Thursday, 5 December 2019

Questions (155)

Robert Troy

Question:

155. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the details of the productivity challenge voucher scheme run by the local enterprise offices; the firm size thresholds to be eligible to apply to the scheme; the current and capital budget allocation for the programme in each year over the 2016 to 2020 period, in tabular form; the number of participants in each year of the programme; and the maximum funding permitted for each successful investment. [50961/19]

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Written answers (Question to Business)

On the 12th July 2019, I announced the LEO Productivity Challenge Fund through the Local Enterprise Office (LEO) Network to support our smallest businesses across the country. The Productivity Challenge is a national programme promoted under your Local Enterprise Office “Making it Happen” campaign which supports Ireland’s small businesses and enterprises, by providing them with the right advice and training resources to enhance productivity and efficiency, identify opportunities in addressing productivity gaps in line with Future Jobs Ireland, embedding “lean” practices, greening their business and in reducing waste.  This initiative will also focus on training and capability development thereby enhancing customer experience, time and performance management.

The fund of €500,000 is primarily aimed at supporting domestically focused small businesses to examine their current operations in order to identify opportunities in addressing productivity gaps, embedding “lean” practices, greening their business and in reducing waste.  This initiative will also focus on training and capability development thereby enhancing customer experience, time and performance management. The scheme, which was opened to applications from the 14th of October is aimed at enterprises with a turnover or balance sheet total of less than €10M and a workforce of fewer than 50 people across a variety of sectors.  Small Irish businesses or enterprises can apply for one of the 200 productivity vouchers valued at €2,500 each, to help them develop a more efficient and productive business operation.  To qualify, businesses should examine their current operations and identify opportunities for addressing productivity gaps or improving efficiency in their business. There is a finite quantity of vouchers, so it is a competition to find the most deserving applicants. The applicant must make a convincing case, demonstrating how their business could make the best use of this funding opportunity.  The productivity challenge aims to increase business productivity in any of the following ways:

- Improve the quality of products

- Reduce delivery times

- Lower the cost of production

- Reduce business waste

- Increase the ability to generate more revenue

The Productivity Voucher aims to improve the quality of what businesses make, reduce the costs of running the business and help deliver more, faster. It will help businesses find new ways to implement more efficient processes, innovative production techniques, improved delivery systems or find new ways to streamline the organisational methods within a business.

The Productivity Voucher can be used in small businesses to engage and leverage experts who can consult with the businesses and help them assess their value chains and operations. This process can cover supply chain management, internal business and production operations, right through to logistics and distribution networks. Additionally, it can be used to Invest in training & capability development. It will support the development of a more effective, capable and efficient workforce through relevant training.

The closing date for applications for The Productivity Challenge Fund was on the 22nd November. An Evaluation Panel is currently reviewing applications against the stated criteria to form a? shortlist of 200 businesses who will be selected to receive a Productivity Voucher worth €2,500.  Successful applicants will be informed prior to year-end 2019 ?by the Local Enterprise Office.