Minister Breen calls for Irish SMEs and public sector to work together

13 Sep 20174 Shares

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From left: Niall O’Donnellan, head of international services, software, strategy and leadership, Enterprise Ireland; Minister Pat Breen, TD; Maria Gavin, manager, SBIR Ireland; and Enda McDonnell, manager, global sourcing, public procurement, BPO, Enterprise Ireland. Image: Fennell Photography

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Minister Breen has highlighted the need to drive collaboration between SMEs and public sector bodies.

Minister of State for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection Pat Breen, TD, has issued a second call for up to 10 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Ireland competitive challenges at a conference with Enterprise Ireland.

So far this year, Enterprise Ireland has successfully managed the launch of seven SBIR challenges, including a call by Irish Rail to develop a preventative warning systems against rail strikes, and one issued by Dublin Airport to address wildlife activity around its runways.

The competitive challenges aim to increase collaboration between Irish public sector bodies and SMEs in order to come up with unique and innovative solutions to public sector needs, from life sciences and agritech, to renewables and social inclusion schemes.

‘By supporting collaborations between SMEs and the public sector, we are harnessing innovative ideas and developing unique solutions, which will ultimately have positive economic and societal benefits, not only here in Ireland but internationally as well’
– JULIE SINNAMON

Minister Breen made the call at the second SBIR Ireland Proposers Conference today (13 September), attended by procurers and specifiers from across a diverse range of public bodies.

Expressions of interest specific to Irish public bodies will open in October 2017, with Enterprise Ireland co-funding up to €500,000 to cover up to 10 new challenges.

A fantastic initiative for SMEs

Describing the SBIR process as “a fantastic initiative”, Breen discussed the potential for improved efficiency and effectiveness in how public services could be delivered in the future.

He said: “SBIR is particularly suited to small and medium businesses, and I welcome the opportunities this offers to SMEs. The SBIR initiative, which observes best-practice procurement processes, also supports and complements the Government’s research, innovation and enterprise agenda.”

The 2017 challenges to date have spanned a variety of industries and bodies, from Cork County Council’s endeavour to improve the quality of life of elderly, vulnerable and socially excluded people, to a collaboration between Smart Dublin and Grangegorman Development Agency to aid ‘wayfinding’ for those with limited or restricted mobility.

CEO of Enterprise Ireland, Julie Sinnamon, explained how the SBIR initiative was in line with the key focuses of Enterprise Ireland in supporting businesses to start, innovate and scale.

“By supporting collaborations between SMEs and the public sector, we are harnessing innovative ideas and developing unique solutions, which will ultimately have positive economic and societal benefits, not only here in Ireland but internationally as well.”

Ellen Tannam is a writer covering all manner of business and tech subjects

editorial@siliconrepublic.com