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Friday, 27 June, 2014

VITAL is a €2.5m pioneering project designed to connect ideas with people and companies who can make things happen . . .

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How Technology Transfer can benefit your business

The VITAL project has now identified over 150 innovative ideas some of which have been evaluated and substantiated with a business case. The VITAL project managers are now seeking to identify Northern Ireland (outside Greater Belfast) and Border-based business owners and track record entrepreneurs who are interested in being matched up with these new product / technology opportunities.

“Leveraging the discoveries, technologies and intellectual property of others can give companies a distinct competitive advantage and can shorten the time to market” says VITAL Project Director Kieran Fegan. “This can save time and money on R&D and can be undertaken in conjunction with in house R&D activities”

Kieran goes on to summarise the benefits of technology transfer and licensing. “Licensing enables companies to acquire or put conditions in place to commercialise new products and processes without going through the expensive and risk of research & development. The most common forms of Technology Transfer are licensing, joint ventures and technical cooperation agreements. Technology Transfer allows companies to expand the product portfolio or to enhance the functionality of an existing product.

The Benefits of Technology Transfer are as follows: -

  • A large amount of technology has been developed internationally and there is a wide choice available 
  • Faster return on Investment
  • Already developed or at an advanced stage of development – perhaps proven in other markets
  • Shorter time to market
  • Lower cost
  • Technical assistance
  • Accessing and gaining new skills
  • Possibilities of sharing costs and risks
  • Access to innovation and potentially new markets
  • Technology licensing can enable a firm to enter a foreign market quickly
  • Reduced legal and financial risk
  • Overcomes barriers experienced via exporting

VITAL is screening and evaluating the innovative ideas it has identified to date and has worked up a number of strong business cases. The project is now focused on the matching and licensing process where it can assist on key licensing provisions such as Technology / IP, territories, payment, further improvement, exclusivity, duration and legal considerations.

Once the license conditions have been agreed, the project can provide assistance with implementation advancement, fast tracking where appropriate, the route to market through one-to-one mentoring, consultancy, access to market knowledge and priming funding if required.

Kieran concludes, “We are encouraging businesses and entrepreneurs looking for new opportunities to get involved. VITAL can enable new and profitable partnerships through a new kind of technology transfer that will allow them to short circuit their time to market, reduce development costs and extend their market reach."

Anyone wishing to express an interest in the VITAL project can do so through the website or my contacting a member of the team directly.

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Irish Times Article - Turn your bright business dream into a Vital one

Tuesday, 6 May, 2014


A new project funded by the European Union is matching good ideas with those who can make them real. Are you one of those people secretly nursing a brilliant business idea or invention that you have never been able to do anything about? If so, here is your chance: an initiative called “Vital” aims to match great business ideas with the people who can turn them into a reality. Funded by the European Union, the €2.56 million project is managed jointly by Dundalk Institute of Technology, Dublin City University and Queen’s University, Belfast. What makes this project different is that what Vital wants to do is give these good ideas the best chance of commercial success. In essence, the people operating Vital believe the best way to do this is to give them to someone else.

Kieran Fegan, director of Vital, says what is important is that the “idea owner” benefits from any kind of market success their idea achieves.

“We’re looking at lots of new business ideas, new inventions and a range of new technologies from numerous sources,” says Fegan. “We carefully screen them and once these ideas are validated by us, once we believe there is an idea that can be fast tracked to market, we connect the idea generator with an implementer – either someone who is a seasoned entrepreneur or a well-established company.” Everyone wins, he believes, because the person with the business idea or product concept is protected from the outset via, for example, licensing/technology transfer agreements or an upfront sale of their idea to their ideal match. On the other side of the coin, the entrepreneur or established company selected as the match partner gets the chance to exploit potentially innovative technologies or products that could help grow their business. The Vital project has one key objective at its core – to booster the Border economy. While anyone can get involved, the project is specifically designed to create a “positive economic impact” in Northern Ireland and Cavan, Monaghan, Donegal, Leitrim, Louth and Sligo. Anyone who signs up to Vital, particularly an entrepreneur or business, must be prepared to take this to heart – but it does give local businesses and entrepreneurs based in the region a head start.

