Century of Endeavour

Ch6: Epilogue

(c) Roy Johnston 1999

(comments to rjtechne@iol.ie)

This was written in 1984 for the projected Tycooley publication of 'In Search of Techne'

The following constitutes an attempt to place on record, in a preliminary and incomplete fashion, some to the practical attempts made by the writer to act upon the basis of the ideas developed in the foregoing essays. The action covers the period 1970 to 1983, and involves a narrowing of the focus of the 'search for techne' to a set of possible working models appropriate to a small developing country.

I should say that I am indebted to Professor W B Stanford, who is currently Chancellor of the University of Dublin and a noted classical scholar, for some reassurance that my use of the Greek word 'Techne' in this context makes sense. By 'Techne' I mean the principle whereby scientific knowledge is transformed into social utility; this is distinct from 'technology' which is the understanding of the workings of the artefacts involved in the production of utility. I have tried at all times to keep the emphasis on the process of transformation if science into technology, or more exactly, since the process is two-way, the 'science-technology interface', if the reader will forgive the jargon. For this I prefer the word Techne.

The following consists of three sections: first some extracts from the 'third report of the TCD Industrial Liaison Office' which the writer produced in July 1974 after the initial round of internal marketing of the 'applied research unit' concept within TCD. Then there is an account of the applied research experience to date delivered in September 1981 simultaneously at two conferences by the writer and Dr Paul Dowding. Then finally there is an outline proposal for a new concept, which represents the current 'search-strategy'. No doubt the search will go on.

July 1974(1)

....The basic idea which emerged in consensus was that an 'Applied Research Unit' (ARU), if it were to exist as a visible entity, able to interact with an external client organisation, would usefully supplement the academic interests of a Department.

An ARU should be structured in such a way as to 'look towards a particular problem area' (eg urban planning, the environment, food, energy or whatever); it should be able autonomously to contract with the source of finance, covering its total costs. It should act as a contract R and D supplier, with the special feature (distinguishing it from the IIRS) that it is prepared to link its work with a postgraduate programme such as to produce people familiar with the technology of the problem area, and available for employment in it.

An ARU should employ its own staff, who would give priority to outside contacts, but who would also play an important support-role in the postgraduate programmes, supplementing departmental supervision. ARU staff would have 'research associate' status in the academic system.

Academic staff members could opt into association with an ARU, with the permission of their departmental head. They would have the right to earn 'responsibility money' on sub-contract work for the ARU, or in the provision of project management services; this would act as a structured alternative to individual staff consultancy.....

***

The following is an abstracted case-study which illustrates the negative effect of the current procedures and regulations.

As a result of personal contact, a staff member obtained an option on a training contract whereby a member of a client firm's staff would be trained in a (to them novel) instrumentation technology(2) in a College department. This involved setting up a test rig (implying some technician time) and providing for some supervision by academic staff. The technology was not available in the IIRS.

The project was costed at IIRS norms, loaded somewhat on grounds of uniqueness. A small fee was included for the staff member. The Industrial Liaison Officer was present when the contract was discussed; the firm accepted without question.

The ILO drafted a letter of confirmation, which according to regulation had to be countersigned by the College Financial Controller. Owing to pressures on the latter from other quarters, this took a month, during which it was necessary to keep the contract warm by personal contacts.

When finally he got around to looking at it, the Financial Controller decided that it was 'service work', and all money other than the fee to the staff member went into the general College funds. Thus the Department got no direct reward for being enterprising enough to have a unique service for which an expanding industrial demand might credibly be predicted, leading to increased normal academic funding. The expansion of this service is therefore unlikely to take place ...... as the Department has no incentive to develop it. Should demand increase, it will therefore have to be satisfied with imported specialist services, as there is no way in which an academic department, thus constrained, could contribute to the development of a local-based service-centre, in the IIRS or elsewhere.

Thus the new contract-regulations will need to allow for (a) rapid response by the contractor to the client (b) reward for departmental enterprise.....

