DIT Announces Winners of Hothouse Inventors Competition

- Awards recognise new technologies in animation, communications and aviation -

Dublin Institute of Technology today announced the winners of its 2008 Inventor Competition which is open to all staff and students in DIT.  The President of DIT, Professor Brian Norton, presented the awards to:

Best Overall Entry: Dr. Charlie Cullen


Researcher Dr. Cullen invented software that greatly speeds up how animation is made, thus potentially saving animation companies millions

Best Researcher Entry: Dr. Miroslaw Narbutt (Dr Mark Davis accepting on behalf of Dr. Narbutt beside Professor Brian Norton, President, DIT, and Tom Flanagan, Head of Commercialisation at Hothouse)


Dr. Narbutt developed a technology that helps operators to improve the quality of VoIP calls

Best Undergrad: Stephen Geary


Student Stephen Geary invented a technology that could take much of the turbulence out of flying and give you a smoother flight.

Congratulating the winners, Professor Brian Norton, said "This competition has become a catalyst for invention in DIT and each year the range and strength of entries increases.  It is a great way for individuals to test the merit of their inventions so even if they are not the eventual winner, they have taken their ideas one step further."

Tom Flanagan, Head of Commercialisation, started the competition three years ago under the auspices of Hothouse, which is the innovation and technology transfer centre in DIT.   The competition is growing in popularity and this year was sponsored by leading Dublin-based Patent Attorneys Hanna, Moore & Curley.

According to Flanagan, "This year it was challenging to pick just three winners when so many excellent inventions were submitted.  Now we’ll be working with the winners to help them convert their inventions to jobs and cash."

Giving the example of previous success, Tom Flanagan said "Last year’s winner, Dan Barry – a colleague in our Faculty of Engineering – went on to license his audio technology to music giants Sony, who use it in their Playstation SingStar karaoke games.  So, who knows what’s ahead for this year’s inventors?"

DIT has launched a number of initiatives to stimulate inventions and entrepreneurial activity, including a new Intellectual Property Policy which allows inventors to own their inventions.  This is a departure from policies commonly adopted by other higher education institutions where ownership of all inventions created by staff and students is retained by the institution.   The new policy has been very well received.


For further information please contact:

Donal O'Malley
Public Relations Officer      
Dublin Institute of Technology


Ruth Kearney
Marketing Manager - Hothouse
Dublin Institute of Technology

Tel: 01 402 7130 / 086 236 4000
Tel: 01 402 714 / 087 771 2361 

Editor's Notes

Dr. Charlie Cullen is a researcher with the Digital Media Centre (DMC) at DIT.  The centre was established in the early 1990s at the start of the digital media era and is involved in industry sponsored projects, experimental production and the development of postgraduate education in the new field of interactive media.  The technology for which Dr. Cullen has won the Inventors Competition has the facility, amongst other things, to translate speech patterns into gestures in the making of animated film.

Dr. Miroslaw Narbutt came to Ireland from Lodz in Poland.  He is currently a post-doctoral researcher in the Communications Network Research Institute (CNRI) which is based in the Focas Institute in DIT.  The CNRI was founded in July 2001 to perform pure and applied research in all aspects of communications networks.  Dr. Narbutt is working on technology to improve the quality of Voice-over Internet Protocol (VoIP) calls. 

Stephen Geary is a Phase 6 apprentice, currently studying Aircraft Mechanics in the Department of Transport Engineering in DIT.  Stephen works with Air Atlanta Aero Engineering, an international aircraft maintenance company based in Shannon.  He is the winner of the Best Undergrad title in the Inventors Competition for his project which aims to reduce turbulence in flying.

To enter the Inventors Competition, applicants were required to submit a one page summary of their invention answering three important questions:

  • So What? 
  • Who Cares?
  • Why would anyone pay for it? 

The competition adjudicators this year were Tom Flanagan, Dr Andy Gray Senior Licensing Executive DIT and Peter Hanna, Managing Partner at Hanna, Moore & Curley. All entries were scored on their originality, benefits, market potential, and development / commercialisation feasibility.

Hothouse is the award winning Innovation and Technology Centre at Dublin Institute of Technology.   Hothouse draws on academic talent and entrepreneurial creativity and provides a dynamic environment to fast-track business and technologies to commercial success.   Hothouse is headed up by Tom Flanagan, Head of Commercialisation at DIT.

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