DCU’s Cleantech Innovation Campus will support 200 jobs in first 18 months says Ronan Furlong

by NATURAL CAPITAL

BoA at OBP (Medium)

Dublin City University (DCU) is launching a new national centre for innovation in the cleantech sector, one of the fastest growing areas of economic activity and worth more than €5 trillion globally.

The move comes after a recent study by chartered accountants EY found that Ireland could create 20,000 jobs and boost GDP by €4 billion by 2020 if we focussed on cleantech.

If we take advantage of our natural resources and focus on cleantech across our industrial base, we can create thousands of direct and indirect jobs in areas such as renewable energy generation and storage, energy efficiency retrofitting, smart water treatment and distribution, resource efficient waste systems, intelligent transport networks, green asset management and energy efficient data technologies.

My vision is to make DCU’s new Cleantech Innovation Campus the location of choice for start-ups, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and larger companies working in the cleantech sector and to support 200 jobs in its initial18 months.

The newly refurbished innovation campus, the first phase of which is ready to occupy, is ideally located, right beside DCU’s main campus, 10 minutes from Dublin Airport and 15 minutes from Dublin city centre – location, location, location as they say. Companies who set up there will have benefits aplenty including access to DCU’s cutting-edge teaching, research and development (R&D) in areas such as renewable energy, sustainability, green finance, Information and Communications Technology (ICT), big data and sensor technology – to name a few.

‘TWINNING’ WITH SAN JOSE

But the DCU Cleantech Innovation Campus is not simply ploughing its own furrow but rather seeks to advance the Government’s Green Economy Action Plan by introducing an all important international dimension.

And, to that end, we have just agreed a collaborative partnership with Prospect Silicon Valley (Prospect SV) in San Jose, a partnership publically revealed in November.

The Prospect SV facility is designed to demonstrate the next generation of cleantech innovation in Silicon Valley and so is a natural match for the DCU Cleantech Innovation Campus.

The many planned collaborative activities include access to office and innovation space, academic researchers, pre-procurement trials, test bedding opportunities and technology commercialisation programmes for clean-tech companies in both jurisdictions, with Prospect SV hosting Irish companies in the Valley and vice versa.

In reality, our Cleantech Innovation Campus is a mirror image of theirs and both institutions see a real opportunity for collaboration that could lead to trade opportunities for both Dublin and San Jose companies and help solve environmental and resource efficiency problems for each municipality on the way.

Dublin has already made a name for itself by attracting leading Silicon Valley companies such as Google, Intel and IBM. However, the potential link with Prospect SV could be particularly significant as Silicon Valley transitions away from semiconductor and consumer web type activities towards sustainable, low carbon, ‘industrial internet’ type technologies.

TESTBED FOR SUSTAINABLE TECHNOLOGIES

The DCU Cleantech Innovation Campus will serve as a ‘living laboratory’ for future test-bedding and commercialisation activities. The prospective tenants and partners that we are talking to are largely operating in environmental sectors such as water (FLI Environmental, Veolia Water Ireland), energy (Dalkia, Vayu) and ICT (Shimmer, Intel), with specialisms ranging from wastewater treatment to Combined Heat and Power (CHP) and from smart grids to sensor technologies.

The Cleantech Innovation Campus will provide opportunities for companies to research, develop, deploy, test, commercialise and showcase their innovative products or services in partnership with the university. We are committed to supporting entrepreneurs to develop emerging technologies that will become the driving industries of the future, and we anticipate that such innovations will, in time, be central to achieving the wider DCU sustainability strategy, while also having the potential to reduce operating costs, provide environmental benefits, and improve DCU service delivery.

PRACTISING WHAT WE PREACH

But time does not stand still and we are also in the process of preparing a longer term sustainability strategy for the innovation campus buildings, looking at deep energy efficiency retrofits and on-site renewables.

In the short term, we will also be looking at some early, smaller scale interventions such as lighting, solar energy, bicycles, rainwater harvesting, recycling and biodiversity.

With this in mind, we are about to publish a call for proposals from cleantech companies who can provide solutions for the innovation campus across waste, water, data, energy efficiency, on site renewables, intelligent transport and other categories as part of a ‘cleantech demonstration partnership policy’ being developed in consultation with the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, Enterprise Ireland and other stakeholders.