***

...Arising from an initiative of the Marine Resources Committee of the National Science Council, the ILO arranged interviews with Professor Murphy of the Dublin Institute of Advanced Studies(3), Dr Williams of the Geological Survey Office, various College departmental heads and others. A draft document was produced, circulated and amended proposing that an Applied Geophysics Unit be set up in TCD, the Head having professional and academic status, with a view to acting as consultant geophysicist to the GSO (a) to develop a postgraduate training scheme appropriate to the needs of the GSO (b) to initiate a programme of scanning the seismic survey records for independent indications of hydrocarbon-bearing formations.....

The postgraduate programme would involve training geophysicists in relevant modern survey techniques (including aerial magnetic surveys) so as to ensure an adequate supply of native trained personnel into the rapidly expanding natural resources field(4).

September 1981(5)

In this contribution we give an outline of the historical background of the development in the University of Dublin (Trinity College) of a structured approach to university/industry liaison, followed by a survey of the current position, which we regard as transitional rather than definitive. Finally, in the light of experience to date, we recommend an improved arrangement and suggest how it might be financed.

In the course of the historical outline, we give briefly some case-studies to illustrate how the industrial applied R and D service can interact creatively with the university basic research programme.

The historical outline falls into four parts:

1. 1971-73: a full-time Industrial Liaison Officer supported by the National Science Council, under a scheme modelled on UK practice in the 60s..

2. 1973-76: a part-time ILO who also worked as a private consultant.

3. October 76-December 80: a full-time ILO who acted as Manager of an Applied Research Consultancy Group, with full-time junior consultants loosely attached to Departments having active applied-research interests.

4. From January 81: a full-time ILO acting as contact-point and marketing support for a group of departmentally-managed Applied Research Units.

This varied history illustrates several of the models on display in the 'UDIL Blue Book'(6)... There are almost as many models as there are universities; these range from Loughborough, which has a tightly-managed limited company with a turnover measured in millions of pounds, to Southampton which has nine independent units without any central contact-point.

It is useful to dwell on the features of each of the four periods, and on the backgrounds to the transitions from each to the next. There is a consistent thread, which can perhaps be defined in terms of a search for a means of developing continuity of experience and a 'track-record', amd to get away from the academic tradition of employing 'research assistants' as low-grade casual labour, dependent on 'stop-go' funding..

The first period was characterised by a search for firms in Ireland considered to be in need of engineering and/or scientific service. This was associated with an appreciable amount of additional staff consultancy in departments other than engineering, and led to some applied-scientific project-work, some to postgraduate standard, in the Science Faculty, particularly in the departments of biochemistry, botany, chemistry, physics and zoology. However the numbers of academic staff concerned were small, and mostly had already got well-established industrial contacts, so that it is difficult to assess how effective the ILO was in promoting the process.

In fact, it became evident that in some cases there was conflict of interest between actual and aspirant academic consultants; there were too many competitors in too small a market; the size of the market was determined by industry's expectation of what could be supplied by academics working in marginal time at marginal cost.

The way forward therefore lay in the expansion of the market; this became possible when the NSC initiated the University/Industry Scheme, which enabled academics to take on substantial industry-orientated projects at relatively low cost to industry. However in 1973 the fruits of this were not yet in evidence; the first TCD ILO saw better opportunities for his career elsewhere and resigned.

The ILO post would have lapsed in 1973, had not one of the authors (RJ) intervened. He had been working since 1970 in association with the Statistics Department on a personal consultancy basis, providing an operations-research service to industry, and supervising some MSc projects which it proved possible to set up relevantly in the background. Some experience of the interface between industrial consultancy and the academic postgraduate system had been gained. The conclusion was that while it was necessary to have a full-time consultant to deliver to the industrial deadline, students could be useful assistants, and the quasi-apprenticeship relationship constituted good training. Could this experience be generalised into other departments where the research results had applications potential?

With this in mind, the College was persuaded by RJ to keep the Industrial Liaison Office open, and to take him on part-time, with a view to developing the applied-research potential of any departments interested.

This initiated the second period, which consisted primarily of an internal marketing operation, around the concept of the problem-oriented, interdisciplinary Applied Research Unit, having a full-time consultancy staff backed by a panel of academic specialists.

In a series of meetings, a range of appropriate conceptual problem-oriented units was identified, each having specialist support from two or more departments:

     UNIT                          SUPPORTING DEPARTMENTS

     Industrial Instrumentation    Engineering, Physics, Chemistry

     Materials                     ditto

     Ergonomics                    Engineering, Physiology, Psychology 

     Natural Products/Food         Biochemistry, Botany, Chemistry, 
                                   Engineering, Genetics, Microbiology,
                                   Pharmacology

     Environment                   Botany, Engineering, Geography, Geology,
                                   Microbiology, Zoology

     Geotechnology                 Engineering, Geology, Physics

     Energy                        Emgineering, Physics(7)

     Urban Planning                Social Studies, Geography, Economics

     Technoeconomics               Engineering, Business Studies

In all of the above it was understood that there would be significant input from Applied Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science.

This was all very well in theory, but how could the structure be set up? Who would inject the initial capital? There was needed something analogous to the Wolfson Unit in the UK; this was available neither through the NSC nor through the academic financing system.

The NSC University/Industry Scheme had, however, enabled a few embryonic units to begin to achieve credibility in the marketplace, principally in the field of industrial instrumentation linked to on-line computing. The rapidly declining cost of mini- and micro-computers was beginning to open up interesting possibilities. In 1976 the Industrial Development Authority, in its search for high-technology industry abroad, suddenly became aware that the Irish third-level system existed, was in close touch with the frontiers of knowledge, and therefore constituted a resource.

(Hitherto it had been assumed that all technological knowhow was foreign, and had to be enticed in with the multinationals. A significant event was a dinner in TCD in honour of the Director of Bell Telephone Laboratories, who had just been awarded an honorary degree. Some IDA people were present and picked up the background history, which involved a TCD physicist(8) working in Bell Labs during vacations and on sabbatical leave. This, to IDA, was somewhat on an eye-opener.)

These factors combined to make it possible for the IDA in 1976 to agree to support a financially autonomous unit to the extent of 25,000 pounds, the unit to be known as the TCD Applied Research and Consultancy Group, and to consist of a number of Applied Research Units along the lines suggested above, concentrating principally on those areas of activity already stimulated by the NSC schemes. The IDA support would enable staff to be recruited independently of project funding, so that a group of applied-research people might be established with the possibility of building up some continuity of experience.

Units were set up in the following areas:

*Microelectronic applications (ie designing and producing prototype special-purpose equipment to clients' specifications, starting at 'chip' level)

*Applied Physics (mostly developing and adapting advanced laboratory instrumentation to service special-purpose industrial needs)

*Applied Biology/Environment (environmental impact assessments etc)

*Software Services (initially related to the needs of agriculture, particularly as regards livestock breeding)


These were additional to the already existing Statistics and Operational Research Laboratory, which had been in existence since 1971.

Activity built up around these units between October 1976 and the summer of 1980, peak annual turnover being in the region of 150,000 pounds, with some 10 full-time staff employed.

Projects ranged in size from 500 to 20,000 pounds. By way of examples, there were two large projects in which one of us (PD) had some personal involvement: an environmental/applied physics problem with Bord na Mona(9) and a software development for NBST. The first was an attempt to identify the nature and cause of spontaneous combustion in stored milled peat, and to suggest means of control. It was co-ordinated by Dr Daphne Levinge (of the Applied Biology/Environment Unit) while one of us (PD) was the principal consultant. A full-time graduate research assistant was employed for microbiological and chemical analysis, and considerable input came from the Applied Physics Unit with monitoring equipment etc. The Project Officer and Principal Consultant were involved at all stages in consultations and negotiations with Bord na Mona personnel, and with the research assistant in the field work. Statistical analysis was provided by the Statistics and OR Laboratory.

