€2.9m fund for small agri-food businesses in Ireland and Wales
A €2.9m EU-funded initiative was today launched in Wexford to provide specialist support to 120 small businesses in the food and drink, life sciences and renewable energy sectors.
The ICT, manufacturing, business services and creative industries will also benefit from the initiative which is designed to help Irish and Welsh SMEs boost trade through the design and development of new products and services.
BUCANIER (Building Cluster and Networks in Innovation Enterprise and Research) will see Institute of Technology Carlow, Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) and Wexford County Council work as a collective with Pembrokeshire County Council, Carmarthenshire County Council and Swansea University Medical School in Wales for the benefit of 120 small businesses in Ireland and Wales.
The rationale behind BUCANIER is the successful partnering of higher education institutions and public bodies to bring about innovation and greater productivity for small businesses along the Irish seaboard.
Small businesses, individuals and researchers in the food and drink, life sciences and renewable energy sectors in counties Wicklow, Kildare, Waterford, Carlow, Kilkenny, Wexford, Cork, Tipperary and Kerry will benefit from the initiative in addition to their counterparts along the west coast of Wales.
BUCANIER is funded through the European Regional Development Fund as part of the Ireland-Wales cooperation programme.
By August 2020, the BUCANIER programme aims to see: 120 SMEs supported; 15pc full-time equivalent employment increase in supported enterprises; 60 new-to-firm products introduced amongst supported enterprises; six new-to-market products introduced amongst supported enterprises and two new or enhanced cross-border networks delivered.
BUCANIER plans on delivering on its objectives through: applying design-based innovation to bring new products and service ideas close to the commercial market; business mentoring; innovation master classes and special events; and creating new networks between Wales and Ireland for the benefit of same sector enterprises. BUCANIER also intends to increase the number of cross-border collaborative research, development and innovation (RD&I) clusters and networks between research institutions and SMEs.