27 projects to share €75m as State bets on 'disruptive' tech
Funding is first tranche from €500m pot and companies to benefit are in health, food, ICT and manufacturing sectors
Some 27 projects in high tech, health and food will be told that they are sharing €75m in direct Government funding today in what is being described as a State bet on 'disruptive' technologies.
The projects include a high-tech system to tackle coastal flooding, artificial intelligence and the use of new blockchain technology for medical devices.
The overall initiative is part of a €500m pot called the Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund, which is being financed by the Government as part of its 'Project Ireland 2040' fund.
One such scheme involves developing new ways of fighting colorectal cancer by reinterpreting data gleaned from molecular fluorescent probes. The project is being led by the Royal College of Surgeons Ireland, with IBM, UCD and a company called Deciphex supporting it.
The 27 different projects were picked from 300 applications in search of the funding.
The cash will be used to develop services and products commercially that arise from the projects.
"All 27 are collaborative projects from the health, food, ICT and manufacturing sectors," said a spokeswoman for the Department of Business Enterprise and Innovation.
"They include collaborations between start-ups, SMEs, multinationals and academic institutions.
"Over 300 applications were made under the first round and successful projects have made it through a highly competitive process involving screening by a panel of international experts."
The first tranche of €75m is to be awarded over the next three years and is part of an effort by the Government to increase public funding for research-led technology.
Figures from the Irish Venture Capital Association indicate that indigenous companies developing medical devices and biotech, which lean heavily on academic and institutional research, are among the most successful Irish start-ups at achieving business scale quickly.
A number of medical tech companies in the West of Ireland have attracted funding rounds of €10m or more.
"It is one of the first funds of its type in the world and is aimed at tackling national and global challenges to secure the jobs of the future," said the department spokeswoman.
One recent success is biopharmaceuticals innovator Nuritas, headed by Dr Nora Khaldi, who built a cutting-edge company on the back of a PhD from Trinity and has just been rewarded with a €30m loan from the European Investment Bank in its first direct financing of an Irish firm in the sector.
One issue holding back start-up development is the relatively stingy €1m allowance against capital gains from a trade sale versus €10m in the UK.