The second project was a modelling excercise to estimate the costs, cash flows and possible management bottlenecks in the production of biomass energy using short-rotation forestry, with the possibility of using cutaway bog as the main land-resource in mind. A flexible and fully conversational system was developed, including an appropriately structured and managed data-base, suitable for a mini-computer. This involved team-work between systems analyses, botanists, engineers as well as those of the AFT and Bord na Mona staff concerned with the national biomass project. As information becomes available from the national program, the data-base can be updated and the techno-economic analyses produced by the system tightened up.....

Why did this promising start not continue in this form?

There are some inbuilt weaknesses in the structure, the principal one being the system (imposed by university personnel policy) of attempting to retain staff with renewable annual contracts, so that although a degree of continuity was maintained, and there was a developing sense of loyalty to the enterprise, there was always a sense of insecurity, which in some cases, particularly among electronics technicians, led to a high rate of staff turnover, so that in effect we were running a training scheme for the multinationals, without reward for this particular function.

Another weakness was with the Software Unit, where the programming had evolved out of an ad-hoc problem-solving excercise, without the benefit of what has come to be known as 'software engineering'. This led to fatal difficulties with a major project in the transition from IBM to DEC in the College computer laboratory. We now have a feel for the importance of software modularity and portability, and the successor to the Software Unit, known as the Software Engineering Laboratory, is organised and staffed accordingly.

Also a significant setback took place in 1979, when in the light of the then very positive experience a 'Phase II Expansion Programme' was submitted to the IDA, which gave every indication of enthusiastic support (after all had not 10 jobs been created at a cost of only 2000 pounds per job?). Some equipment was ordered in this context, so as be in a position to deliver to a deadline; a calculated risk was taken prior to IDA formal acceptance of the programme. Unfortunately however the IDA was prevented by the veto on the Department of Industry and Commerce from supporting the programme, on the grounds that the original 25,000(10) had been an exceptional procedure, and that all State funding for universities should go via the Higher Education Authority or the NBST.

(Had we been a limited company the situation would have been different.)(11).

This was a severe setback from the point of view of the College. Some close financial analysis was initiated, which came up with the result that over the build-up period the ARC Group had operated with revenue at 86% of total cost, the Industrial Liaison Office being totally charged to Group overheads. Accordingly it was agreed to re-structure the system, with the ILO being carried by the College (there is a small NBST subvention for this) and the Applications Units being absorbed into the departments or interdepartmental groupings concerned. In the case of the Microelectronics Laboratory, an arrangement was entered into with the IIRS whereby it became their unit on the TCD campus.

The present position, then, is that the Industrial Liaison Office provides a contact-point between the outside world and a multiplicity of departmental ARUs, as well as a source of initiative in setting up new structures as the need arises, and interdepartmental management services where necessary......

Thus a structure similar to that aspired to in the 1974 Report has been achieved, but the problems of ensuring continuity of experience and the establishment of career-structures have only partially been resolved.

The model for their solution is suggested by the IIRS campus unit(12). Could not a system be devised whereby outside agencies (eg the State Research Institutes, or consortia of firms interested in buying a window into the state of the art in a particular area of technology) financed the continuity of the various Applied Research Units?

For example, the leadership of the TCD Environmental Unit might be a step in the career-profile for Foras Forbartha staff, or the Software Engineering Laboratory (which is currently specialising in energy systems analysis) could perhaps be underwritten by a long-term contract with the Department of Energy.

Also, there needs to be established a means of recruiting relatively senior people, having industrial experience, to lead the Units, and of enabling them to contribute significantly to the various departmental postgraduate programmes.

We have a long way to go before the third-level applied-research system reaches dynamic stability, with the necessary creative two-way interaction with the basic-research system. The possibility of such an interaction, in the case of the Dublin University enterprise, has been convincingly demonstrated in the Irish context. We should seek to build on this experience, possibly with insights gained from the Scandinavian model(13), until we achieve a fruitful dynamic equilibrium between industrial and social needs on the one hand, and university activity on the other, with a close watch being kept on the 'basic/applied ratio' as the measure of our concern for the long-term future.

