The funding this new accelerator provides could help Irish firms respond more quickly to market opportunities and challenges such as Brexit.
Today (23 November), Enterprise Ireland launched a new fast-track Agile Innovation Fund.
The fund will allow companies to access up to 50pc in support for product, process or service development projects with a total cost of up to €300,000.
It is designed to aid companies in the development of these projects for new market opportunities and to maximise export performance.
A survey of 2,000 Enterprise Ireland clients in 2016 revealed that those who availed of innovation supports – specifically capability, funding and collaboration support – reported an average of 67pc growth in global sales.
Enterprise Ireland has designed the fund to best meet the needs of Irish companies, with services including: substantial financial support for innovation, localisation and product development, a streamlined online application, and a fast-track approval process.
Enterprise Ireland boosting global performance
An Tánaiste and Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Frances Fitzgerald, TD, was at the launch of the fund, and said: “Innovation is a proven source of advantage and a driver of competitiveness and global performance for companies.
“Enterprise Ireland’s Agile Innovation Fund will help deliver on the Innovation 2020 action of optimising enterprise innovation supports and increasing their accessibility to firms.”
Julie Sinnamon, Enterprise Ireland CEO, mentioned the need for innovation, given the current political climate. “In the context of Brexit, investment in Irish innovation will prove to be a key driver of global growth for Irish companies, helping them to diversify their product base, be competitive, and allow them to build their scale and reach into new markets.”
Sinnamon added that historically, Enterprise Ireland client companies that have received funding specific to innovation have seen tangible exponential growth in their global sales performance.
Innovation as a business driver
Paul Stack, operations director at Marco Beverage Systems, is a previous recipient of Enterprise Ireland R&D funding. He said: “I wouldn’t just suggest that other Irish companies conduct R&D – I would consider it to be absolutely critical.
“Enterprise Ireland funding can really drive the innovation agenda forward within a company.”
He said that for Marco Beverage Systems, Enterprise Ireland’s funding for one product generated platform technologies that could be used in others, and this innovation “transformed our brand awareness and opened new markets”.
Stack’s said R&D is not just a springboard to get a product to market. “A reputation for innovation also increases your brand value and drives sales all by itself.”
In his view, the grant drove the culture of innovation within the business, and has shown demonstrable results. 80pc of Marco’s products are exported, up from 69pc just three years ago.
A number of other Irish companies – including Cartoon Saloon, Alpha Wireless and Ventac – have also successfully availed of R&D funding via Enterprise Ireland.