FAQS for Researchers/Students

If I have a good idea/invention who do I contact?

Contact the DIT Hothouse Licensing Executive directly dealing with the technology sector of your idea/invention.


The DIT Hothouse Team.

T: 01 402 7179  E: hothouse@dit.ie

What happens once I contact DIT Hothouse about my invention/idea?

The relevant Licensing Executive from DIT Hothouse will meet with you, and assess your idea/invention.


If it looks to have commercial potential, we will help you fill out a DIT Invention Disclosure & Assignment 2016. This helps us to more fully understand the idea/invention and evaluate its commercial merit. If the idea/invention has market potential, we will help you protect and commercialise it, i.e. assist in patenting the idea, approach suitable companies on your behalf and work towards bringing your technology to market through the most appropriate commercial vehicle. If we feel that your idea/invention is not yet ready to commercialise, we will advise on what you can do to strengthen the idea/invention and how you might best proceed.   

Who owns the Intellectual Property (IP) generated by DIT staff/students in developing an idea/invention?

Unlike most other universities, DIT staff or student(s) who create the idea/invention own the associated IP.


The only exception to this is where:

  • contracts are in place with sponsors that require IP assignment,
  • DIT resources were used in the creation of the IP,
  • administrative materials were developed for DIT.

The creator is therefore free to commercialise his/her IP. However, if you decide to come to DIT Hothouse for help, you must assign your IP to DIT. This is necessary as DIT must take ownership in order to engage with funding agencies and industry. However, once DIT owns the IP, DIT Hothouse works on your behalf to commercialise the IP. Revenues derived from it are shared with the creator more favorably than is the case with most other universities or institutions. As the creator, you can also request the return of your IP rights, i.e. “re-assignment”, should you wish to do so.

See the  DIT IP policy for more details.

How do I know if I have created novel IP?

If it is not in the public domain, i.e. if it has not previously been revealed publicly.


A novel product, process, application, or even software can be considered IP. However, for the IP to be patentable, it must show an inventive step, be non-obvious to somebody knowledgeable in the area and have an industrial application. If you think you have created novel IP, contact a member of the DIT Hothouse team prior to disclosing it publicly (i.e. publishing a research paper, presenting a poster, putting it up on a webpage, etc.) If an idea/invention is not appropriately protected before it is publicly revealed, it will not be patentable.

What is IP disclosure?

This refers to any public presentation.


Public presentation can be oral or written, and includes publications, conference abstracts and presentations to a group outside the immediate research group.

What are the other forms of IP protection?

IP Protection can be sought in a variety of ways, including through patenting, copyright, design rights and trademarking.


Patenting is typically the most common method used in third level institutes.  DIT Hothouse can advise on the most appropriate means of protection for your IP.

What should a member of staff, researcher or student do to engage in protecting and commercialising IP?

The process is simple: if you think you have an idea (usually technical) or research results that may have commercial advantages (with or without further development), contact DIT Hothouse.


If the research or idea warrants patenting, DIT Hothouse will assist in researching the patent literature for prior art, investigate patent funding possibilities and initiate and progress a commercial development plan with you. To fund a patent application, DIT Hothouse typically engages with Enterprise Ireland and relevant patent agents, using the Intellectual Property Protection Fund for the Higher Education Sector or its current equivalent.

If I invent something at home, outside of work-related disciplines, who owns it?

You own it, once you are not using any of your employer’s resources.


You do, once you are not using any of your employer’s resources.

If someone is paid to produce work for me, who owns the IP?

If work is being produced by others on your behalf, it is always better to have a contract agreement in place clearly defining, amongst other things, who owns the output of this work.


DIT Hothouse can assist you in putting in place a contract agreement and talk you through the various options available.

What happens if I tell people I have an invention?

That depends on what you disclose! You can destroy the novelty of the invention if it is disclosed publicly (including publication in conference proceedings research journals).


You can talk about what the invention does, but not disclose how it does it until a patent application has been filed and a non-disclosure agreement has been put in place. If in doubt, talk to a member of the DIT Hothouse team.

How does storing information on the cloud affect your IP rights?

If you are using or considering using cloud storage, review the terms and conditions of the provider.


This will determine default ownership and access rights.

