Thursday 19 September 2019

Opportunities abound from new tech fund

Dr Imelda Lambkin, Enterprise Ireland
Dr Imelda Lambkin, Enterprise Ireland

Imelda Lambkin

After a successful first round of funding, which awarded 27 projects a total of more than €70m up to 2021, the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation has launched a second call for the Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund.

This is a significant opportunity for both large companies, and small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), to collaborate with research facilities in bringing to market innovative technologies that change the world in which we live. The Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund is a €500m fund established under Project Ireland 2040.

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It is run by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation, administered by Enterprise Ireland, and focused on technologies with the potential to alter markets, businesses and how we live.

Within that context, the fund is looking for collaborations between ambitious companies, and research-based entities and universities, to develop interesting ideas around disruptive technologies.

The fund welcomes collaborative teams, but the process is highly competitive and focuses on projects and teams with the ability to really change a sector or market.

In addition, the call is framed within certain areas, built around what is strategic and a priority for Ireland Inc and our research facilities.

That said, these areas are very broad, from information and communication technologies (ICT) through to health and wellbeing, sustainable food production, and climate change and energy production.

More information on the types of research areas for which the fund would be suitable can be found on the website:

To put it into context, the first call for the fund attracted more than 300 proposals, out of which 27 projects were awarded funding.

The successful projects involved 104 organisations, with the trend being for smaller collaborations, of two to four companies/entities.

The average award was €3m over three years, and areas included ICT, life sciences, manufacturing, food and health. Interestingly, 17 of the 27 successful projects were led by small to medium-sized firms.

These ranged from Atrian Medical and Neurent Medical, both of whom are developing innovative healthcare solutions in collaboration with NUI Galway, to Artomatix, which is collaborating with three other companies to develop artificial

intelligence in automating the creation of 3D models and worlds within the gaming industry.

The largest award in call-one was to a project led by Amryt Pharma, which aims to disrupt the viral gene therapy market using a new polymer-based delivery platform.

This innovative project, which involves three other partners - Curran Scientific, UCD and Debra Ireland - was awarded €8.4m over three years.

At Enterprise Ireland, we believe there is a pool of very interesting SMEs operating in Ireland. We hope they see the success of companies within call-one and feel motivated to scale up their ambition to apply for this second round.

To encourage even greater ambition among the proposals, there have been significant changes to the criteria for entries in call-two.

In the first round, teams had to bid for a minimum of €1m from the fund; in this call, that figure has been increased to €1.5m.

The consortium can consist of enterprises only or enterprises with one or more research performing organisations (RPOs).

In this round, the minimum consortium should comprise three independent entities, of which two must be enterprises and one must be an SME.

The leader of the consortium can be an eligible enterprise or an eligible RPO. In this round, RPOs cannot receive more than 50pc of the total funding in any collaboration.

If you are interested in making a submission, the fund is now accepting proposals up to the deadline of September 18, 2019 (3pm, Irish time). Details of how to apply, criteria and guidelines for proposals are available on the fund's website.

Details of the successful projects from call-one are available on the website too, along with a number of inspirational success stories.

In addition, to help entrants frame their proposals, a series of information events and webinars will be hosted on the website during the call-two process.

Imelda Lambkin is manager of the Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund at Enterprise Ireland

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