Tangent Programme of Events

Regent House, Trinity College

27th September 2018

Good evening,

And welcome everyone to the Regent House. Today we launch Tangent’s programme of events for this academic year. Tangent, Trinity’s Ideas Workspace, is an exciting new initiative for the college, supported by the Bank of Ireland, that will provide:

  • cutting-edge innovation and entrepreneurship education;
  • start-up company acceleration programmes;
  • innovation and entrepreneurship community events; and
  • supports for fledgling to mature entrepreneurs all across Ireland and beyond.

Tangent brings together all Trinity’s existing programmes and initiatives including LaunchBox, Blackstone LaunchPad, the EIT Knowledge Innovation Communities, the Innovation Academy, and the Women who Wow mentorship programme, and it initiates new ventures such as Trinity Pioneers.

Diarmuid, speaking after me, will tell you more about Tangent and the calendar of events for this academic year. I’d like to say a few words about innovation and entrepreneurship across the university.

I think for most of you, I don’t need to elaborate on Trinity’s success in innovation and entrepreneurship. You know that we generate a fifth of all Irish spin-out companies and that we are first in Europe for educating entrepreneurs.

To put it in figures:

  • our graduates have generated 180 companies over the past ten years, raising $2,166 million dollars; and
  • Trinity campus companies have created €1.3Bn in exports, raised €600M in venture funding, and enabled 3,500 jobs over the past two decades.

This success didn’t just happen. It’s the result of having put in place proactive and visionary initiatives to release the entrepreneurial potential of staff and students, facilitate tech transfer. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all involved in this.

There are too many to name individually – going back to the days of the Technology Transfer Office, through LaunchBox, up to Tangent and our long partnership with Bank of Ireland, so many brilliant people from within and outside the university have created the right environment for campus innovation and entrepreneurship.

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Our success with innovation and entrepreneurship is of course inextricable from our success in research.

Last year Trinity won €100.6 million euro in research funding. Four years ago, that figure was €74 million – and even then it was by far the highest of any Irish university.

In terms of winning ERC grants per academic staff, Trinity is fourth among LERU members – just behind Cambridge, Oxford and Imperial College London.

This bedrock of success in research comes out of, and feeds back into, exceptional education, and it inspires exceptional innovation.

As I wrote in an Op Ed which appeared in the Irish Times three days ago , it’s vital that we create a balanced research environment that includes fundamental and applied research. It’s up to universities to do the fundamental research that leads to ground-breaking discoveries; this is part of our relevance to industry. In Trinity we seek to do the research that is good for the economy and the research that surprises, discoveries that amaze and inspire us, that’s what universities are about.

It’s their awareness of being part of a great enterprise of discovery that inspires our undergraduates to incubate and act on their ideas. If our graduates are the most entrepreneurial in Europe, it’s because they are coming out of culture where discovery counts, where research and ideas have proven impact.

There is a long tradition of this. In previous generations we didn’t talk about innovation, and of course the opportunities to commercialise research, which we have now, didn’t exist.

But I was thinking recently about Mary Robinson’s and David Norris’s extraordinary activism in the 1970s for women, gay and minority rights. That was what we might now call social entrepreneurship. Mary, David and their fellow activists are, I think, the forebearers of the student social enterprises that we are so proud of: FoodCloud, Fumi, Greener Globe, and Change Directions to name just a few incubated through LaunchBox.

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We are proud of the college’s tradition of research, scholarship and activism that is the bedrock of innovation. And we are proud and excited that through Tangent we will be able to scale up all our activities.

Tangent will be co-located with the new Trinity Business School which will open next year on Pearse Street. The new space is being specifically designed to foster creativity, with flexible workspaces and event space enabling co-working. Tangent will provide an interface between Trinity and the bustling innovation ecosystem on our doorstep, with a view to establishing Ireland as a thriving and mature start-up ecosystem.  I hope to see you all at the official opening next May.

Thank you.

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