Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Questions (1004)

Bernard Durkan


1004. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the way in which the new regional innovation and technology clustering initiative will work; the benefits the programme will bring to the regions; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32441/19]

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Written answers (Question to Business)

Under Project Ireland 2040, the Government identified an ambition to build sectoral clusters of Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) at regional level. This ambition will be delivered through initiatives supporting the development of business-led clustering of competitive advantage. As one of the Government initiatives in this area, I secured an initial €2.75 million in Budget 2019 for a multi-annual fund for Regional Technology Clustering.

I was delighted to recently launch the Regional Enterprise Clustering Fund in Dundalk Institute of Technology. The initiative will support regions, and the enterprise base within it, to build on their competitiveness and productivity. Connectivity with, and engagement between, enterprise and regionally based knowledge providers, such as the Institutes of Technology (IoT) / Technological Universities (TU), drives productivity and competitiveness in and across regions.

The fund is being administered by Enterprise Ireland on behalf of my Department and is now open for applications until 3pm on the 11th of September 2019. The fund will be in the form of a competitive fund open to the IoTs / TUs. Applications must be aligned to Project Ireland 2040, the Regional Enterprise Plans and Enterprise Ireland’s Regional Enterprise Strategy and other national enterprise policies.

TUs and IoTs can play a key role in supporting regional enterprise development and the competitiveness of their region. Distributed across every region, they can harness their educational and research expertise to support SMEs and indeed the wider enterprise base. This fund will enable the IoTs / TUs to increase their engagement and connectivity with SMEs through the formation of new one to many engagements informed by the strategic enterprise priorities for the region and by working with existing enterprise clustering.