A new Enterprise Ireland fund will comprise two streams relating to new and existing enterprise clustering, with the closing date for applications on 11 September.
Yesterday (1 July), Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys, TD, launched a new Regional Technology Clustering Fund, which will be administered through Enterprise Ireland.
The launch of the multi-annual competitive fund took place at Dundalk Institute of Technology in Co Louth. With an initial budget of €2.75m, the fund is an initiative of Project Ireland 2040 and aligns with the Department’s Future Jobs Ireland and Enterprise Ireland’s new ‘Powering the Regions’ plan, to build scale and expand the reach of Irish exporting businesses.
This particular fund aims to increase engagement between enterprise and regionally based knowledge providers such as Ireland’s institutes of technology (IoTs) and technical universities. The fund comprises two streams: one for new enterprise clustering and another for existing enterprise clustering. Applications for funding will be open until 11 September 2019.
Humphreys said: “I am delighted to announce a new Regional Technology Clustering Fund to support enterprise in the regions. Many EU countries have already developed cluster policies to strengthen cooperation between industry and research. They have proven to be very successful, so the Government wants to strengthen our activity in this space.”
She continued: “Having visited businesses and communities all over the country, I firmly believe that collaboration is the new competitive advantage, so I hope to see plenty of new relationships developing between higher education institutions and businesses through this fund.”
Mark Christal, manager of regions and entrepreneurship for Enterprise Ireland, said that the plan puts “significant emphasis on collaboration”.
He added: “The fund aims to encourage collaboration between IoTs, industry, and wider academic and enterprise partners in the regions. IoTs have an important role to play in helping companies to respond to the skills challenges faced by SMEs and to assist companies to enhance their capability to win business in international markets.”
The news comes after last week’s announcement (24 June) that the Government would be allocating €45m to boost regional development. This broke down how that funding would be allocated, with up to €5m per project going towards Strategic Change Projects, up to €500,000 per project going to Regional Strengthening Projects and up to €350,000 per project going to Enterprise Clustering Projects.
A Feasibility Fund of up to €15,000 per eligible project was also launched to support the development of these projects, particularly the high-calibre applications encouraged for Strategic Change and Regional Strengthening Projects.
Applications are now open for the above initiatives until 25 September 2019. Awardees can expect to be notified by the end of the year.
Some of the projects funded by the Rural Enterprise Development Fund in the past include an extension to the successful PorterShed incubation centre in Galway, an expansion of the Ludgate Hub in Skibbereen, the Boyne Valley Food Hub in Navan, the Irish bioeconomy pilot facility in Lisheen that became a €28m research campus, and the Emerald Aero Cluster for aerospace manufacturing established in Clare and Limerick.
At the launch of the new Regional Technology Clustering Fund yesterday, Christal concluded: “Developing and supporting regional businesses to build scale and expand reach is a key objective for Enterprise Ireland, particularly with challenges such as Brexit on the horizon.”