Driving balanced regional enterprise development is a priority in the Programme for Government and also a core goal of the enterprise agencies.
Enterprise Ireland works with approximately 660 client companies in the North East and North West regions with employment of almost 25,000 in 2020 and direct Government funding of €39 million between 2018 to 2020.
The Border Enterprise Development Fund was launched in 2020 as part of the July Stimulus Package with 11 projects approved funding of €17.2million to date. To stimulate economic activity and create jobs, 37 Community Enterprise Centres and 3 Campus Incubation Centres in the Border region have also received assistance. Enterprise Ireland also collaborates with Invest NI in the development of enterprise on the island of Ireland.
IDA Ireland’s work in the Border Regions includes a focus on cross-border talent pools, demographics and education institutes and includes 66 client companies with employment of 8,625. IDA has been involved with supporting and developing the FinTech Corridor, a network developed out of the growing cluster of financial services and fintech companies located in the North East.
I nterTradeIreland, one of the North/South Implementation Bodies, helps small businesses to explore new cross-border markets, develop new products and services and become investor ready. Since its establishment it has assisted over 42,000 businesses, supported the creation of 16,000 jobs and generated more than €1.3billion in business development. Notwithstanding new challenges and a challenging trading landscape, the promotion and development of cross border trade continues to be a priority. My Department has been steadily increasing funding for ITI and the budget allocation for 2021 is over €11million. This will enable the body to continue to assist SMEs to adjust to trading post Brexit.
The development of the all-island economy is a priority across Government. One aim of the new shared island unit is to further develop our shared island economy by deepening our cooperation in areas like health and education and investing together to benefit the North West and border regions. In Budget 2021, the Government announced the Shared Island Fund, with €500m ring-fenced for Shared Island projects to 2025.