Innovation Vouchers scheme gets under way

3 Jul 2007

Clonakilty-based Applied Thermal Imagery was the first company to receive a €5,000 Innovation Voucher from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment yesterday as part of the Government’s €10m fund for small enterprises.

Some 194 small companies will receive vouchers as the Enterprise Ireland-managed initiative enters phase two. The vouchers are designed to assist small Irish firms become more innovative.

Companies in receipt of vouchers can exchange them for advice and expertise from any one of the 21 participating knowledge providers, drawn mainly from Ireland’s third-level institutions.

Firms can also pool vouchers to leverage the value of the knowledge they can purchase from the institutions.

Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Micheal Martin TD commented: “Support for innovation, particularly in small companies, is essential in developing Ireland’s knowledge economy. There is a vast amount of creativity in our small business community that, when matched with the right technical and business solutions in our research community, will improve the efficiency, productivity and competitiveness of participating companies, and in turn the Irish economy. I encourage all small companies in Ireland to apply for one of the 200 Innovation Vouchers available in phase two.”

James Connolly, managing director of Applied Thermal Imagery, said: “We intend to use this voucher to improve our knowledge of thermal imaging and heat loss in construction projects, which we believe will help to strengthen our competitiveness. This initiative is a great way to give companies like ours the opportunity to work with researchers in the third level sector.”

Providing Innovation Vouchers is part of the Government’s overall drive to help small Irish firms become more competitive using technology. It was announced late last year along with two other incentives: the ICT Audits programme and the Knowledge Acquisition Grants scheme.

By Niall Byrne