Food and life sciences SMEs to benefit from a new pilot programme

20 Sep 2018

From left: Dr Silvia Guglielmini, IT Carlow; Gabrielle Carroll, Carlow County Council LEO; and Michael Begley, Tipperary LEO. Image: Dylan Vaughan

Companies in food, drink and life sciences could grow their business through a new pilot programme launching soon.

Tipperary and Carlow-based companies in the business of food, drink and life sciences now have an exciting opportunity to grow their business through a pilot programme targeting SMEs.

The Catalyst programme is due to launch at IT Carlow on 1 October. The launch event is open to companies in the relevant sectors based in both counties. It features expertise from Siobhán Ní Gharbhith of St Tola, John Teeling from Cooley Distillery and Ann Marie McSorley of Veri.

Supporting food, drink and life sciences SMEs

Catalyst supports food and drink producers, food retailers, and the food service industry – including logistics and distribution – as well as businesses in the life sciences, including pharmaceuticals, biomedical, cosmeceuticals and more.

A carefully selected core group of successful applicants will receive expert guidance, mentoring and support. The initiative also offers successful applicants help in the development of new products and advice on how best to bring those products to market.

Applicants will get the chance to network across industry sectors and with SMEs in Wales. Partners in the pilot programme include Carlow County Council and Tipperary County Council as well as IT Carlow’s Designcore. The lead partner is University of Wales Trinity Saint David and the fifth and final partner is Wrap Cymru, a leader in sustainable waste policy.

EU-funded scheme

The three-year project is funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Ireland Wales Cooperation Programme 2014-2020.

Chief executive of Carlow County Council, Kathleen Holohan, said: “Catalyst has already established a network of leading business mentors in key areas such as product development, communications and resource efficiency, and the hands-on team is keen to help in key challenge areas such as sustainable development and design thinking; research and development, supporting the creation of new and sustainable products and processes; and more.”

The programme is unique in that it combines practical, one-to-one learning with specialised, theme-based network training events, with options for demand-led, short-term, cross-border residencies. It involves business owners, industry experts and academics devising innovative solutions to business challenges, said Tipperary County Council head of enterprise, Rita Guinan.

IT Carlow’s Designcore president, Dr Patricia Mulcahy, said: “Catalyst is a unique programme for SMEs who want to explore business challenges and elaborate innovative, highly marketable solutions. Catalyst also offers the opportunity to expand business networks, exchange knowledge, and develop new insights from industry and academia.”

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects