Research and innovation is the bedrock of success for the most ambitious companies that scale internationally, diversify their export base and create jobs at home.
A higher education sector and research ecosystem that is outward looking and internationally engaged, and collaborating with Irish companies, is of critical importance to Ireland's place in the world and to our global competitiveness.
As citizens we rely on our innovators and researchers as engines of economic growth and to help us overcome some our greatest societal challenges.
With the emergence of Covid-19 and the challenges posed by climate change, the truth of this has never been clearer. A key pillar of Enterprise Ireland's client engagement strategy is therefore to support companies and researchers to individually and collaboratively achieve their global ambition.
The European Union's Horizon 2020 programme is designed to support innovators and researchers, by funding research excellence, industrial leadership and tackling societal challenges.
To date, Irish companies and researchers have been awarded and contracted in excess of €987m in funding under Horizon 2020 - with more in the pipeline.
Horizon 2020 will be succeeded by Horizon Europe. However, many opportunities remain over the next six months.
Following a call in May for applications focusing on the EU Green Deal, the European Commission's European Innovation Council (EIC) Accelerator recently announced that 64 European startups and SMEs are to be awarded some €307m.
The EIC Accelerator pilot supports high-risk, high-potential SMEs and innovators to help them develop and bring onto the market new innovative products, services and business models that could drive economic growth.
Applicants are able to apply for up to €2.5m in grant support, and for up to €15m in equity investment.
Two Galway-based companies were among the successful applicants.
NVP Energy Limited is to receive funding for its Ambi-Robic technology for treating municipal sewage wastewater, and GlasPort Bio Limited is to receive funding for its GasAbate N+ technology for removing greenhouse gas emissions from animal manure. Stored manures account for 16pc of all greenhouse gas emissions from EU agriculture.
The success of these companies followed the announcement in June by the EIC that eight Irish companies secured more than 10pc of the funding allocated under this call and have been awarded grant and equity funding totalling more than €31m.
The budget for this call was increased by the EIC to ensure that many Covid-19 relevant innovations were supported in addition to other thematic areas.
Among the successful applicants were seven Enterprise Ireland clients. They included Kite Medical, OneProjects Design Innovation, Provizio, Remedy Biologics, Kastus Technologies, SiriusXT and Aquila Biosciences.
These results are a testament to the vibrancy of the Irish commercialisation and startup eco-system and should be celebrated. The final EIC Accelerator call for applications closes on October 7 - and it has no thematic focus.
Importantly, it has a focus on female entrepreneurship where, should the first-round evaluation show that a minimum of 25pc of companies selected for the final-stage interviews are not led by women, additional interviews will then be planned.
The EIC accelerator is a real opportunity for entrepreneurs to raise funding, innovate and scale their businesses. The only real challenge that these companies can have is if they are not being sufficiently ambitious.
In the autumn, a Horizon 2020 call for applications totalling close to €1bn will be launched to respond to the urgency of climate change and to the ambition of the European Green Deal objectives.
This will be a cross-cutting work programme covering a vast array of European Green Deal-related topics. And there will be opportunities for innovators and researchers across Europe to collaborate and compete for funding.
Under the umbrella of the European Enterprise Network (EEN), Enterprise Ireland and our colleagues in Invest NI will be running a virtual brokerage event on the European Green Deal call on October 13.
This event will be an opportunity to get further information and to meet potential consortia partners from across the island of Ireland and the wider Horizon 2020 family.
See here to register: h2020-green-deal-call-dublin.b2match.io/.
For more information about the extensive supports available to innovators and researchers under Horizon 2020 and the Horizon 2020 National Contact Point Network please refer to horizon.ie.
Garrett Murray is the national director for Horizon 2020 at Enterprise Ireland
Sunday Indo Business