Donegal County Council has welcomed this weeks announcement from the Special EU Programmes Body that approximately €16.6m has been offered under the EU’s INTERREG VA Programme to develop the Research & Innovation capacity of over 1,400 SMEs on a cross-border basis, through the ‘Co-Innovate’ project.
The funding offer is the first to be announced under the European Union’s INTERREG VA Programme. Upon completion the project will increase the proportion of SMEs and micro-businesses involved in cross-border R&I collaboration within Northern Ireland, Western Scotland and the Border Region of Ireland from 22% to 33%.
InterTradeIreland will act as the lead partner for the project, alongside Scottish Enterprise, Highlands & Islands Enterprise and delivery agents Enterprise Northern Ireland and the Local Enterprise office’s based within the Border Region of Ireland.
Michael Tunney from the Donegal Local Enterprise Office in Donegal County Council welcomes this announcement saying “the Local Enterprise Offices have been working with our partners, particularly the Local Enterprise Agencies within the Enterprise Northern Ireland Network and InterTrade Ireland, on this project over the past two years”.
He added “the project is focussed on developing and driving innovation in small and micro businesses and aims to identify how this can be done in each business. The project will be an additional support to small businesses in Donegal and we will seek to integrate it into our current suite of supports to maximise its impact. We hope that through the Co-Innovates programme that up to 80 Donegal businesses will be able to engage in the first stage of the project and that from these a strong cohort will be brought forward to the second stage.”
With five distinct strands the project will provide education and capability support tailored to the needs of all participating SMEs and micro-businesses. It will deliver 469 separate innovation audits to support new product and process development and will give SMEs and micro-businesses access to up to 70 ‘innovation interns’ to help implement enhanced R&I activity.
The project will also increase the number of businesses actively participating in cross-border, transnational or interregional research projects.
Match-funding for ‘Co-Innovate’ has been provided by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation in Ireland, the Department for the Economy in Northern Ireland and Scottish Enterprise alongside Highlands and Islands Enterprise.