€19m in Funding Opportunities Unveiled for Innovators and Researchers in Northern and Western Region

The Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Simon Coveney TD,, in collaboration with Enterprise Ireland, has launched two new funding programs, Innovators Initiative and KT Boost, aimed at supporting Irish innovators and researchers.  

These programs have a total regional funding of over €19M and are co-funded by the Government of Ireland and the European Union through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) which aims to promote economic, social and territorial cohesion across all European regions.   

The Managing Authorities for the ERDF in Ireland are the Northern & Western Regional Assembly and the Southern Regional Assembly. 

Innovators Initiative 

The Innovators Initiative is designed to develop five immersive, needs-led innovation training programs, with a regional budget of €5.04m allocated for the Northern and Western Region.  

This training will attract high calibre individuals and inter-disciplinary teams who, through their immersion and identification of needs in these environments – via the use of a design methodology – will be supported to generate new product and process ideas, new IP and in some cases, supported to create of high-potential-startups (HPSUs). On completion of a programme, participants can return to their sectors with the accrued benefits of their new skills and training or can form new start-up teams.  

The Innovators’ Initiative programmes will be hosted in Irish publicly funded Research Performing Organisations (RPOs) – mainly third level institutions – or within a consortia of RPOs. Applications are now being sought from publicly funded RPOs from areas of sectoral importance to Ireland.  

Successfully awarded programmes will each focus on a specific sector of national or regional importance and will augment the industrial strength and research capability of the region in which the programme is to be based.  

KT Boost 

The KT Boost program is a four-year knowledge transfer funding program focused on increasing research commercialization outcomes in Irish universities and technological universities, with a regional budget of €14.4m allocated for the Northern and Western Region.  

KT Boost will be managed by Knowledge Transfer Ireland (KTI), on behalf of Enterprise Ireland and the ERDF. KTI is the national office responsible for making the process of engaging with public research and of research commercialisation more simple and straightforward. It helps business to benefit from access to Irish expertise and technology by making it easier to connect and engage with the research base in Ireland. 

KT Boost will focus on bolstering capacity and capability within the Knowledge Transfer Offices, also known as Technology Transfer Offices at Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) so as to further support knowledge transfer activities, outputs and performance.  The programme succeeds the Enterprise Ireland Technology Transfer Strengthening Initiative (TTSI) – which has run since 2007 – and invested more than €88million into the development and strengthening of Ireland’s knowledge transfer and research commercialisation system, to date. 

Simon Coveney TD, Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, said: “These two new funding programmes, which are worth €63M combined, signal a major vote of confidence for both innovation and research in Ireland. We have a very strong and well-earned reputation for our capabilities in research, innovation and knowledge transfer, and this will enable us to build further on that success.

I very much welcome that the funding programmes will be targeted both nationally and regionally at sectors and organisations, where growth will be identified and subsequently supported and generated. I would like to acknowledge the important role of the ERDF in co-funding these initiatives alongside the Government.”

Marina Donohue, Head of Research and Innovation at Enterprise Ireland, said: “These funding programmes build on the extensive range of Enterprise Ireland supports already available for Irish research, innovation and knowledge transfer. The programmes will enable those active in this space to investigate, establish and develop new ideas. Both initiatives will accelerate the development of innovation capability in Irish enterprise across all regions and we look forward to supporting the projects involved.”

Donal Gilroy, chairperson of the Northern and Western Regional Assembly’s SPA North Committee, welcomed the two new funding schemes, which are part of a €217 million investment in the Northern and Western Region, co-funded by the ERDF and the Irish Government. He stated that these schemes will contribute towards developing a smarter, more competitive North and West of Ireland.

Overall, the two funding programs are worth €63M nationally and represent a significant investment in research, innovation, and knowledge transfer in Ireland.