€16.6m of funding now available for SMEs through the Co-Innovate programme

| September 13, 2017

Co-Innovate Programme

Neil Ryan (Co-Innovate Programme Director), Minister Heather Humphreys TD, Gina McIntyre (Chief Executive SEUPB) and Andrew McCormick (Permanent Secretary, Dept of the Economy) pictured at the launch of the Co-Innovate Programme. 

More than 1,400 SMEs are set to benefit from €16.6 million of new investment aimed at encouraging research and innovation in businesses across Northern Ireland, in the border counties of Ireland and areas of western Scotland.

The five year Co-Innovate project, supported by the European Union’s INTERREG VA programme, managed by the Special EU programmes Body, was launched today in Co Monaghan.

Co-Innovate is focused on increasing the proportion of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and micro-businesses involved in cross-border research and innovation collaboration from 22 per cent to 33 per cent.

It brings together these regions’ key development agencies to deliver a programme aligned with each government’s strategic priorities, led by cross-border body, InterTradeIreland, in partnership with Enterprise Northern Ireland, East Border Region, Local Enterprises Offices in the border region, Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

Welcoming the funding at the Co-Innovate launch, Dr Andrew McCormick, Permanent Secretary for the Department for the Economy, said: “I’m a firm believer in the power of innovation to act as a catalyst for economic growth and prosperity. With Co-Innovate, we have a unique opportunity to drive innovation capacity among our small and medium enterprises.

“SMEs are fundamental to the economy in Northern Ireland, representing 75 per cent of our private sector turnover and employment; significantly more than for the UK as a whole. Co-Innovate will provide practical assistance to our SMEs enabling them to work towards turning innovative thinking into noticeable results which will generate a tangible legacy for years to come.”

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. 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.

Speaking at the launch event, 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.”

Co-Innovate gives companies the tools and tailored support to help businesses innovate, di?erentiate and compete successfully. The programme o?ers 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.

Neil Ryan, Co-Innovate Programme Director, said: “Every company’s innovation needs are di?erent 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.”

Companies in Northern Ireland interested in participating in the programme should visit www.co-innovateprogramme.eu for further information on how to register their interest and a list of free local half day workshops.

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