THE TECHNE CONCEPT

draft 5, April 1983

In the following notes a concept is outlined for a dynamic procedure enabling the educational resources of the third-level system to be motivated towards the setting up of a number of small enterprises rooted in the opportunities presented by student projects. Some of these enterprises are expected to be of a quality such as to attract venture-capital.

The concept is centred on a proposed company, to be known as 'Techne Developments ltd' which will provide management services for a number of small companies each of which will be known as 'Techne (X) ltd', where X is a descriptor of the development project. The total system will be known as the 'Techne Group'.

The associated 'X' companies will be in a state of dynamic transition between a 'Phase I' state (in which 'concept X' will be at the level of a student project) and a 'Phase III' state, in which the company will shed the 'Techne' label and launch into production as 'X ltd', with the necessary financial support from the market. Thus the 'Techne Group' will consist of a central unit of which the roles are (a) to generate a feedstock of next-generation 'X' concepts in the third-level system (b) to provide management services for a number of 'soft' companies, consisting of earlier 'X' concepts selected to proceed to 'Phase II'.

Techne Developments Ltd (TDL) will be owned by a core-group of sponsoring companies(14), who will contribute the initial capital; it will have an eminent Chairman, with the necessary scientific, technological and business credibility. It may consider inviting the participation of a nominee of a major British or Continental(15) enterprise which has made a success with technological enterprise at the university-industry interface.

TDL will seek a panel of clients from a wider circle who are prepared to subscribe to a fund (pay an entrance-fee) entitling them to be have a say in the specification of projects in Phase I, and to a seat on the board of the Phase II 'Techne X ltd' (TXL) company, provided it was in their declared spectrum of interest. They would also be entitled to preferential tendering for the right to invest in any company proceeding to Phase III. Thus the TDL client companies would be buying (a) a window into R and D (b) an option to be 'in on' the development of any good ideas emerging.

Consider now the phases of the process. For ease of description we think in terms of the academic year, but this is not necessarily always so; once a project reaches Phase II the timing will be determined by judgment based on market and other factors.

In Phase I TDL will retain the services of a number of academic supervisors (throughout the total 3rd-level system of the country, selected on the basis of entrepreneurial track-record and/or HIES(16) experience) who will specify a number of final-year undergraduate projects in consultation with specific members of the client-panel. Project proposals will be budgeted (in student-hours, supervisor-hours and materials) and will aim to proceed to Phase II, showing an awareness of the need of complementary skills. A selection of projects showing an adequate awareness of the follow-through potential will be funded as regards materials etc. Account will be kept of time input, but in Phase I this will not be paid for. If Project X goes forward to Phase II, becoming TXL, prior hours will be paid for in TXL equity, which, if Phase III is attained, will begin to assume value. People are therefore being asked to work in their own possible long-term interest; this for some will constitute a motivation.

It is appropriate initially to think on a scale perhaps of about 100 Phase I projects, funded by TDL as regards materials, at relatively low cost.

At the end of Phase I we consider the transition to Phase II which will take the form of the 'soft' company 'Techne(X) ltd' (TXL). The nature of this transition process is also a matter for investigation ..... provisionally we are thinking in terms of a number of confidential 'shop-window' presentations at which the Phase I project results would be displayed to panels of sponsors, who would then help with the decision-process whereby a Phase II short-list is selected. In some cases however it may be necessary to proceed on a more confidential basis.

One way or another, the Phase II 'TXL' state should involve:

(a)a high level of dedication by one or more students at postgraduate level or equivalent (we need not necessariliy link it with registering for an M Sc, although in some cases this would be a bonus, especially in the event of failure);

(b)dedication by the academic supervisor at a level of concern such as to justify his title of Managing Director of TXL;

(c) serious consideration of the types of complementary skills necessary to get the project to Phase III.


The Board of Directors should include:

(a) a TDL nominee,

(b) nominees of one or more TDL client firms having a possible interest in the follow-through, if any,

(c) Nominee(s) of one or more associated academic departments which are the source(s) of the necessary complementary skills.


(We are here thinking of the necessary mix of inputs from science, engineering and business, in the spirit of the March 1982 'Deans Conference' as sponsored by AIB and NBST(17)).

