1,000 firms make use of State’s Innovation Vouchers

1 Sep 2010

More than 1,000 SMEs from around Ireland have made use of the Government’s €5,000 innovation vouchers to enable them to conduct R&D and resolve business and technical problems, it emerged this morning.

The Minister for Science, Technology and Innovation, Conor Lenihan TD, marked the 1,000th innovation voucher milestone at an event in the Government’s indigenous job creation agency, Enterprise Ireland.

Enterprise Ireland manages the innovation voucher initiative on behalf of the Government.

The innovation voucher enables small firms to access skills, knowledge and specialist facilities in Government-funded research institutions.

Small Irish firms are now working with research teams in more than 41 research institutions – or so-called knowledge providers – across the island.

Voucher project numbers

Waterford Institute of Technology has completed 144 innovation voucher projects since the initiative was launched three years ago.

The Institute of Technology Carlow has completed 70 projects, University College Cork has completed 68 projects, Athlone Institute of Technology has completed 65 projects and Cork Institute of Technology has completed 58 projects.

Lenihan paid tribute to WIT and presented awards to the top 5 knowledge providers. He said the vouchers were an important early bridge between firms and academic researchers.

“The scheme has helped small firms to explore how they can play their part in building the knowledge economy.

“The vouchers have brought firms and researchers together in finding innovative ways to overcome challenges and give products a more competitive and commercial edge for the marketplace.

“The knowledge providers offer valuable advice and expertise to small Irish firms that want to scale their output and compete for business by adopting a more innovative approach,” Lenihan said.

The executive director of Enterprise Ireland, Feargal Ó Móráin, said: “WIT has completed a remarkable level of innovation voucher projects with small companies, helping them to solve business and technical challenges and enabling them to move their business on to the next level through innovative practices.

“Enterprise Ireland is working with all the participating knowledge providers to ensure that small businesses in receipt of an innovation voucher get access to first-class human resources and equipment in 41 locations around Ireland.”

To get an innovation voucher, a firm’s project must require an innovative solution, provide additional value for the company and have ongoing benefits.

The next call for applications opens on 1 October.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years