Enterprise-led innovation scheme to lend helping hand to Irish SMEs

17 Feb 2022

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With Government investment of €5m, the Innovation Exchange will connect big companies with tech innovators.

A new enterprise-led initiative aims to connect Irish SMEs with global businesses facing digital challenges and address the barriers that exist for small companies engaging with multinationals.

A collaboration between Skillnet Ireland and Dublin Business Innovation Centre (BIC), the Innovation Exchange aims to support up to 300 small businesses this year. It was piloted in 2021 and is now due to be rolled out nationwide following a Government investment of €5m.

Current participants include multinationals Glanbia and IBM, as well as SMEs Tigim, Empeal and Buymedia.

The project aims to provide mutual benefits to both SMEs and large, multinational organisations. Participating SMEs will gain access to new markets, while global businesses will be able to leverage Irish talent in areas of digital transformation, such as artificial intelligence, IoT and robotics.

It is expected to bring companies together across key sectors including energy, food, travel, health, education, human resources, logistics and compliance.

Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris, TD, is launching the scheme today (17 February) at the Guinness Enterprise Centre in Dublin.

Michael Culligan, CEO of Dublin BIC, described the Innovation Exchange as “an ambitious initiative for ambitious businesses”.

“By developing the structures and processes to make innovation partnerships work, the Innovation Exchange will see Irish SMEs bring their groundbreaking solutions to some of the largest corporate businesses in Ireland,” he explained.

“Not only does this relationship offer solutions to multinational businesses, but it has the ability to help SMEs in charting a course toward expansion, scale and success.”

Paul Healy, chief executive of Skillnet Ireland, added the scheme perfectly captures “the spirit of collaboration that lies within the Irish business ecosystem”.

“As a talent development agency, Skillnet Ireland is committed to supporting businesses at both ends of the scale … Through the Innovation Exchange, and in partnership with Dublin BIC, we are connecting ambitious SME leaders with some of the leading global organisations based in Ireland with the common goal of boosting innovation and competitiveness.”

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Blathnaid O’Dea was a Careers reporter at Silicon Republic until 2024.