Directors' fees should be in TXL equity (ie in 'monopoly money' which will only assume value if and when the company hardens into Phase III).

Cash input from TDL would cover the bought-in materials as budgeted at the start of Phase II, and would be covered by equity (possibly of a different class as regards voting rights; this needs to be gone into).

At the end of Phase II, which should be at the level of a working prototype system, device, service, process or whatever, together with market assessment and estimate of production system costs, a proposal for Phase III should be ready to seek capital from the market. Those concerned should have first option, followed by the remainder of the TDL client firm panel, followed by the general public.

At this stage the academic supervisor should cease to be MD and should become perhaps Chairman of the Board, or maybe a Director. The MD should be whichever of the development team shows the necessary leadership qualities; or the post might be recruited specially if necessary. The point is that we do not want to develop a system in which the 3rd level system is bled of its enterprising academics. Very exceptionally an academic might take leave of absence to stay as MD during the hardening process, but with a view to returning soon. The Mentec/Accuspec(18) process, while it shows that there is potential in the system, constitutes a long-term destructive process of 'kidnapping the ploughman', which should not be repeated too often. Likewise the Timoney process(19) is dependent on the prime mover being single, and the firm being his family. This of course is occasionally possible, and can be very creative, but should not be encouraged as the norm.

In the event that the Phase II output is not of a standard to make it to Phase III, consideration will be given to marketing or licencing out the degree of knowhow achieved, as a piece of R and D. Client firms will have the priority option to purchase this in the Phase II wind-up operation. This will constitute an important supplementary output of the system.

At present we are thinking that to get of the order of 3 Phase III companies off the ground we will need 10-15 Phase II 'soft companies' most of which will wind up and be written off, derived from of the order of 100 student projects.

It is necessary to assess how the cost of the large number of 'soft' failures and the student-project seeding will balance the expectation of gain from the few successes, and how much State support is going to be necessary to make the package look attractive to the private sector. There is also the question of the tax-credit for private money put into R and D. We need to estimate the State-private ratio, and to define the appropriate channels for the State input (as between NBST, IDA, Youth Employment Agency or whatever).

The important thing is to make the entry into the R&D / innovation / diversification process easy for the small-to-medium firm; attractive enough to make them want to gamble an entrance-fee and devote a little skilled time to the project assessment process.

The TDL management (which would include the proposer) would expect to function on an overhead of (say) 15% of the cash flow; it could also expect to generate some revenue from licencing out where it owned the patents, and from equity of successful 'X' companies.......

NOTES

1. This Third Annual Report of the ILO (the first during the writer's tenure of the position) was circulated as a discussion document to all College departments. The consensus refers to a series of inter-departmental meetings which were set up to consider how best to approach the question of applied research and industrial liaison.

2. The system involved the use of ionising radiations.

3. See Chapter 5.1 on 28/5/70

4. See also Chapter 4.1 on 22/2/73 and 15/5/74. The memorandum was submitted on 23/5/74 to the Marine Resources Committee of the NSC. No action was taken; some time later the Higher Education Authority, in its wisdom, allocated to Galway the first Irish geophysics chair, despite the prior concentration of relevant expertise in Dublin. One is led to suspect that there may be people at work seeking actively to prevent concentration of Irish expertise in certain key areas, and who know how to manipulate inter-university political rivalries in the interests of the trans-national corporations.

5. This paper was delivered by Dr Paul Dowding (Botany Department, TCD, also an active consultant with the Applied Biology/Environment Group) at a Dublin Institute of Technology Conference on this theme, and simultaneously by the writer at a conference of the International Association of Consultants in Higher Education Institutions (IACHEI) in Chelmsford, England. The latter body emerged as a result of an OECD conference on the European experience of the university-industry interface, which took place in Paris in March 1980.

6. This excellent compilation is published annually by Brunel University for the UK 'University Departments of Industrial Liaison Group'; it lists all active university-industry interface systems in Britain and Ireland.

7. This was the thinking before the implications of the 1973 energy crisis had fully sunk in. If it were to be done now, there would be input from those interested in biomass energy systems, and the range of departments would be correspondingly greater.

