A wide range of programmes are being delivered by the Enterprise Agencies — Enterprise Ireland, IDA Ireland and Science Foundation Ireland, to promote research and development and innovation and give Irish enterprise a competitive edge in the global market place.
Enterprise Ireland in particular, has a range of programmes and soft supports focusing on research, and development and innovation to facilitate and support businesses to compete sustainably in international markets. Information on all supports for research and development is available on the websites of Enterprise Ireland, Science Foundation Ireland and the County Enterprise Boards.
Enterprise Ireland are engaged is a number of specific opportunities to assist the SME sector to avail of its support programmes. For example, through the Enterprise Europe Network which includes Enterprise Ireland and the Chambers of Commerce of Cork, Dublin, Galway, Sligo and Waterford, Enterprise Ireland produced a new on-line directory of innovation supports to assist companies and their advisers in sourcing the various forms of support required to promote innovation and R&D. This new directory was promoted through a series of workshops and seminars held in the various regions. The new directory is now available through the internationally co-ordinated Enterprise Europe Network website.
Enterprise Ireland has appointed 19 Advocates whose role will be to assist companies in formulating projects to develop their business through innovation and R&D. This follows on from previous successful Advocate programmes which have assisted companies to identify their best options for development of new products, processes and services.
The Industry Research and Development Group (IRDG) Innovation Network, supported by Enterprise Ireland, has been undertaking a range of successful seminars around the country including seminars on R&D Tax Credits (including a workshop on Audits), an event devoted to Services Innovation in Waterford and promotion of collaboration through the "Supporting Business In The Mid-West" seminar held at the University of Limerick. This seminar was designed to highlight the benefits of collaboration with Higher Education Institutes for businesses in the Mid-West.
The Irish Software Innovation Network (ISIN), funded by Enterprise Ireland and managed by the Irish Software Association (ISA), offers a free matchmaking and knowledge-brokering service to help software companies to identify and engage with relevant third-level research institutes.
As part of the Action Plan for Jobs Enterprise Ireland is actively working with IDA Ireland to attract 100 companies to avail of R&D tax credits for the first time. The preliminary work involves the development of an updated R&D tax credit brochure, which will be jointly issued by the two agencies later this year. The next stage will involve a series of agency workshops which will promote an understanding and use of "R&D tax credits".
Research and development support programmes and initiatives will continue to be delivered by the enterprise agencies in support of Irish businesses in order to drive growth, sustainability, exports and job creation. My department and its enterprise agencies will continue to promote the application of research and development and innovation to gain competitive advantage and to build on the strengths that have emerged from the investment to date in Science Technology and Innovation.