If I give a prototype to a 3rd party for testing, does this destroy the novelty of the idea?

To protect the novelty of the idea, talk to a member of the DIT Hothouse team first.


DIT Hothouse can put in place a non-disclosure agreement and/or a materials transfer agreement with the 3rd party to ensure that everything remains confidential, thereby protecting the novelty of the idea.

What is the legal status of a non-disclosure agreement (NDA)?

The legality is determined by what is listed in the non-disclosure agreement, who you speak to, what information is transferred, and when the information was transferred, etc.


The DIT Hothouse team can assist in putting in place an NDA between yourself and a 3rd party.

What is a patent?

Patents protect the technical and functional aspects of products and processes.


A patent is a contract between the inventor of the patented invention and the State, whereby the inventor gets a monopoly from the State for a defined period in return for disclosing full details of the invention. Patents protect the technical and functional aspects of products and processes. A patent gives the applicant/inventor the right to exclude others from exploiting (making, using, selling, importing) the patented invention without their consent.

  • The patent owner is any company or body registered as the proprietor. For example, if an invention is made by an employee, the employer will typically be the owner/proprietor (unlike many other companies and institutions, this is not the default position at DIT).
  • A patent is a form of industrial property that can be bought, sold, licensed or used by the owner.
  • A patent lasts for 20 years from the date of filing the application. The Irish patent office also offers short-term patents which are used to protect smaller inventions and may be granted more rapidly. However, they provide protection for only 10 years.

How can I carry out a patent search?

Patent searches can be carried out on the European Patent Office (EPO) website.


They can be carried out free of charge on the EPO website at worldwide.espacenet.com using relevant key words in the searches.

Can I publish my invention or idea and still patent?

You can publish after you file a patent application.


If the content is disclosed to anyone who is not under a non-disclosure agreement then a patent cannot be filed. This means you cannot share the content with persons outside DIT (including external supervisors who are not under a non-disclosure agreement), present a poster session, seminar, conference or provide an abstract to a publisher until the filing is done. Typically, filing a patent application takes 4-6 weeks so it can easily be done in advance of publishing and does not delay publishing unduly.

Can I publish my invention or idea after I file a patent?

Yes, you can publish after you file a patent and reference that a patent has been filed.


It is important not to publish or disclose additional modifications that you may later want to add to the patent. You can add modifications and enhance the patent filing within the first year.

If I file a patent in Ireland, what happens if someone files for the same patent overseas?

That depends on the earliest filing date.


The person with the earliest filing date can file for the patent.

What is the priority date on a patent?

The date the patent application is filed in your national patent office.


The priority date is the date the patent application is filed in your national patent office.

Can software be patented?

Software itself cannot be patented. If the code generates a technical effect, the technical effect can be protected through a patent.


Software can be protected through copyright. Mark the work with ‘©’, include your name and date it. This should be done on all drafts as well as on the final work. It will assist in legally defending your work and will warn others that your work is protected. 

Can data processing methods be patented by themselves?

As with software, not if the data processing generates a technical effect. The technical effect can be protected through a patent.


As with software, not if the data processing generates a technical effect. The technical effect can be protected through a patent. 

What happens if the information is already in the public domain, e.g. a drawing, which is difficult to locate?

If it is not found during the patent examination and the patent is granted, there is a nine-month period to object.


If it is not found during the patent examination and the patent is granted, inventors and their organisations have a nine-month period after the granting of a patent to object, stating clearly the reasons for objection to awarding of the patent.

Can I get an update on how the patent is progressing through the examination phase?

Yes. You can check the status of the patent on the patent databases of the European Patent Office (EPO) or the United States Patent and Trading Office (USPTO).


Links to the EPO's worldwide.espacenet.com or USPTO's uspto.gov/patents.

Does copyright stop people re-writing my computer code?

Copyright only protects your specific code.


However, others can write fresh code which has the same function as your code without infringing on copyright.

Do I need to use the copyright symbol on my work?

No, you do not need to mark your work with a copyright symbol, but would advise you to do so.


Mark the work with ‘©’, include your name and date it. This should be done on all drafts as well as the final work. It will help in legally defending your work and will warn others that your work is protected. 

