Yesterday, the Learnovate Centre was pleased to welcome a Belgian delegation of about 30 senior executives from ADM in Brussels at the Science Gallery. ADM is a group of more 150 companies drawn from the Belgian ICT industry. The visit was facilitated by Patrick Torrekens of Enterprise Ireland, who has responsibility for developing trade for Irish industry in the Benelux region.

The group visited Ireland on a two-day ‘inspiration trip’, whose aim was to take a look at how Ireland is dealing with similar challenges to those of ADM: stimulating growth in the economy, boosting job creation, and turning innovation and research into business opportunities.

Day one of the trip included a visit to our research partners at the Telecommunications Software & Systems Group (TSSG) at Waterford Institute of Technology, where the group saw examples of academic research working in close collaboration with industry. A number of TSSG spin-out companies also gave account of how they have developed new technologies with the help of TSSG and the support of Enterprise Ireland. The day was rounded off with informal networking, firstly at a reception hosted by the Belgian Ambassador, Mr Robert Devriese and later on over dinner.

Day two began with a stroll through the grounds of our host institution, Trinity College, which set the scene perfectly for the presentations that followed. These included Dr Martyn Farrows, who provided an overview on the Centre, its mission and goals followed by Professor Vinny Wade, who introduced the group to our research agenda. Two of the Centre’s technology leads, Neil Peirce and Ian O’Keeffe presented the outputs of recent research projects on informal learning: Corporate Portal and the MyPace Student Portal.

Mid-morning, the group broke to take in a visit to see the historic Old Library and Book of Kells Exhibition, also on the TCD campus, before returning for two presentations from industry: Intuition and EmpowerTheUser.

The feedback received from the group was very positive on the visit. The delegates were impressed by the vision of the Irish government and Enterprise Ireland, and complimented their efforts to stimulate innovation through partnering business with academic research groups.

And importantly, the trip also provided the group with a number of new business contacts from Irish industry. We look forward to hearing that some of these contacts translate into new business as well.