Fegan says Vital has already “banked” about 170 ideas and technologies. The evaluation process has identified 25 strong business cases and it is in the “advanced stages” of introducing idea generators to their prospective suitors. The ideas include a prototype for a refrigeration unit, an innovative design for bike pedals, a marine safety product, a pioneering approach to oil-spill cleanup and a ground breaking hi-tech autonomous surveillance platform.

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Register now for VITAL Evening Information Sessions in Drogheda, Monaghan, Cookstown, Craigavon & Newry coming up over the next few weeks

Border County based businesses, seasoned entrepreneurs and people with new ideas are being targeted by a €2.56 Million cross-border economic growth initiative, VITAL.

VITAL Project Managers will be visiting Drogheda, Monaghan and Newry on the evenings of Monday March 24th, Tuesday March 25th and Tuesday April 8th respectively as part of its mission to identify interested businesses and serial entrepreneurs and to identify individuals with new and innovative ideas. There is a further two sessions in Cookstown and Craigavon on March 31st and April 1st respectively.

Kieran Fegan, Director of VITAL, which is funded by INTERREG IVA Programme, based in the Dundalk Institute of Technology says the team are continuing with its winter tour of workshops within the cross border region.

“VITAL is identifying and evaluating a pool of ideas and presenting these to seasoned entrepreneurs and experienced managers who have the skills and knowledge to bring those ideas onto a commercial platform through their existing businesses or through new business start-ups.”

“We are appealing to those who have business ideas and those in business and entrepreneurs who are looking for new market validated products and technologies to join us for the evening workshops as highlighted. A reminder of these again:

Monday 24th March

Boyne Valley Hotel DROGHEDA, 6pm-8pm

Refreshments served 6pm-6.30pm


Tuesday 25th March

Four Seasons Hotel, MONAGHAN, 6pm-8pm

Refreshments served 6pm-6.30pm


Monday 31st March

Glenavon Hotel COOKSTOWN, 6pm-8pm

Refreshments served 6pm-6.30pm


Tuesday 1st April

Seagoe Hotel , CRAIGAVON, 6pm-8pm

Refreshments served 6pm-6.30pm


Tuesday 8th April

Canal Court Hotel, NEWRY, 6pm-8pm

Refreshments served 6pm-6.30pm


Cavan based Insulation Manufacturer Ballytherm is benefiting from participation on the VITAL project.

“I would recommend licensing in new VITAL ideas and technologies to all forward thinking individuals and companies as a potential mechanism for growth,” says Brendan Cosgrove, Director, Ballytherm Ltd

The project is a partnership between Dundalk Institute of Technology, Queen’s University Belfast and Dublin City University. It is operating across Northern Ireland outside of greater Belfast and all six of the border counties in Ireland from Donegal to Louth.

To register for one of these events please go to

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Belfast Telegraph Article: Vital initiative aims to produce commercial successes

Wednesday, 19 March, 2014


Engineering, technology, new media, agri-food and IT experts are invited to help 140 good ideas become commercial successes. In just six months, the £2.56m Vital initiative has built a database of proposed innovations, which are currently being assessed.

The Vital project – a partnership between Dundalk Institute of Technology, Queen's UniversityBelfast and Dublin City University – operates across Northern Irelandoutside greater Belfast and in the Republic's six border counties. It will provide assistance with fast-tracking the product idea or technology to market by matching the idea with another experienced business or entrepreneur. Vital is now bringing a series of workshops to Drogheda, Monaghan, Newry and Portadown. The workshops are designed to share information with local businesses and explain how entrepreneurs can access the ideas bank and progress development.

Vital director Kieran Fegan said it has created a pool of evaluated ideas and technologies and is actively seeking firms and entrepreneurs in the border areas who might be in a position to bring them to market. "We are encouraging business people from mainly engineering, technology, new media, agri-food and IT backgrounds to join us at the workshop and find out more about how we can help match them to good ideas," he said. "Vital is also interested in hearing from those with good ideas who might want to submit their idea to the project for evaluation and match consideration. "Vital offers a very viable progression route for those with a good idea who don't believe they are best placed to take it to market."

Sinead Cahill from Queen's University in Belfast said: "This is an entirely new approach to pump-priming the Northern Ireland and border county economy and we are appealing to SMEs, seasoned entrepreneurs and individuals with a successful track record who might be looking for new ideas to get involved. "Availing of this project opportunity is a way for local SMEs and entrepreneurs to get their hands on great new ideas and generate profits."

