The Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys TD, has today launched the Co-Innovate programme.
Co-Innovate aims to increase the number of small and medium enterprises (SMEs)involved in research and innovation across the border region of Ireland, including Donegal, Cavan, Leitrim, Louth, Monaghan and Sligo as well as Northern Ireland and parts of western Scotland, from 22 per cent to 33 per cent over the next five years.
The initiative gives companies the tools and tailored support to help businesses innovate, diﬀerentiate and compete successfully. The programme oﬀers graduated levels of support including free workshops, individual business health checks, detailed innovation audits, sectoral networks, project management placements and one-to-one expert mentoring.
The five year, €16.6 million project is the first funding offer to be announced under the EU’s INTERREG VA Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body. It is one of 60 funding programmes across the European Union that have been designed to help overcome issues that arise from the existence of borders
Launching Co-Innovate, Minister Humphreys, said: “This is a very positive development for SMEs in our border counties. Supporting SMEs is a key strategic priority for the government and it’s crucial we continue to encourage and nurture innovation.
“Initiatives like Co-Innovate are central to this goal, providing one-to-one help and mentoring for smaller companies to help embed a culture of innovation in their businesses. I would like to acknowledge the work and contribution of the partnership of organisastions that have come together to establish this important funding programme for the border region.”
Match-funding for Co-Innovate has been provided by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation in Ireland, the Department for the Economy in Northern Ireland, Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise.
Speaking at the launch event in Monaghan, Gina McIntyre Chief Executive Officer of the Special EU Programmes Body, said: “The Co-Innovate project will allow the region to make a significant contribution to the achievement of the European Union’s 2020 target of increased investment in research and innovation.
“The region, as a whole, is still characterised by low levels of innovation activity. Cross-border co-operation can however be used to help address this issue, by encouraging new partnerships between business and relevant research institutions. By working together through the Co-Innovate project, on a cross-border basis, participating businesses will become ‘innovation active’ and thereby more competitive and profitable.”
Neil Ryan, Co-Innovate Programme Director, said: “Every company’s innovation needs are diﬀerent so each company’s journey through Co-Innovate will be unique. Over 1,400 businesses will receive support at Co-Innovate workshops over the next number of years. These workshops are aimed at demystifying innovation and helping firms understand how it can drive their company’s growth and profitability.
“Companies who complete our workshops and subsequent assessments will be selected to take part in advanced programme supports. These advanced supports are designed to help develop detailed innovation delivery plans: bringing ideas to fruition.”
Co-Innovate brings together the three regions’ key development agencies to deliver a programme aligned with each government’s strategic priorities, led by cross-border body, InterTradeIreland, in partnership with Local Enterprise Offices in the border region, Enterprise Northern Ireland, East Border Region, Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise.
A series of free, half day, regional workshops are being organised to demystify innovation and help companies understand how it can drive business forward. Those interested in attending must first register and check their eligibility at www.co-innovateprogramme.eu/ci/eligibility-criteria/
For more information on The Co-Innovate Programme, please visit www.co-innovateprogramme.eu/Tags: