InterTradeIreland is offering up to €200k each to companies, north and south, to encourage cross-border research and development (R&D).
Under a pilot initiative, known as Innova, the fund will support industrial research for blue-skies opportunities and pre-competitive development activities for near-to-market opportunities.
Maximum grant aid rates, which comply with EU R&D guidelines, will vary between 40pc and 50pc of eligible expenditure depending on the size of the company, its location and the type of research being undertaken. Up to 45pc of the cost of an R&D project will be granted to large firms throughout Ireland, whereas 50pc of the cost of the R&D project will be granted to SMEs in the Border, Midlands and Western region as well as the rest of Ireland.
Items eligible for funding under the programme include personnel costs, travel costs, costs of consultancy, materials and equipment costs. The funding is envisaged to cover a two-year R&D project.
Each proposal must involve at least one company from Northern Ireland and one from the South, and eligible companies are those founded on R&D as well as those developing their R&D activity.
The companies making the joint application should be independent of each other financially and in terms of controlling interests.
As well as this, consortium agreements covering intellectual property ownership, commercial exploitation, manufacturing or marketing issues must be pre-agreed amongst the partners in order to qualify.
One consortium involving a company in Cork and a company in Belfast has already qualified for the full €400k worth of funding. Luxcel Biosciences from Cork and Fusion Antibodies of Belfast are combining their technology to provide labelled antibodies that can be visualised during increasingly widespread fluorescent assays. This is envisaged to have benefits in terms of the detection and treatment of many diseases, including cancer.
Jim Johnston of Fusion Antibodies explained: “We’re two companies with particular skills and good ideas but in the absence of financing, the ideas won’t go very far. Obviously, treatments for cancer are improving but it is still a major problem and there is still a huge amount of work required in this area.”
Richard Fernandes, CEO and co-founder of Luxcel, added. “The collaboration is about the companies developing a new commercially viable product … The high-technology environment we operate in is extremely competitive; the funding from the Innova programme allows us to get our product to market more quickly.”
By John Kennedy