3 Irish projects awarded up to €3.6m in EU funding

16 Jul 2021

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The EIT is funding 23 HEI action plans to enhance their entrepreneurial and innovation capacity, with three projects helmed by Ireland.

Enterprise Ireland and the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) have announced funding awards of up to €3.6m for proposals led by three Irish higher-education institutes (HEIs).

Dublin City University (DCU), NUI Galway and IT Sligo will all receive funding to lead activities under a pilot call for proposals to enhance their entrepreneurial and innovation capacity.

The initiative is a joint EIT Community activity coordinated by EIT Raw Materials.

The pilot call for proposals invited European HEIs to design institution-wide action plans.

By supporting such activities, this new EIT initiative aims to create systemic impact, empowering HEIs to become regional engines of innovation and foster sustainable growth and jobs across Europe.

The EIT is part of the innovative Europe pillar of Horizon Europe, the €95.5bn EU framework programme for research and innovation.

This call will fund 23 pilot projects to be implemented between 2021 and 2023.

The total maximum budget per project is €1.2m, broken down as follows: €400,000 for phase one (July-December 2021) and €800,000 for phase two (January 2022-July 2023).

In total, there is Irish participation in nine of the 23 consortia awarded funding.

“Enterprise Ireland welcomes this announcement by EIT. It is a great success for Ireland and is testament to the capability and talent within the Irish research and innovation system,” said Garrett Murray, national director for Horizon Europe at Enterprise Ireland.

“Higher-education institutions play a critical role in the development and growth of regional innovation ecosystems. The successful applicants, working with their partners and the EIT, will be able to enhance their entrepreneurial capability and support companies to innovate and scale.”

Murray also highlighted that the EIT will be issuing a new call for its culture and creativity partnership in October 2021.

IT Sligo proposed to establish a new cross-European scale-up network through a group of 14 organisations. “Our project with our Risen alliance partners will support 120 SMEs to move to the next stage of growth over two years,” said Chris O’Malley, vice-president of research, innovation and engagement at IT Sligo.

“They will be supported by a peer mentor network and be given access to expertise from the EIT and the partner universities in developing their strategy to get there.”

O’Malley highlighted that an innovative feature within this initiative is that the SMEs can submit their plans for an academic award.

As their network spans member states including Italy, Hungary and Finland, there is a capacity for accelerated international growth.

Meanwhile, Idea to Impact (i2i) is the proposal led by NUI Galway. The goal of the i2i consortium is to address its capacity and capability to foster entrepreneurial thinking and actions.

By connecting five HEIs, three intermediary organisations, and eight associated partners in five entrepreneurial ecosystems, the project aims to develop entrepreneurship capital and an aptitude for driving innovation.

Finally, DCU will helm the Smart-2M project. This proposal is focused on empowering innovators and entrepreneurs to develop solutions to industry 4.0 and smart manufacturing challenges while creating growth and skilled jobs.

With partners in Italy, Serbia, France and Greece, it will also draw on a collective research centre in Belgium to represent a European network of institutions.

Enterprise Ireland highlighted that there were still remaining opportunities under the programme for Irish researchers and that the national contact points in Enterprise Ireland and across the Horizon Europe national support network could provide additional information and guidance.

Sam Cox is a journalist at Silicon Republic covering sci-tech news

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