Thursday, 11 March 2004

Questions (62)

Olwyn Enright

Question:

59 Ms Enright asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the action she intends to take to support small to medium sized indigenous industry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8015/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Enterprise)

Enterprise Ireland has primary responsibility for the development of indigenous small and medium sized enterprises — SMEs — in the manufacturing and internationally traded services sectors. Enterprise Ireland delivers a flexible set of solutions tailored to the needs of individual Irish enterprises. Each client company is assigned a development adviser who works with the company in assessing its needs and capabilities, formulating an agreed growth plan and in assisting the company access the range of services and resources it needs to execute that plan. The plan is based on the holistic principle that all aspects of a business should be addressed by a company in order for it to achieve accelerated profitable growth.

Companies will achieve success through a balanced development that builds strength across six key elements: research and development, marketing, finance, human resources, production and business strategy. Enterprise Ireland provides both financial and non-financial support to client companies in this regard.

Enterprise Ireland aims to support SMEs which wish to expand through increased export activity. In response to client demand, Enterprise Ireland has put in place a range of new initiatives geared towards clients developing export markets for the first time, for example, in-market mentors, training workshops, market visits, winning sales seminars etc. Overseas support is primarily provided through Enterprise Ireland's extensive overseas office network.

Enterprise Ireland has also put in place a range of supports aimed at specific priority areas. In May 2003, it launched the competitiveness fund, a €10 million fund established to build the competitiveness of SMEs. The final call for proposals under the fund closed on 6 February 2004 with more than €7.5 million already committed to Irish firms. In addition to supporting in-company applied research and development, a key focus for Enterprise Ireland is to increase the rate of commercialisation of research emerging from research institutes, thus leading to new product and process innovation being embedded in indigenous companies. This is being facilitated by the establishment of incubator centres and webworks being created around the third level sector.

Enterprise Ireland, in conjunction with the private sector, has also developed a range of seed and venture capital funds, in many cases dedicated to specific emerging technologies or focused on business development in the regions outside of Dublin. Enterprise Ireland will continue to address client demands and to provide a range of supports aimed at assisting client companies to expand and compete in the international marketplace.