Last August, UCD announced a €6.5 million development project to expand the capacity of NovaUCD, the University’s Centre for New Ventures and Entrepreneurs, to increase capacity to house early-stage start-ups by over 50%. The project to renovate and extend the facility’s east courtyard commenced in August 2018 and is expected to be completed by summer this year.

NovaUCD, based in UCD’s Belfield campus, officially opened in October 2003, and is located in a mid-18th century house, formerly known as Merville House. It currently comprises of a restored main building along with the restoration and extension of the west courtyard. The current expansion will see the renovation and extension of a second, or east, courtyard. NovaUCD currently has 1,425m2 of licensable space in a total of 40 units, labs and co-working space.

The newly developed courtyard will result in 800m2 of additional licensable space, and will include a total of 23 business units, labs and co-working space. A statement from NovaUCD’s Communications Office said that “the development of the east courtyard will enable us to increase our capacity by over 50% and when completed, NovaUCD will be able to accommodate up to 450 people.”

Alongside the €6.5m renovation, a number of new programmes are due to be introduced to tie Nova, and University College Dublin as a whole, more closely to sectors with high-growth potential such as medical, financial and agriculture tech.

Since opening in 2003, the hub has supported over 225 companies, which have either spun-out of UCD research programmes or have spun-in to locate at NovaUCD in order to collaborate with the University. NovaUCD has also supported an additional 130+ early-stage ventures through a series of programmes run and managed by NovaUCD. Some €200 million in equity funding has been raised by the hub’s budding entrepreneurs, and over 2,000 jobs created.

Tom Flanagan, UCD’s Director of Enterprise and Commercialization said “the NovaUCD facility has been running at full capacity for several years now. There is an ongoing and significant demand from ambitious entrepreneurs who want to locate their start-ups at NovaUCD to leverage our ecosystem of experienced mentors, founders, alumni, investors and sponsors who can help them grow their businesses globally. By joining the NovaUCD community these start-ups can also take advantage of access to our world-class researchers, facilities and talent across the UCD campus.”

In an earlier statement to the Irish Times, Mr. Flanagan also said, “this development will enable us to support a lot more startups while those locating here can also take advantage of our world-class research and expertise across the wider UCD campus. We like to have a combination of spin-ins and spinouts and have had success with both. We now have about 55 companies across the campus between Nova, Nexus (industry partnership centre) and some of our labs. We also have Consult UCD, our new consulting arm, and a knowledge transfer office.”

Flanagan says there are also plans to leverage the expertise and resources at UCD’s Lyons Research Farm in Co Kildare to develop more AgTech-related startups while 5G is another key area of interest, in addition to a MedTech programme recently launched to create locations of dedicated knowledge transfer offices within hospitals.

The building is currently home to over 25 start-up companies, with the most recent entrants being Evervault, a cybersecurity service, founded by Shane Curran, and myStudyPal, an educational technology venture started by Mark Nealon. Both founders are first year undergraduate students of UCD. In a recent interview with the University Observer, Mark acknowledges NovaUCD for providing excellent opportunities for shared learning through his co-working space, along with proximity to campus so he can attend classes easily. Flanagan was quoted saying, “(Both ventures) are ones to watch in the years ahead”

ChangingWorlds, software firm acquired by Amdocs in 2008 for over $60 million, BiancaMed, a leading medical technology company acquired by Rapid7 in 2015 for $68 million, Equinome, who developed the speed gene test for thoroughbred horses, and Logentries, providing real-time log management & analytics service, are some of NoveUCD’s best known start-ups. Some popular spin-in companies include EnBIO, the space technology company, and Genomics Medicine Ireland, who have the largest genomic facility in Ireland.

Among the companies currently located at NovaUCD are life sciences start-ups Carrick Therapeutics, which is developing pioneering cancer treatments, OncoMark, an Irish diagnostics company focused on the development of novel panels of cancer biomarkers to aid treatment decisions and allow more tailored patient management, and THEYA Healthcare, who develop lingerie for breast cancer survivors.

Six private sector sponsors – AIB, Arthur Cox, Deloitte, Ericsson, Goodbody Stockbrokers and Xilinx -contributed 75% of the €10 million raised to develop the first two phases of NovaUCD, with the balance of funds provided by Enterprise Ireland and University College Dublin.

The architects for the current expansion project are Kavanagh Tuite Architects, who were architects for the original design of the NovaUCD facility.