21 investments that will supercharge start-ups across Ireland

4 Dec 2018

Rainbow over Bere Island, Cork. Image: © Dahi/Stock.adobe.com

The second phase of the €60m plan to boost the regions under Project Ireland 2040 has been revealed.

21 entrepreneurial projects from around Ireland have been approved for €29m in Government funding through Enterprise Ireland.

The projects were funded under the second part of the two-round Regional Enterprise Development Fund investment package worth €60m, as part of Project Ireland 2040.

The latest tranche will see a number of key regional projects take off, including the Boyne Valley Food Innovation District in Meath, the Ludgate Innovation Centre in Cork and the Digital Collaboration Centre in Limerick, to name a few.

‘The projects we are funding today are at the cutting edge of innovation’

The winners, consisting of designated activity companies (DACs) and companies limited by guarantee (CLGs), were selected through a rigorous evaluation process based on criteria, which included impacts and value for money, collaboration and participation, viability and sustainability, building regional strengths, and significance for innovation.

“The Irish economy has had a remarkable turnaround in recent years, but we cannot become complacent. Although we have made a lot of progress with three out of five jobs created outside Dublin since we launched the Regional Action Plan for Jobs, some parts of the country are not recovering as quickly as others,” said Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys, TD.

“The Regional Enterprise Development Fund is about supporting every region to build on its unique strengths and ultimately create sustainable jobs. Collaboration is at its core – among the public and private sectors, within and across regions.

“The projects we are funding today are at the cutting edge of innovation. I am confident that they have the potential to make a real and lasting impact on enterprise development at both regional and national level.”

21 regional projects that will boost local economies

Galway: Galway City Innovation District CLG (€2,487,400)

This is a project to support the refurbishment of an existing building and construct on the site three new floors to provide co-working space, private office space and event space for scale-up companies. It will also act as a soft-landing site for foreign direct investment (FDI) companies. Its purpose will be to boost the existing innovation, entrepreneurial and start-up ecosystem, and support a geographically balanced and integrated approach to economic and social development.

Galway: Midc Páirc Na Mara (€2,000,000)

This is a project to develop a market-focused Marine Innovation and Development Centre that will provide 1,800 sq m of enterprise and incubation space for marine enterprises. Through collaboration with regional stakeholders and the higher education institutes, the project will provide specialist training and business development supports, targeting the creation of 200 jobs.

Galway/Clare: The Burren Lowlands CLG (€182,786)

This is a community-focused collaborative project that will develop an enterprise support platform (leveraging third-level expertise, local enterprise office supports etc) to drive business networking, remote working and entrepreneurship development. The project will create a focus point for enterprise activities in a rural setting, aimed at the creation and attraction of alternative employment opportunities.

Cork/Kerry: CIT Consortium Projects DAC (€336,360)

This project aims to increase the number of start-ups coming from the undergraduate student population of the three third-level colleges in the south-west region by extending a current programme, which will be coordinated by a full-time programme manager.

Cork: Ludgate Operations CLG (€1,990,392)

The project will build on the success of the Ludgate Hub and proposes the establishment of a Ludgate Innovation Centre and a series of enterprise supports, including a start-up campus, an education innovation centre and a food tech/agritech innovation centre. It will be housed in a former convent building in Skibbereen.

Cork/Kerry/Waterford/Tipperary: Vista Agri 4.0 Hub CLG (€1,865,215)

This hub is envisaged to empower the next generation of agritech entrepreneurs and escalate the growth path of industry disrupters with a single access source of agritech technical and entrepreneurial innovation. It will target the creation of 190 new jobs in more than 40 businesses, 150 new/improved agritech products and almost €30m per annum in new exports.

Waterford/Wexford/Carlow/Kilkenny/Tipperary: Crystal Valley Tech CLG (€219,919)

This cluster development project will support the growth of the ICT sector in the south-east region, focusing on tech recruitment, business and third-level institute collaboration, and attraction of new investment to the region.

Waterford/Wexford/Carlow/Kilkenny/Tipperary: Incupharm DAC (€799,212)

This project will provide a comprehensive incubation offering to laboratory-based, life sciences start-ups in the south-east. Incupharm will also provide access to a range of business and technical supports available in the region to help maximise the prospects of success for these companies.

