I propose to take Questions Nos. 368 and 372 together.
From an Enterprise Ireland perspective, the technology that underpins the augmented reality and virtual reality industries is currently niche and developmental. Enterprise Ireland has approved funding for a number of research and innovation projects in this area and has seen some client activity in this space, particularly in the areas of education, entertainment and marketing. Going forward, Enterprise Ireland would expect a greater number of companies to be involved in augmented reality and virtual reality industries, particularly in the above areas. To support these companies, Enterprise Ireland offers an array of supports and I am satisfied that these supports will assist entrepreneurs and companies in the augmented and virtual reality sectors to realise their ambitions.
- Start-Ups: Enterprise Ireland’s provides support to start-up companies to assist with business planning, mentoring and development advice, feasibility funding and finance, often in the form of equity investment, as appropriate to the founder’s ambitions and the company’s potential and stage of growth.
- Competitiveness: Enterprise Ireland recognises that Irish companies must be competitive in order to succeed in international markets. Enterprise Ireland’s Lean Business Offer encourages client companies to adopt lean principles and to build the capability and capacity of their people to identify problems and improve operations.
- Capability & Management Development: In addition to providing tailored support in creating and implementing business growth plans, Enterprise Ireland’s Capability and Mentoring Department has developed a number of programmes focused on supporting leadership and management and building international sales and marketing capabilities in Irish companies.
- Supporting Internationalisation, including market diversification: For Irish owned companies internationalisation is vital for growth. To support this, Enterprise Ireland has a presence in 33 overseas locations worldwide to give client companies access to foreign markets. Enterprise Ireland assists companies to build the knowledge and capability required for success in international markets by providing financial and non-financial supports. In addition, Enterprise Ireland runs Trade Missions to support clients win new export business and build international networks and partnerships.
- Access to Finance: Enterprise Ireland offers a range of financial supports to assist clients through all stages of the business development cycle. The nature and level of support offered to clients will depend on the individual company’s development needs and is assessed in consultation with their development adviser. In addition, the State, through Enterprise Ireland, has invested heavily in stimulating and facilitating the availability of Seed and Venture Capital to provide access to finance for SMEs.
- Innovation: Enterprise Ireland recognises that innovation is critical to the continued success of client companies in order to gain competitive advantage and create the next generation of winning products and services. Enterprise Ireland provides financial and non-financial support to companies to further improve their innovative capability and capacity.
- Research Collaboration: In order to promote business innovation with the ultimate aim of creating jobs, Enterprise Ireland works with the broader enterprise base in Ireland including foreign-owned MNCs and with the research community. The Technology Centre programme which Enterprise Ireland runs jointly with IDA Ireland brings consortia of indigenous firms and multinational companies together with academia to tackle problems that are prevalent in specific sectors or technology areas.
Innovation continues to be a priority for Enterprise Ireland. In 2017 it had 1,065 collaborative innovations between industry and Higher Education Institutes, 436 Technology Gateway projects for industry, and helped client companies secure €475 million in Horizon 2020 funding. I am confident that the work of my Department, through Enterprise Ireland, will result in exciting developments in all technologies, including virtual and augmented reality technology.