8. Professor V J McBrierty, whose work has included development of NMR techniques for estimation of dispersion of filler in polymer composites.

9. The State-owned peat development agency, which (among other activities) supplies electricity generating stations with bulk milled peat from lowland blanket bog, a process highly relevant to the needs of many third-world countries, and not enough publicised. Losses by spontaneous combustions can be as high as 10%, and it seems that the problem is becoming more acute as lower levels of bog are reached. This was a one-year project which gave some feel for the dynamics of the process, and some useful insights were gained; for example, re-infection of one year's harvest by the residues of the previous year turned out to be a surface rather than a volume phenomenon, which rendered somewhat more economically feasible various conjectured treatment procedures. The project was discontinued, largely due to financial constraints within Bord na Mona, which was unable to work profitably (despite the energy bonanza) due to Government constraints. The problem remains.

10. In the event only 20,000 of this was in fact taken up, due to various constraints.

11. This had been proposed in the 1974 Report, but the College authorities were not at the time prepared to give it any consideration.

12. Although this model has prospered on the Galway campus (in the field of industrial biochemistry), the TCD/IIRS campus unit withered. No dynamic autonomous management system emerged to fill the gap left by the standing down of central ARC Group management, and morale slumped. After completing a major project producing computer-controlled component-testing equipment for a major electronics firm in Dundalk, there was no follow-on project ready; the engineers concerned left to join a small company producing micro-computers, where they now head the R and D group. The lesson is that any such unit needs dynamic autonomous management, close links with the key College departmental research areas, and a high profile in the market-place.

13. Particularly the University of Trondheim, which functions (if I read correctly the indications of the Paris OECD meeting referred to above) as if IIRS and TCD shared the same campus, and the IIRS staff were dispersed throughout the TCD departments; in other words the ARC Group 'writ large'.

14. It could, of course, equally well, or even preferably, be owned by the State, if the latter were in the business of providing capital and other resources to entrepreneurs. In Ireland in 1983 however the cultural/political bias is towards the principle of private ownership of capital. The model might, however, be relevant to (say) Hungary, where there appears to be a developing tradition of the State owning the productive resources and leasing them to self-managing groups of worker-entrepreneurs.

15. This restriction is due to the nature of the writer's network of contacts and experience. Also there is already in existence ERII, an enterprise on the fringe of NIHE (Limerick) which is associated with the Georgia Institute of Technology in the US. It seems appropriate to complement this rather than to compete with it.

16. The Higher Education/Industry Scheme, as sponsored by the NBST. This scheme has brought many academics up to an acceptable level of industrial applied-research credibility.

17. A University/Industry Conference implemented by a Committee of Deans of Science, Engineering and Business Studies, drawn from all colleges in the State, sponsored by NBST and the Allied Irish Bank. The theme was 'Education for Entrepreneurship'.

18. Companies in the fields of on-line computing and advanced instrumentation systems which 'spun off' from TCD in the late 70s, taking enterprising academic staff with them, thereby leaving the College the poorer in the type of talent necessary for the promotion of an entrepreneurial approach among students.

19. The UCD Professor of Mechanical Engineering manages a successful firm (Adtec ltd). Incidentally, the term 'kidnapping the ploughman', which characterises the Mentec and Accuspec cases, but not the Timoney, was introduced by the writer into the currency, in response to the 'Deans' Conference' of March 1982, in order to describe metaphorically a situation somewhat more dangerous than that suggested by the better-known 'eating (or indeed, in the Irish case, exporting) the seed corn'. Dr Mike Peirce and Dr Val Rossiter, the principals of the two firms concerned, were the prime exhibits on the platform.

[To Irish Times Column Index] [Techne Associates]

Some navigational notes:

A highlighted number brings up a footnote or a reference. A highlighted word hotlinks to another document (chapter, appendix, table of contents, whatever). In general, if you click on the 'Back' button it will bring to to the point of departure in the document from which you came.

Copyright Dr Roy Johnston 1999