sq mt divided into twenty-one units of high quality IT office and wet laboratory accommodation. 

With global demand for milk expected to hit 350 billion litres in 2020, one of Gateway’s incubation companies is poised to capitalise on the opportunity. Luxcel Biosciences had developed a technology to monitor 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 - the Luxcel Biosciences Greenlight test - which assess the quality of the milk right 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 new emerging markets in China and India as well as the abolition of EU milk quotas in 2015, competition within the dairy sector has never been more intense, and the highest quality in the dairy production supply chain has now become a major factor for international competition.

“Luxcel Biosciences is a great example of a company, spun outfrom 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 Myriam 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 an significant addition to the flagship of Ireland internationally,” she adds.

As a catalyst for entrepreneurship though the development of spin-out companies exploiting 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.”

The Centre also contains hot-desk spaces for entrepreneurs at the pre-start-up stage, providing a stimulating environment to nurture and explore the feasibility of their business opportunity. Since the opening of Gateway UCC in 2010, successful spin-outs including Thinksmart

Technologies, Solvotrin Therapeutics, Metabolomic Diagnostics and Energywatch have all availed of the centre’s services to scale up and develop their businesses. 

“At the moment the pre and start up 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 other commercial opportunities. Gateway, in association with Enterprise Ireland and the City and County Enterprise Boards,  provide 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 Myriam 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 outlining what they need to do in terms of submitting proposals to potential venture capital companies.”

Having worked with Enterprise Ireland for two decades, Myriam 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.”

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