Seven early-stage companies and new ventures from University College Dublin (UCD) and the National College of Art and Design (NCAD) are currently taking part in UCD’s new 3-month VentureLaunch Accelerator Programme. The overall objective of the initiative is to support the creation of sustainable and profitable new ventures based on intellectual property.The project will equip UCD and NCAD researchers with the skills and knowledge that will be required to work as part of a team leading a new commercial venture. On completion of the programme, the participating companies will hope to have developed a commercially viable business plan.Five of the participating new ventures are emerging from UCD, while the other two come from NCAD. The overall winner of the annual programme will be announced at a VentureLaunch Accelerator Programme Awards event to be held in UCD in late November.The winner will receive a cash prize of €10,000, as well as a professional services package worth an additional €15,000. Two of the projects are among the ventures that were pitched at last week’s Enterprise Ireland’s Big Ideas Showcase 2013 in the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. UCD energy systems research institute launched by TaoiseachAn Taoiseach Enda Kenny was present at the official launch of the UCD Energy Institute. The new unit will focus research on energy systems integration and will provide a base for improved energy performance and reduced cost with a minimal impact on the environment.Over 200 world-class energy researchers will be working in this new institution, supported by various bodies as well as the industry itself.The Institute, along with electricity distributors Eirgrid and ESB, will collaborate on a project to produce a working Smart Grid network Test Bed. The newly formed research body secured €5 million in funding from donors as well as substantial funding from within the industry.