Government launches €5m fund for social innovation non-profits

13 May 2020

From left: Joan Ellison, project and office manager of We Make Good; and Deirdre Mortell, CEO of Social Innovation Fund Ireland. Image: Marc O’Sullivan

The fund will offer cash grants starting at €20,000 as well as business support packages to non-profits acting in response to the Covid-19 crisis.

Today (13 May), the Government announced a €5m commitment to the Innovate Together Fund, a new fund that supports social innovation non-profits acting in response to the Covid-19 crisis.

The fund will focus on supporting emerging innovations that address current and long-term social, economic and environmental challenges. Government support from the fund comes from the Department of Rural and Community Development, through the support of the Dormant Accounts Fund.

Social Innovation Fund Ireland, led by Deirdre Mortell, has also pledged to raise additional funds and has called on companies, foundations, families and individuals to donate to this initiative.

Medtech company Medtronic, which has been ramping up production of ventilators in Galway to treat Covid-19 patients, has donated €70,000 through its charity, the Medtronic Foundation. The charity is dedicated to improving health among underserved populations and supporting communities worldwide.

The Innovate Together Fund

The new fund will offer cash grants starting at €20,000, as well as a business supports package and a place on its online accelerator programme, which will be conducted through webinars.

Terence O’Rourke, chair of Social Innovation Fund Ireland and Enterprise Ireland, said: “Just as we need to invest in innovation for our economic recovery and for job creation, we must invest in social innovation to address critical social issues.

“We now call on the business community to come together and back the unprecedented response of the charity sector to this crisis. Whether big or small, multinational or indigenous, we are asking you to donate to this initiative and to build on the Government commitment of €5m.

“Now is our chance to collaborate and invest in the social innovations contributing to a recovery that can and must be inclusive, equal and sustainable.”

The Innovate Together Fund will seek applications from “innovative” projects across the country in areas such as online education, the circular economy and community outreach.

The fund aims to support initiatives providing primary and post-primary students with access to technology and other supports such as study spaces in the home, and mentoring for parents, students and teachers, as well as youth mental health interventions.

In terms of the circular economy, the fund is looking to support solutions for the efficient re-use and recycling of materials, as well as those that improve food security and increase independent food production to reduce the need for imports.

Finally, the fund’s work in community outreach will look at new ways to reach and support vulnerable and marginalised groups, while re-skilling the workforce during a shift in the economy. There will also be support for online medical and physical health innovations.

Applications for funding can be made here.

Kelly Earley was a journalist with Silicon Republic