Tánaiste opens new round of funding for disruptive technologies

The Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar TD, Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris TD and Minister of State for Trade Promotion, Digital and Company Regulation, Robert Troy TD,  launched Call 5 of the Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund (DTIF), with a particular focus on the Advanced and Smart Manufacturing sector.

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The Tánaiste said: “The story of Irish manufacturing is one of incredible transformation and progress. From printing computer manuals to making micro-chips for the world, from producing garments to innovative medicines, from a factory floor for Britain to producing leading products for a diverse and highly competitive global market, the manufacturing industry in Ireland is unrecognisable to what it once was.

“We want this level of innovation and adaption to continue, which is why we are putting the focus of this Call under the Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund on Advanced and Smart Manufacturing. Today, the sector employs over 260,000 people across the country. We want to grow the industry further, as part of our drive to have 2.5m at work in Ireland by 2024, which would be the highest ever level in the history of the state.

“The pandemic is not over, but are in a new phase now, one where we can think about recovery and how we rebuild. Our manufacturing sector, which showed truly incredible fortitude over the past two years, will now need to rise to a new set of challenges facing us. I’m excited about the future of Irish manufacturing. The Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund is a fantastic opportunity for any teams working on ground-breaking projects, of which I know there are many.”

The aim of the €500 million Disruptive Technologies Fund is to encourage collaborations between industry and the research sector on the development of ground-breaking technologies. The Government has already allocated €235 million to 72 projects approved under the previous three DTIF calls. These projects cover areas such as life sciences, medical devices, ICT, artificial intelligence, manufacturing and environmental sustainability. Applications received under call 4 are currently undergoing evaluation and details of the successful projects under that call will be announced later this year.

Call 5 is targeting the Advanced and Smart Manufacturing sector and the development of novel and disruptive innovation in conventional manufacturing operations. This is the first time the fund will focus on a specific sector with the aim of delivering radical enhancement in manufacturing systems or supply chains.

There are several changes to the Fund for this call which are aimed at encouraging applications from this highly important sector in the Irish economy. In this call, each project must have at least one established manufacturing company in a consortium of three or more project partners, one of which must be an SME and one other enterprise partner. Collaborations with the Irish research sector are encouraged. All partners must be based in Ireland and be a client of Enterprise Ireland, IDA Ireland, Údarás na Gaeltachta or an eligible Research Performing Organisation (RPO) at the application deadline. The type of eligible research is broadened from “industrial research” to include “experimental development”.

The Fund targets disruptive and innovative research projects of scale and impact. The minimum funding request must be €1.5 million for projects of up to three years’ duration, and the enterprise partners must provide matched funding.

Simon Harris TD, Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science also welcomed the DTIF funding:

“The Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund continues to occupy a unique space in the research and innovation sector. It fosters collaboration between enterprises and research institutions where each partners’ expertise can contribute to the successful conversion of an idea for a piece of industrial research to a viable product or service. This cross-pollination of ideas, knowledge and research is key to our economic development.

Our research sector is a fabulous resource, and the Government has greatly increased its capacity in recent years as we work to build a world class innovation system. We recognise that the returns from such investment will underpin enterprise development and, in turn, help to build national competitive advantage across the economy.

The Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund is a crucial tool in this process. The Fund helps enterprises by absorbing some of the risk associated with investment in disruptive innovation projects and providing them with access to the wide range of skills and expertise available within our research sector. For the research community, it enables them to engage with pro-active enterprises that are at the forefront of their sector and, together, deliver the new goods and services that have the potential to disrupt existing markets and greatly improve our lives.”

Also welcoming the new round of funding, Minister of State for Trade Promotion, Digital and Company Regulation, Robert Troy TD emphasised the importance of collaboration between industry and research sectors saying,

“The Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund provides crucial funding for the enterprise and research sectors to come together and develop disruptive and innovative solutions to challenges facing the manufacturing sector and enterprise at large. Partnerships between these sectors facilitated under this Fund has already produced many successful projects developing cutting edge technologies. Given Ireland’s capabilities in Smart and Advanced Manufacturing are internationally recognized, the Irish Government wants to build on this strong reputation and support its growth to further economic competitiveness as we navigate the new normal and embrace the opportunities and challenges that disruptive technologies bring to our workplaces and homes.”

Leo Clancy, CEO, Enterprise Ireland, who administer the Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund, said:

“Advanced and Smart Manufacturing is a core element of the Government’s Industry 4.0 strategy. This themed DTIF call offers opportunities for enterprises to make significant contributions to the development of this vital sector.

Irish companies have a well-deserved reputation for demonstrating agility, for leading change and for driving disruption in markets. These are essential traits for the success of the Fund and of the Industry 4.0 strategy. We need Irish SMEs to step forward and use their ingenuity to develop new business models or new methods of manufacturing which will increase productivity in their own business and across their sector.

For this call, applicants can now submit projects utilising experimental development research as well as industrial research. I would expect to see companies involved in manufacturing and in associated supply chains exploiting the opportunity to give themselves a competitive advantage in their sector.

Collaboration is a key driver for the success of Industry 4.0 and the Fund is already fostering a strong collaborative culture in Ireland. On their own, many SMEs may not have the capacity to take on the broad range of activity required to maximise their investment in industrial research or experimental development. However, they can use the Fund to collaborate with other SMEs or with larger enterprises and research institutions to share the workload and achieve their objectives.

I would urge all SMEs to explore the opportunities that the DTIF offers to assist them in maximising their investments in research.”

All eligible applications received by the deadline of 3pm on 14 July 2022, will undergo rigorous assessment by panels of independent international experts.

 

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