The event to which the Deputy refers took place as a webinar on Thursday last. Its purpose was to provide information to Irish industry and research institutions on the opportunities for EU funding for research and development projects and engagement in cross-border European programmes and projects in the security and defence domain.
Contributors to the event included the European Commission (Directorate General for Defence Industry and Space) and the European Defence Agency. The event also involved a number of European enterprises sharing their experience of the wide-ranging opportunities that there are for Irish research institutions and industrial entities in the security and defence domain, particularly for exploitation of dual use technologies. Associations representing Defence and Security research and enterprise also participated in the event.
Providing support to Irish companies, especially SMEs, is about developing technologies that keep our Defence Forces safe whether they are on missions and operations overseas or undertaking the range of duties at home in Ireland.
The event, which was very well attended by Irish companies and research institutes, including the higher education sector. The event follows on from the publication last year by my Department and the Defence Forces of a Feasibility Study which, inter alia, identified the value of having a research technology and innovation capability within the Defence Organisation that focuses on technologies at lower technology readiness levels (TRL) that have broad potential utilisation in both the civil and security and defence spheres and on leveraging innovations from the civilian sector in a manner that offers potential benefits for our Defence forces as well as for industry and academia.
The recent establishment of the RTI Unit in Defence has the potential to set a new strategic direction for Defence innovation and collaboration, to drive internal innovation in the Defence Organisation and to contribute to the development of a security and defence dual-use innovation eco-system. The Defence RTI Unit will also support Irish enterprise and research bodies in accessing EU funding streams, including through the European Defence Fund, the EDA and their engagement with European networks and SMEs across the EU.