In a three-year project that will create 90 jobs, as well as helping to maintain existing jobs in the SME sector in border counties, the Regional Development Centre at Dundalk Institute of Technology (DKIT) is partnering with University of Ulster and University of Glasgow in a cross-border innovation initiative sponsored by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB).
Here in the Republic of Ireland, the ICE (Innovation for Competitive Enterprise) will concentrate on counties Cavan, Donegal, Leitrim, Louth, Monaghan and Sligo.
As well as this, all counties in Northern Ireland and the regions of Lochaber, Skye & Lochalsh, Arran & Cumbrae, Argyll & Bute, Dumfries & Galloway, South Ayrshire, East Ayrshire and North Ayrshire mainland will benefit from the project.
This €2.5m initiative is aiming to undertake intensive innovation strategies, while working with 90 companies with a view to increasing their turnover by at least 10pc.
The goal is to include on average three people from each of the participating companies in the initiative.
“ICE is timely and particularly relevant in the current economic climate,” said Irene McCausland, external services manager with Dundalk IT (DkIT)
“Small and medium enterprises have tremendous potential to help lay the foundations for economic recovery and this is especially true in the border region, as well as in Northern Ireland and western Scotland where there is an established culture of entrepreneurship.
“Their business prospects will improve as they gain a competitive edge by innovating across all their operations.”
McCausland went on to explain that the goal of increasing revenue by at least 10pc will be implemented by changing or introducing new business models, as well as products.
“In addition, we will work with them on opening new market segments or niches, while a sustainable network of companies will be fostered to allow for future exchange visits,” she added.
“The approach will be very much one of ‘learning by doing’,” said McCausland.
By Marie Boran
Pictured: Dundalk Institute of Technology