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Storm Technology-DERI

30 November 2011
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Academics do things in a very different way that can seem out of context with industry, but it makes you look at things differently.

Storm Technology is an indigenous software solutions and services firm that has first-hand experience of working with university research. Company CEO Karl Flannery saw an opportunity to use funding support to explore ways of bringing more value to his business.

"It's a three-way thing between the customer, the academics, and ourselves, bringing all our levels up in how we think about knowledge and information," he says.

Having teamed up with the Digital Enterprise Research Institute (DERI) in Galway, engineers from Storm go on secondment to work alongside the researchers. It's a change for employees from being at the coalface of IT projects, while researchers gain real world insights from working so closely with a services company.

There is potential for a culture clash, so both sides have to be flexible, according to Flannery.

"You have to be prepared to change a lot of things within your own organisation when you engage with researchers; you have to understand where they are coming from and the way their work is measured. And it works both ways," he says. "It's important to meet as regularly as possible and work on the relationship."

"Academics do things in a very different way that can seem out of context with industry, but it makes you look at things differently. From their side, they are delighted to get the chance to get access to a real customer's content and use it in their research," he adds.

As a member of the ISA, he welcomes the ISIN initiative but warns companies not to expect too much too soon. "There are no quick wins; you have to take a long term view. We have been working with DERI for two years and nothing has come out of it yet in terms of IP, but we're confident we'll have something within the next year."