“As a hub for the fields of information and communication technology,” Prof Nolan said at the opening, “Eolas will break down the boundaries that too often exist between academia and enterprise—and between students and the world of work.”
Eolas houses two of the University’s world-renowned research institutes, the Hamilton Institute and the Innovation Value Institute (IVI); the Maynooth University Departments of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering; MaynoothWorks, the University’s new business incubator; and the University’s own IT Services. The Maynooth University Hamilton Institute has an international reputation for cutting-edge research in ICT, using advance mathematics to solve difficult computing and communications and network problems. The Innovation Value Institute, a joint endeavour with Intel Corp., is a globally unique consortium of researchers and practitioners that examines how enterprises can maximise the business value of ICT.
The building is the latest in a series of campus development projects at Maynooth University, and Prof Nolan called Eolas “the kind of smart development that will only continue to elevate the quality and impact of the research and teaching at Maynooth.”
“Whether it’s inspiring students who pass by conversations about the latest start-up on their way to class, or it’s a new company setting up shop near the students it hopes will one day fill their skills gap, Eolas is about facilitating connections and driving ICT innovation. This kind of magic only happens when people come together. From its functionality and design to the quality of the work going on under its roof, Eolas is becoming a natural hub not only for the University’s ICT academics and industry partners, but for the very robust ICT community within this region,” Prof Nolan said.
Eolas houses the full spectrum of the knowledge transfer experience—from undergraduate and postgraduate teaching through to research (both fundamental and applied), from commercialisation on to spin-out and spin-in companies and partnerships with multinationals. Maynooth University’s reputation for world-class research is particularly strong and it is the top rated among all Irish universities for the percentage of publications in the elite 1% most cited academic journals.
The launch of MaynoothWorks reflects the strong role the University’s Commercialisation Office plays as an engine of economic growth in Dublin and the Midlands region. Three recent Maynooth University spin-outs alone have raised more than €20 million in investment and created 50 jobs. MaynoothWorks already has five client companies, including Verifly, the latest venture from Hailo co-founder Jay Bregman which provides web and mobile applications for recreational drone users; Accuplex Diagnostics, an early stage diagnostics company which is already selling product internationally aimed at treating both human and equine conditions; and Avectas, which develops technology in pursuit of in-vivo diagnostic and therapeutic applications with a current focus on oncology.
Minister Richard Bruton said: “Innovation and entrepreneurship have been at the heart of our Action Plan for Jobs, and we have put in place a range of measures to support additional start-up activity right across the country. Two key aspects of this are extra co-working and incubation spaces for entrepreneurs, and measures to derive more commercial outcomes from the excellent research happening in our universities. The opening of MaynoothWorks and the Eolas building in Maynooth University will make a major contribution to this, and I am delighted to warmly welcome today’s developments. Infrastructure like this will make a major contribution to supporting jobs growth in the mid east region, and I wish Philip and his team every success.”
Hailo co-founder Jay Bregman chose to locate his latest company, Verifly, in MaynoothWorks “because of Maynooth University’s long tradition of research excellence, innovation in data and geographic information systems, which are foundational to our vision of making drones safe and well-mannered.”
MaynoothWorks client company Videobot allows brands and businesses to deploy tailor made videos across devices. Its CEO, Frédéric Herrera, said the company specifically chose Maynooth because of what Eolas could offer. “Videobot is expanding rapidly and we need to build a highly skilled team with knowledge across different areas—from computer science, software engineering and digital media to international business, law and languages. Being located here at Maynooth University is ideal for us because we know we have access to top quality graduates across all of these fields,” he said.
Avectas was co-founded by Maynooth University Senior Lecturer Dr. Shirley O’Dea, who said continuing to locate at MaynoothWorks was a ‘no-brainer’ for the company. “We also have offices in Dublin and in Cambridge, Massachusetts, but the culture here at Maynooth is so well disposed for start-ups that it makes a brilliant base. We made our journey from scratch through Maynooth, using SFI and Enterprise Ireland funding in the early stages, towards private funding sources which include a key collaborator Adapt Pharma. We gain from the superb research ongoing here at Maynooth as well as being able to draw from, and give back to, the student and research talent pool,” she added.
The iconic Eolas building is located in Maynooth University’s North Campus and supported more than 300 jobs during its two years of construction. It is clad in bespoke perforated metal filigree inspired by the design of ‘punch cards.’ The building can accommodate 575 staff with teaching facilities for 350 students in labs and classrooms at any one time. In addition, it has the capacity to facilitate 325 people in the various sized meeting and seminar rooms that are strategically placed throughout the building, together with informal breakout spaces designed to support collaboration between the institutes and departments based in Eolas.
Eolas features state-of-the-art IT facilities, including a highly-available 10 Gbps internet connection, 3,000 network points and WiFi capacity for more than 1,000 simultaneous users. Its modern lay-out is designed to facilitate interaction and spur new research and commercialisation activities, with 14 ‘hot desks,’ 2 bio wet labs, high-tech conference rooms and classrooms, laboratories and informal conversation spaces.
Also speaking at the launch was Professor Martin Curley, Vice President of Intel Labs and Co-founder of the Innovation Value Institute at Maynooth University, housed in the Eolas building. He said industry would clearly benefit from the approach to third level that Maynooth University was taking. “The relationship between academia and industry is mutually interdependent and beneficial. Maynooth University exemplifies the concept of the entrepreneurial University and the seed capital that Maynooth invested enabled IVI raise more than €6million through industry membership and research contract funding. It is a great example of an industry-business collaboration succeeding internationally and is really what Eolas is all about.”
MaynoothWorks received €1.6 million in funding from Enterprise Ireland. Enterprise Ireland’s Research & Innovation Manager Gearoid Mooney said co-locating academia and industry is a proven recipe for success. “The sparks of creativity that come about when entrepreneurs have ready access to research talent and potential employees have been seen the world over. Enterprise Ireland is committed to developing campus-based incubation centres and MaynoothWorks has all the elements necessary to make a real impact,” he said.