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Project Launch Overview of VITAL

Project Director Kieran Fagan overviews the VITAL project at our launch at Narrow Water Castle.  He discusses the VITAL approach, additionality, benefits or participation, the matchmaking process and what the project will achieve. Click on read more to watch the video.

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VITAL Project Launch

Tuesday, 22 October, 2013

The VITAL project was launched at Narrow Water Castle on the shores of Carlingford Lough on October 22. The event featured a range of presentations overviewing the programme and discussing a range of relevant topics.

Kieran Fegan, Director of the VITAL project based in the Regional Development Centre, says; “VITAL has the potential to act as a catalyst for economic growth in the border region which has struggled partly due to geographic isolation and remoteness”

“It is an entirely new approach to pump-priming the border and rural economies of both jurisdictions,” says Mr Fegan.

“We will identify and evaluate a pool of ideas from many sources which are currently being researched and harvested and we will then identify SMEs, seasoned entrepreneurs and experienced managers with the skills and knowledge to bring those ideas onto a commercial platform through their existing businesses or their new business starts,” he continued. We want to hear from individuals from throughout the region and beyond who believe they have good ideas and who don’t have the time, expertise, knowledge and networks to make them happen.

The VITAL initiative will match these ideas to SMEs and seasoned entrepreneurs and then provide assistance with fast tracking where appropriate, the route to market through one-to-one mentoring, consultancy, access to market knowledge and priming funding if required.

Welcoming the project Lorraine McCourt, Director with the Special EU Programmes Body, said; “This is a truly innovative cross-border project which bridges the gap from that great business idea to its practical implementation. It will provide a holistic suite of business support interventions and tailored training opportunities that will enhance the competitiveness of all participating companies”.

The project offers access to technology transfer and licencing opportunities and Dundalk Institute of Technology is partnering with Dublin City University and Queen’s University of Belfast whose access to intellectual property provides a valuable additional resource to the service.

“The VITAL project makes available the intellectual property (IP) of inventors to grow the SME base and it also makes available existing IP held by the three educational establishments which has the potential to gives talented technology entrepreneurs access to new evaluated opportunities” says Mr Fegan. “We are looking for seasoned entrepreneurs who are looking for new opportunities to get in touch with us. We are also calling on SME owner managers to get involved”

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VITAL - Scouting for new products and technologies

VITAL Technology Scouting Initiative wants to hear from SMEs based in Northern Ireland (outside of the greater Belfast region) and the six border counties of Cavan, Donegal, Leitrim, Louth, Monaghan, & Sligo that need a new product or a new innovative technology which will have the potential to grow their business.

VITAL is a pioneering new €2.56 million cross-border collaboration between Queen’s University Belfast, Dundalk Institute of Technology and Dublin City University, designed to connect SMEs with innovative ideas.

VITAL is funded by the European Union’s INTERREG IVA programme and the relevant departments of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

VITAL Project Manager Sinead Cahill, from Queen’s University’s Research and Enterprise Directorate, said: “Queen’s University is delighted to be involved in this very exciting new initiative. VITAL recognises that not all SMEs qualify for state supported R&D schemes and acknowledges that time constraints within SMEs can often result in product development or new market exploitation being neglected. It is with this in mind that the VITAL technology scouting initiative was designed.

“VITAL has the potential to make a real difference to SMEs that have found it difficult to come up with new product concepts and technology offerings for various reasons. The VITAL technology scouting initiative will work with a small number of SMEs to evaluate their technology need. It will identify and source a solution which will have the potential to achieve top line growth and then provide assistance to fast track to market.”

VITAL Project Director Kieran Fegan says “VITAL will utilise an extensive network of innovation sources to identify the best solution for participating SMEs. It will also provide expertise to guide SMEs through the process of licensing or acquiring the new technology or product and taking it to market.”

Kieran continues “There is no charge for participating in the VITAL technology scouting initiative; however if successful, there is a requirement to commit fully to the project in terms of resources, effort and time.”

More information on this unique project can be viewed by going to www.vitalforideas/techscouting Sinead Cahill can be contacted at Queen’s University Belfast on email [email protected] and on mobile . Similarly Kieran Fegan can be contacted at Dundalk Institute of Technology on email [email protected] and mobile .


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Dundalk Institute of Technology


Invent DCU

Queens Univeristy Belfast


This project has been supported by the European Union’s INTERREG IVA Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body