How long does it take to get a trade mark?

It takes approximately six to eight months to go through examination.


However, the exact duration depends on the workload of the patent examination office.

Who should counter-sign a laboratory notebook?

Ideally, somebody with subject background to acknowledge what the information is in relation to, but not a co-inventor.


There could be a conflict of interest if a co-inventor counter-signs.

Can two existing independent products be patented if combined?

For patenting it always comes back to whether the combined product exhibits novelty, demonstrates an inventive step and has an industrial application.


 If the combined product demonstates all of these, it should be patentable.

FAQS for Investors

What is DIT Hothouse?

DIT Hothouse is the Innovation and Technology Transfer Office at Dublin Institute of Technology responsible for the commercialisation of intellectual property arising from DIT research.


It is the hub of innovation and technology transfer activities in DIT. Our team works with students, lecturers and research teams across DIT as well as with entrepreneurs, industry leaders and investors. Through the DIT Hothouse New Frontiers Programme, we provide an incubation centre for innovative and promising start-up companies. DIT Hothouse has a range of spin-out technologies available to industry across Life Sciences, Food, ICT, Software, Industrial Technology, Manufacturing and Clean Technologies.

As an investor, what opportunities are available to me through DIT Hothouse?

At DIT Hothouse, we have opportunities to invest in spin-out technologies and start-up companies across a wide range of technologies and industry sectors.


If you are looking for a new business idea, DIT Hothouse has a number of spin-out technologies across a wide range of technologies and industry sectors. If you are investing in a start-up company, we have a number of innovative companies currently seeking investment. 

Spin-out Technologies

At DIT Hothouse, we have a number of investment opportunities available across a wide range of technologies and industry sectors.


At Hothouse, we have a number of investment opportunities  in spin-out technologies available across a wide range of technologies and industry sectors. 

Start-up Companies

DIT Hothouse has a number of innovative companies on the New Frontiers programme currently seeking investment.


If you are interested in examining investment opportunities with current innovative New Frontiers programme participants, please see latest opportunities

Who do I contact within DIT Hothouse if I am looking for an investment opportunity?

For a DIT spin-out technology, a DIT Hothouse Licensing Executive, and for a start-up company, the DIT Hothouse Incubation Centre Manager.


To invest in a DIT spin-out technology, contact the relevant DIT Hothouse Licensing Executive in the category you interested in or contact DIT Hothouse at T: 01 402 7179.

To invest in a start-up company, contact the DIT Hothouse Incubation Centre Manager, Bernadette O'Reilly. T: 01 240 1309, E: bernadette.oreilly@hothouse.ie.

FAQS for Hothouse New Frontiers Programme

What are the eligibility criteria for applying for New Frontiers?

The participant selection criteria set by Enterprise Ireland include:


  • Promoter track record.
  • Business experience or acumen.
  • Capability – have the necessary management and technical skills.
  • A suitable background which will enable the development of business with sustainable competitive advantage.
  • Credibility – e.g. ability to raise development funding.
  • Commitment, drive & determination of promoter.
  • Promoter’s ability to benefit from participation on the programme.
  • Likelihood of successful implementation of the business plan.
  • Quality of business idea proposed by the promoter.
  • Level of innovation / technology.
  • Market analysis.
  • Value proposition.
  • Employment potential.
  • Growth potential.
  • Likelihood of becoming a sustainable business (i.e. trade for > 5 years).

Is the DIT Hothouse/New Frontiers program for individuals, teams, or both?

The programme is for the individual entrepreneur.


We encourage teams to help accelerate the growth of your start-up but only the supported entrepreneur attends the Phase 1 and Phase 2 workshops and clinics and gets paid the scholarship payment on Phase 2.

How do I apply for New Frontiers Phase 1?

Register your interest in our next DIT Hothouse New Frontiers programme.


Register your interest here for notification of the application date for our next DIT Hothouse New Frontiers programme.

How do I ensure I will be notified of the recruitment date for the next New Frontiers programme?

By registering your interest in applying for the next DIT Hothouse New Frontiers programme.


Click here to register your interest in applying for the next DIT Hothouse New Frontiers programme.

Is the New Fronters programme full- or part-time?

