Publications: Science Omega Review Europe Issue 2

Enterprise Ireland and the Irish SMEs embracing innovation

Grafton Street Dublin
The key research and innovation priority for Ireland’s Presidency of the European Council 2013 has been to achieve political agreement on all the measures within Horizon 2020 (2014-20), the EU programme for research and innovation, and successor to FP7. 
Dr Imelda Lambkin
Dr Imelda Lambkin, National Director of FP7 at Enterprise Ireland, explores the assistance available for the businesses and SMEs that form the backbone of the Irish economy...

This century has been full of innovation. New technologies, new products, new services and whole new industries have emerged. Yet the call for innovation in business has never been more intense. It is a hugely challenging and competitive time for businesses, so what is Ireland doing in this space?

Enterprise Ireland is the Irish government agency charged with developing and promoting Irish enterprise. It partners with entrepreneurs, businesses, and the research and investment communities to develop Ireland’s international trade, innovation, leadership and competitiveness. The ultimate objectives are increased exports, employment and prosperity in Ireland. Enterprise Ireland is also the agency responsible for helping Irish companies and researchers to participate in the EU’s 7th Framework Programme (FP7).

The key research and innovation priority for Ireland’s Presidency of the European Council 2013 has been to achieve political agreement on all the measures within Horizon 2020 (2014-20), the EU programme for research and innovation, and successor to FP7. Horizon 2020 can play a decisive role in helping to create jobs, growth and the European economy of the future. The programme seeks to secure major investment in key technologies, bridging the gap between research and the market, and promoting real commercial partnerships between member states and the private sector. Linking in with other EU programmes, it aims to increase participation by SMEs from 15 per cent to 20 per cent in Horizon 2020.

SMEs have in recent years proved themselves to be the engines of economic growth and the principle sources of new employment. They are the backbone of the Irish economy and key contributors to growth and employment. SMEs make up over 99 per cent of businesses in the enterprise economy in Ireland and account for almost 70 per cent of people employed.

Their ability to exploit new technologies, and to respond quickly to changing market needs, gives SMEs a pivotal role in the success of the Irish economy. Support for the creation of new ventures and spin-offs from research institutions and large companies, as well as the removal of barriers to their rapid growth and support for the transfer of know-how, also deserve to be afforded the highest priority.

Enterprise Ireland’s client companies achieved record levels of exports in 2012. Total export figures, at €16.2bn, were the highest ever annual export gain achieved by Enterprise Ireland clients. Driving this is research and innovation; for many of our client companies, science and technology is what they are all about – it’s in their DNA. For others, innovation is a tool they will employ more strategically, for example, for new product development, to make manufacturing or business processes more efficient or to respond to disruptive waves.

This is why innovation is at the heart of everything Enterprise Ireland does – providing financial incentives from €5,000 Innovation Vouchers to suit a smaller company beginning their journey on the road of innovation, right through to support for major R&D; projects from larger companies, involving investment in the million-plus category.

In the words of Minister of State for Small Business John Perry TD: "Innovation is one of the key strategic advantages that Irish companies can harness to gain a competitive edge and win in world markets." Enterprise Ireland is committed to helping companies get a foot on the innovation ladder.


Dr Imelda Lambkin
National Director of FP7
Enterprise Ireland

www.enterprise-ireland.com


[This article was originally published on 1st July 2013 as part of Science Omega Review Europe 02]


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