Business and Societal Benefits of Design Highlighted at NCAD’s Innovation Day

2nd annual event saw delegates from business, society & academia attend talks at the College

The 2nd Annual National College of Art and Design (NCAD) Innovation Day took place today and brought together leaders from business, society and academia to discuss how to drive business and social innovation with creative thinking and design.

Commenting today, Derek McGarry, Head of Innovation & Engagement said: “The value of Ireland’s creative industry is growing rapidly, and is making a significant contribution to the economy, and indeed the Government’s jobs agenda.

“We know that design provides a real opportunity for transformation in business and society, through the creation of new products and services that work towards building a sustainable future, addressing complex societal problems and adding value to people’s lives.”

With support from Knowledge Transfer Ireland (KTI) and NovaUCD, NCAD is now emerging as an internationally recognised Research Performing Organisation (RPO) in the technology transfer and commercialisation sector.  In 2014, the first two new company spin-outs from NCAD Origin8 accounted for an impressive 7% of the national RPO output, according to KTI’s annual report  launched last week.

“Throughout Irish Design 2015, the focus on growing new job opportunities within the Irish design sectors cannot be understated - investing in design and supporting young creatives and designers really does pay off”, McGarry continued, “The support of Enterprise Ireland has been hugely important for the development and growth of start-ups based here at our on campus innovation hub, Origin8, and it is critical that funding for design continues.”

Derek McGarry added: “From a business perspective, design creates value in terms of competitive advantage, customer engagement and corporate reputation. In a global economy, design thinking is providing the competitive differentiator critical for gaining market share.”

A number of high-profile industry leaders spoke over the course of the day, including:

  • Wayne Hemingway, co-founder of British design company Red or Dead.
  • Sean McNulty, MD of the creative design and innovation consultancy, Dolmen.
  • Dr Sarah Miller, CEO, Rediscovery Centre, a social enterprise dedicated to providing community employment and training via innovative reuse enterprises focused on new product design.

A series of keynote speeches, followed by a panel discussion moderated by Ali Grehan, City Architect, Dublin City Council, illustrated how creative thinking is being adopted to achieve innovation in a variety of for-profit and not-for-profit contexts, and how creative practice models can be applied to transform business and address real world issues.

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton, TD, attended NCAD’s Innovation Day today, delivering a closing address focused on the importance of the creative industry and the contribution it can make to the Irish economy.  

Speaking at NCAD’s Innovation Day, Minister Bruton said: “As we celebrate the year of Irish design, the Government is focused on supporting Irish business to produce high-quality design to boost the economy, increase our competitiveness and create more jobs. Institutions like NCAD play an important role in this, by enabling businesses to access design expertise and innovation, which will allow Irish business to develop better products and services supporting them to increase sales at home and overseas”.

This year’s event follows last year’s inaugural NCAD Innovation Day and launch of Origin8, NCAD’s industry gateway and innovation hub, officiated by An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, TD. Origin8 is NCAD’s centre for commercialisation and innovation, where campus spin-outs work to establish their business and design researchers collaborate with companies across a range of industries. 

At Origin8, NCAD staff help guide clients and design residents through the various options available for their research requirements.  Origin8 has attracted significant research funding to support a number of high potential start-up companies, and provides incubation space for start-ups in an innovative environment, with a focus on campus spin-out start-ups and related creative enterprises.  Start-ups currently working at Origin8 include:

  • Cara Mobility Products is the latest campus company start-up within Origin8. The company is led by NCAD Industrial design graduate John Horrigan, who has created an innovative assistive living device for wheelchair users.
  • Gazel is a contemporary homeware brand that lives by the motto, ‘Rethink the Everyday’.  It focuses on designing objects that inspire an inviting and thoughtful way of living, and is led by award-winning Irish designers and NCAD graduates, Ronan Murphy and Kevin Doherty. 
  • Obeo was founded by Kate Cronin, an industrial designer and NCAD graduate, and Liz Fingleton, an accountant.  The company has developed a clean, quick, compostable solution to food waste recycling.

Industrial Design 2015 graduates, Isabella Morehead and Dylan McKimm, recently won the “Universal Design Commercialisation Award” at the Universal Design Grand Challenge Awards which includes an Enterprise Ireland Commercial Case Feasibility Grant.  

Industry Collaborations
The industry collaborations underway at Origin8 were exhibited at today’s Innovation Day, highlighting the ongoing work with some of Ireland’s leading companies and research centres across a range of sectors, including:

  • Projects developed by 2nd- and 3rd-year students in collaboration with four design-led companies:  Perch, Drop, Gazel and Stayhold. The products typically designed by these companies range from tools, furniture and homewares to an organiser for the boot of your car.
  • CitySense: The study, conducted with PCH, Tyndall National Institute, TSSG Waterford, and Vodafone Ireland, used environmental sensor and GPS equipment to measure carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, smoke and particulates, and temperature levels around Dublin city. The results allowed researchers to map information critical to the everyday functioning of the city and its inhabitants such as environmental pollution, traffic congestion, urban planning and policy development.
  • NCAD Medical Device Design has been working with the Tyndall National Institute in Cork, one of Europe’s leading research centres in ICT, research and development, to imagine the future of healthcare, wearables and the Internet of Things.

Further information about Origin8 and NCAD’s work on innovation is available at:


Contact: Sarah Harte / Tony Heffernan, DHR Communications, Tel: 01-4200580 / 087-9858259 / 087-2399508