Carlow/Kilkenny: National Design Innovation Hub DAC (€1,843,320)

This project will develop a Design Innovation Hub that will enable companies to conceptualise, innovate, build, and test new products and services through critical problem-solving methodologies and the standardisation of the design process as a commercial enabler.

Meath/Cavan/Monaghan/Louth: Boyne Valley Food Innovation District DAC (€1,580,640)

Boyne Valley Food Innovation District will focus on the development of food-grade production facilities and an innovation-rich enterprise support ecosystem to escalate the growth of food and drink entrepreneurs. It also aims to provide economic, physical and networking assets to create the impact of 250 new jobs, 50 new and expanding food businesses, 200 new/improved food and drink products, €25m per annum in new export sales, 900 entrepreneurs and learners with increased competencies, and 60 interns delivering fresh talent and innovation.

Laois: Mountmellick Development Association CLG (€218,200)

Under this project, the Beale Centre for Business Excellence will be a state-of-the-art facility. It will be a physical location in which State agencies, third-level institutions and service providers will work with people starting new and expanding existing businesses. The facility will provide the latest technology along with open plan hotdesks, office pods, meeting and teleconferencing rooms, and state-of-the-art commercial kitchens.

Offaly: Offaly Innovation and Design Centre CLG (€458,240)

Offaly Innovation and Design Centre will be a creative suite located at the Birr Technology Centre. It will provide a central location where research and education meets business, leveraging I-LOFAR, the astrophysics observing facility in Birr Castle. The project provides a unique opportunity to access big data in real time. Services will include hotdesk facilities and office space, IT training facilities and training, industry-focused events, and industry-led research projects (undergraduate and postgraduate).

Limerick/Clare/Tipperary/Cork/Kerry: BNest Social Initiative DAC (€603,400)

This is an initiative that will assist businesses seeking social impact to achieve viability and scale through development programmes, critical service supports and cluster development. By doing so, it will allow innovative ideas with significant potential for societal impact to evolve to sustainable commercial entities.

Clare: Maritime Economic Zone DAC (€1,759,226)

This project, located on the Shannon Estuary, will repurpose an existing site to provide specialist infrastructure and accommodation, making the facility available for maritime and cruise liner-related training as well as a testbed for renewable technologies.

Limerick/Clare/Tipperary: Innovate Limerick Digital Collaboration Centre (€2,279,073)

This project will develop the Digital Collaboration Centre, which aims to position the mid-west region as a hub of applied disruptive technology innovation. The project seeks to narrow the innovation-adoption gap for global and indigenous companies across the region through regional collaborative disruptive technology applications in services and business processes. These will support start-up scaling, high-potential start-up growth and talent attraction.

Dublin: Innovate Dublin Communities CLG (€249,955)

This project will support the creation of the Social Innovation Hub in the Liberties, Dublin city centre, creating a dynamic ecosystem to foster innovation with the next wave of entrepreneurs. It will provide space to design and develop business ideas/offerings, a community living lab to prototype and test products or services in the local market, and an internal market place to undertake a soft launch.

Dublin/mid-east: St Paul’s Area Development Enterprise CLG (€2,094,000)

This project will involve the construction, fitting out and running of an innovative Food Kitchen Incubator, following best international practice for design, operations and value-added services, creating a platform for small food businesses to launch and grow.

Monaghan/Cavan: Bioconnect Innovation Centre CLG (€4,976,880)

This project will support the performance of cutting-edge biotechnology research by companies through the provision of office, laboratory and biotechnology-focused research capabilities for all stages of business development.

Monaghan/Cavan: Focused Engineering Network DAC (€250,000)

The purpose of this project will be to establish an engineering network of companies and local stakeholders to safeguard and further develop the engineering sector in the north-east region. Supported by a business development manager, the initial focus of the network will be to identify and capture supply chain opportunities to drive business growth.

Leitrim/Cavan/Sligo/Donegal: Leitrim Food Enterprise Zone CLG (€953,640)

The aim of this project is to create a food-grade infrastructure and support hotspot in Drumshanbo to drive the clustering and growth of food companies in counties Leitrim, Sligo, Cavan and Donegal. It aims to create 137 new jobs and build a strong national and export sales platform for sustainable, outward-looking growth.

Sligo/Mayo/Leitrim: Sligo County Enterprise Fund CLG (€1,906,640)

This project will see the development of the Strand Campus to operate as a leading location in the region for entrepreneurs in digital gaming and associated tech sectors, providing holistic support for start-up innovation and growth.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years