Placing education, research and innovation at the heart of Ireland

Dr. Ana Terrés, Director of Research Support at Dublin City University (DCU), looks at how DCU innovates for societal impact and contributes to Ireland’s economic recovery…

Dublin City University (DCU) is a young and dynamic university which aims to have an impact on Irish society, not only by placing education, research and innovation at the hearth of its strategy, but also by ensuring that the knowledge generated is translated into tangible benefits.

The university is in a process of active growth. By September 2016 DCU will incorporate 3 additional higher education institutions and following this process the new DCU Institute of Education will be the largest of its kind in the country. The Institute will lead the provision of teacher education in Ireland and will become a centre of excellence in educational research.

In addition to education, and in order to tackle societal and economic needs, DCU has implemented a novel enterprise – university engagement model: the 4 Research and Enterprise Hubs. “Enterprise” refers to a wide range of external stakeholders, from commercial to non-commercial organisations, industry, charities, NGOs, as well as cultural and social enterprise ventures. Active engagement with these organisations is fundamental to achieve the ambitious government objectives set out in the new Research and Innovation strategy, Innovation 2020.

Each R&E Hub focuses on an area where DCU have recognised strengths and at the same time where society is facing significant challenges. The hubs support team can pull together researchers from different disciplines across the campus to address specific challenges as needed, creating a unique blend of multidisciplinary expertise. The university has an extensive track record of collaboration with enterprise, which provides over 18% of the €40m per year of externally awarded funds for R&I. Informed by years of experience, we understand that agility is paramount: our internal procedures have been simplified to enable a rapid response in relation to IP and contractual issues, and a wide variety of engagement models are available to suit the individual needs of our customers and collaborators.

Research and Innovation must be underpinned by modern infrastructure that enables the advancement of knowledge. DCU is leading the way in relation to open access to its research facilities, and has created the first University, campus-wide open access research infrastructure network in the Irish Higher Education (HE) sector. This network enables access to high-end research equipment, so that all DCU researchers, as well as national and international collaborators and industrial partners can avail of these facilities ( The Network is structured into centrally coordinated core facilities to ensure that the equipment is properly managed and calibrated, and is supported by an experienced research technical team that enables the development from basic research concepts to prototyping.  Key capabilities include microscopy and spectroscopy, materials and surface analysis, biological research, material processing and enhanced specification laboratories.

DCU Research and Enterprise Hubs

Health technologies and the healthy and ageing society: This R&E hub uniquely integrates technology, life sciences and advanced analytics to address unmet needs in health, with one particular focus addressing the challenges of an ageing society.

“Limbal Stem Cell transplantation is a surgical procedure that aims at restoring vision in patients which limbal cells have been damaged. While this technique has been available in a number of other countries it was not available in Ireland until now. The first Limbal Stem Cell transplant took place recently at the Eye and Ear Hospital in Dublin thanks to a collaboration between scientist and clinicians at the hospital, the National Institute for Cellular Biotechnology in DCU, the Eye Bank and the Irish Blood Transfusion services.”

Information technology and the digital society: This R&E hub is at the forefront in developing breakthrough solutions using photonics, data analytics, big data, cloud computing and Internet of Things strategies to address the challenges of next generation ICT.

“The process of designing exams and managing the examination process in most universities is cumbersome and manual, involving multiple iterations and often requiring the input from external partners. DCU has developed “GURU”, a secure, safe and customer friendly web application that manages the process from start to finish, using the latest encryption technology. The application is fully deployed in several Irish Universities and the team is in the process of bringing this technology to international markets through a new spin-out company.”

Sustainable economies and societies: This R&E Hub focuses on advanced and sustainable manufacturing and materials, energy systems and the environment, and water technologies.

”Numerous severe floods have occurred across Ireland in the last decade. DCU Water Institute and Kingspan, with the support from Dublin City Council have collaborated in the development of an affordable smart sensor network for water level monitoring. This technology has real time capability and an end user app. When water level rises above a certain level, the sensors send out a warning alarm signal to local people, while local authorities can interpret the data to determine when flood defences need to be put in place when an alert of dangerous water level is received.”
Democratic and secure societies: This R&E Hub DCU brings considerable expertise in conflict resolution and post-conflict peacebuilding, the relationship between media and democracy, the importance of translation and inter-culturalism in contemporary society, and the role of education as a driver of social change and inclusion.

“Research at the DCU Anti-bullying Centre shows that a significant digital divide exist between parents and children in Ireland and as a consequence, children are increasingly exposed to the risks of the internet.  In collaboration with a consortium of EU universities a new online tool to combat cyber bullying ( has been developed. It containsa parent’s handbook on best practice for safe internet use and an online game simulating the handbook concepts has been created. Tools like these are essential for the education of parents in this fast evolving digital world”

Innovation 2020 sets out the government’s vision for Ireland “to become a global innovation leader driving a strong sustainable economy and a better society”, and DCU will strive to be a major player in ensuring that this vision becomes a reality.

Dr. Ana M. Terrés

Director of Research Support

Dublin City University

Please note: this is a commercial profile


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