Taoiseach Launches New Innovation Centre at NCAD

A new on-campus centre for commercialisation and innovation was launched by the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny TD, at the National College of Art and Design (NCAD) today.

The centre – Origin8 – will spearhead NCAD’s collaborative projects with a range of industry partners and will house campus spin-out companies working to establish their business.

Two campus spin-outs – contemporary homeware brand Gazel; and Obeo, which focuses on food waste recycling – are already operating from Origin8, with two further start-ups expected to join the centre in the coming months.  50 collaborations with industry partners are also underway at Origin8. 

Commenting today, Professor Declan McGonagle, Director of NCAD, said the aim of Origin8 was to bring together top-quality designers, researchers and industry partners in an environment that fosters innovation and knowledge-sharing.

“The Government has a strong focus on ‘knowledge transfer’ between industry and academia, and recognises how partnerships can benefit both sectors, and the economy overall,” he said.  “The work underway at Origin8 is very much in keeping with this agenda: it aims to ensure that industry partners can access the very best and latest in design research so their products and services are enhanced.  At the same time, it allows on-campus designers and researchers to benefit from the expertise of our industry partners, which they have built up over years of successfully conducting their business. 

“Over the past two years, NCAD has collaborated with industry on almost 100 design-focused projects.  Origin8 provides a one-stop-shop for our work on these initiatives.  It also provides a home for the type of exciting design start-ups that have been emerging from NCAD in recent years.  Now, when our students and graduates decide to open their own business, they will have the chance to do so from the Origin8 centre, where they can benefit from on-campus supports and exposure to a range of other practising designers and potential industry partners.”

The industry collaborations currently underway at Origin8 involve some of Ireland’s leading companies across a range of sectors, including:

  • The healthcare production company Hollister, which collaborates with Medical Device Design researchers at NCAD to enhance the design of its products, particularly in relation to incontinence care products and intermittent catheters. 
  • The professional services firm PwC, which has worked with Visual Communications students at NCAD for the past two years to develop its annual calendar, one of its key international marketing tools.
  • Newbridge Silverware, which is involved in a knowledge transfer partnership with NCAD’s Jewellery and Metalwork Department since 2005, focused on product development and prototyping.
  • The leading Irish flooring and bathroom company, TileStyle, which has worked with Ceramics students on a knowledge transfer partnership with NCAD

“Our aim at NCAD is to be outward-facing,” said Professor McGonagle.  “We want to expose our students and our researchers to real-world environments and give them the opportunity to collaborate with leading industry players in developing market-ready products and services.  This is essential in ensuring that – when they leave NCAD – they are highly-skilled, work-ready and have skills that are transferable from sector to sector.

“At the same time, we want to stress to industry the importance of design and design skills.  International research has proven that investment in design pays dividends for industry.  By encouraging Irish companies to come forward and collaborate with our designers and researchers at Origin8, we are hoping to instil in them a better understanding of the value of design and of how it can enhance their business.”

At today’s launch, the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny TD, said: “The Government's plan for Ireland's recovery is all about jobs.  Irish people are famous the world over for our creativity, imagination and inventiveness and the work underway at Origin8 shows how these characteristics can bring success in research, innovation and business. 

“The centre brings together the best of business and academia by uniting highly-skilled designers and researchers with industry partners while also supporting start-up companies.  This is very much in keeping with the Government's Knowledge Transfer Ireland initiative which is all about turning good ideas into good jobs by linking business to State-funded research to maximise the benefit for the economy and the public.” 

Today’s launch of Origin8 at NCAD took place in the context of a wider Innovation Day, which saw 100 delegates attend talks at the College on the value of Ireland’s creative industry and the contribution it can make to the Government’s jobs agenda.  A number of high-profile NCAD alumni who have achieved success at a global level spoke over the course of the day, including:

  • Lorna Ross, Director of Design at the US-based Mayo Clinic, one of the world’s leading medical institutions, which recently announced a collaboration with Enterprise Ireland worth US$16 million.
  • Paul Adams, Head of Product Design at Intercom, the high-potential Irish start-up that has attracted €22 million in investment and aims to become a billion-dollar company. 

Further information about Origin8 and NCAD’s work on commercialisation and innovation is available at: www.ncad.ie/origin8.