New Frontiers Phase 1 is part-time. New Frontiers Phase 2 is full-time.


Phase 1 is part-time, with workshops being held on weekends to facilitate those working during the week.

Phase 2 is full-time, with mandatory workshops.

Are there internships/work placements available within the start-up companies?

Yes, there are internship, work placement and student project opportunities with the DIT Hothouse start-up companies.


For internships/work placement or student project opportunities with DIT Hothouse start-up companies visit http://hothouseprogrammes.ie/work-opportunities.

What funding can I access if I am on New Frontiers Phase 2?

The New Frontiers stipend is intended to fund the participant to deliver a robust business plan, without further feasibility funding.


Funding for the next step should be the Competitive Start Fund or a HPSU investment. However if, at the end of 6 months, the participant has a business plan that clearly demonstrates the business’ potential but there is a gap that needs to be addressed before applying for next stage funding (CSF, HPSU investment) additional supports may be considered by Enterprise Ireland. HPSU feasibility may be agreed by the DA/DM at the discretion of the HPSU team and will only be in cases where there is clear added value.

While I am on the New Frontiers Phase 2 programme can I continue to work in full-time employment?

Participants cannot receive any other funding (including paid employment) to cover their salary.


  • Participants can apply for Competitive Start Funding but cannot draw down this funding until they have completed drawdown of the New Frontiers stipend or declined further stipend drawdown. Competitive Start Funding covers the next stage in business development and cannot run concurrently with early stage feasibility supports delivering business plans.

Do I have an Enterprise Ireland Development Advisor during New Frontiers Phase 2?

During New Frontiers Phase 2, participants will meet with a sector specific HPSU DA [from Industrial or from Software Enterprise/Communication & Digital Media, depending on the project].


However, the Enterprise Ireland Regional Development Executive remains the primary Enterprise Ireland contact for the participant until formal handover to HPSU/County Enterprise Board. At the final exit meeting (i.e. the 6 month review) the participant will be assessed by a panel consisting of the Regional Director (or deputy), the CEB, HPSU DA, IoT. This will provide a forum to formally decide the best route forward for each participant.

Should I bring my business partner/s to the interview?

That depends on the situation but for New Frontiers Phase 1 the interview panel prefers to meet the main promoter individually.


For New Frontiers Phase 2 interviews, the panel is interested in meeting the team (although this is not a requirement and depends on the type of business being promoted).

FAQS for New Frontiers Participants

Should I have a Gmail account (or have my domain hosted on Gmail)?

DIT Hothouse uses Google Calendar for creating and scheduling in-house and external events.


An email address is necessary for participants to receive invitations for these events and other communications about the programme.  To make things as seamless as possible, DIT Hothouse recommends that all its participants have or create their own Gmail (Google Mail) account to avoid any technical issues regarding receiving emails and responding to them.

See the following tutorial for creating a Gmail account: create your own Google (GMail) account

Why am I receiving Google calendar invites?

When an event has been created in Google calendar by the Program Manager, an invitation is sent to each guest via Google as each participant is added to the guest list.


When you receive your invitation, it is important that you respond promptly by clicking Accept, Decline or Tentative.  After responding to an event invitation, participants’ guest status will be automatically updated beside their name in the guest list in the Google calendar event.  A tick denotes invitation accepted, a circle with live through it denotes invitation declined, while a question mark denotes a tentative acceptance.

What are the opening hours for Docklands Innovation Park?

Docklands Innovation Park opening hours:


  • Monday to Friday      5am to 9pm
  • Saturday, Sunday     9am to 5pm
  • Bank Holidays           Closed

What parking facilities are available at Docklands Innovation Park?

There is free parking within the Docklands Innovation Park but on a first-come first-served, unallocated basis.


Double parking is possible in marked places. However, your name and mobile number must be left on the windscreen in case your car needs to be moved.

Are there Wi-Fi connections in Docklands Innovation Park?

Yes. When in Docklands Innovation Park connect to ‘BoltonTrust’.


If there is a problem with this Wi-Fi network or if the router is flashing yellow, it needs to be rebooted. Ask Reception for the key to the Lonsdale Room. The device is plugged in at the far end of the room and can be rebooted by switching it off and then back on.