Could your start-up make Government online services more accessible?

3 May 2018

Could your team help improve government online services? Image: crazystocker/Shutterstock

The Irish Government wants to collaborate with start-ups to create more innovative online services.

Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe, TD, has published an invitation to tender for companies to find ways to improve accessibility and access to the wide variety of online Government services in Ireland. The tender is looking particularly at the main Government website (

Access for those with different needs

There are lots of people in the country who may need extra assistance when it comes to finding and using digital public services and the Government seeks to find innovative ways to apply technologies like AI and machine learning to help improve the experience for these users.

This new venture is part of the eGovernment Strategy 2017-2020, which stresses the importance of inclusion and the need to cater for people with different needs and capabilities.

Enterprise Ireland launched the call with the Government through the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer. The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) programme, administered by Enterprise Ireland, allows the public sector to link in with innovative ideas and technology businesses and provide accessibility solutions for public services.

Boosting citizen participation

Minister Donohoe said: “I’m delighted to work with Enterprise Ireland on this innovative project to enable the widest level of participation in digital government by our people. I am aware that previous SBIR programmes, in particular by local authorities, including Smart Dublin, have helped Irish start-ups to become established and develop products that are ready to be commercialised.”

Minister of State Patrick O’Donovan, TD, said the Government was looking forward to collaborating with the Irish start-up ecosystem and other providers on this project. He noted that the scheme “offers an attractive opportunity for Irish companies, of any size, to access some initial funding to support the development of products in the potentially very lucrative artificial intelligence arena”.

SBIR Ireland connecting businesses with Government

Julie Sinnamon, CEO of Enterprise Ireland, said: “Enterprise Ireland’s SBIR initiative connects SMEs to opportunities within public bodies. This particular SBIR Challenge is about harnessing the power of artificial intelligence to develop innovative solutions to meet the needs and challenges of service delivery, and to improve accessibility of services within the public sector.”

Barry Lowry, Government chief information officer, said that this SBIR project would help the Government evaluate different ways in which technology like AI can benefit users of public services.

He said the scheme aims to “enable more of our citizens and customers engage in digital government, regardless of age, location, or ability”.

“We believe the public service can use this opportunity to showcase real customer-driven service development and underpin Ireland’s leading position as an exemplar for e-government participation,” he added.

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects