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£1.3m/ €1.5m Funding Available to Cross-Border Business Partnerships

InterTradeIreland recently announced that it has a further £1.3 million / €1.5m in funding available for businesses in 2013 through the Innova programme for North/South collaborative innovation partnerships to develop new products, process or service development. InterTradeIreland is calling on local businesses with an innovative idea and strong commercial potential, who have already found a strategic partner in the South to apply for Innova funding. Companies that take part in Innova can benefit from pooling their expertise and resources to bring their innovations to market faster than if working alone. 

To date, InterTradeIreland has released over £6.7million directly to companies North and South to commercialise existing partnerships. Significant partnership outputs to date include the development of treatments for cancer, a heart monitoring device, a compost raw material to improve mushroom production and the development of an IT solution for wastewater treatment compliance.

The Innova Programme in particular is looking for collaborative partnership projects in the following sectors: Life and Health Sciences, Polymers and Plastics, Agri-Food, Advanced Engineering and Advanced Materials, Telecoms, ICT and Environmental. Partners can work in the same sector or come from different but complementary disciplines.

Commenting on the opportunities that can be gained through Innova, Grant Gilmore, Innova operations manager at InterTradeIreland said,

"The Innova programme provides North/South business partnerships with more than just funding. Other key benefits include expediting the development of new or improved innovative products, processes or services whilst providing a quicker route to market and a greatly increased rate of commercialisation. Innova also links partnerships together to help them share otherwise inaccessible knowledge, technology and expertise as well as giving access to complimentary networks and channels to market.

"InterTradeIreland's key focus is to assist companies across the island to build innovative capability. Recent research, undertaken by InterTradeIreland, has shown that businesses that engage in innovation are three times more successful than those that do not. It is also evident that companies both North and South could benefit from further collaboration and networking and programmes like Innova aim to exploit this potential."

An example of an Innova Partnership delivering real benefits to both companies in a difficult economic environment is Belfast based Instil and Dundalk based Vennetics who came together to develop a new type of telephony service called 'Moozler'. Moozler provides services direct to customers through the internet without using either mobile or VoIP service providers. The companies explained that prior to participating in the Innova programme, both had a concept but that collaboration brought the concept to fruition. Vennetics had the experience on the product side while Instil brought the benefit of its bespoke software solutions to the process.

The partnership is now working with a number of major global telecoms companies including three in Ireland, Bell in Canada, Telefonica in Spain (Movistar) and O2 in the UK, providing them with a consumer brand for a new service they can offer their customers.

Both companies have hired new staff as a direct result of the project and are in the process of further expansion. Innova enabled Instil to transform from a micro company into an SME. Prior to its collaboration with Vennetics, Instil employed only two people. Today, it employs eight, with plans to grow beyond that in the near future.

Tara Simpson, CEO of Instil explained the benefits of Innova, "The Innova programme works very well; it is an easy but extremely effective process. All-island trade is vital for Northern companies; it gives us access to a whole new market. Innova provided us with the platform to tap into these opportunities and to develop a partnership with Vennetics which has lasted over two years. It's a partnership based on trust."

Ivan McShane, Engineering Director Vennetics said: "Innova was key to the success of our Moozler product. As a small company we had done all of the research and development of our concept, however, we were at too early a stage to start pitching to venture capitalists and other people who could help us fund the development of the product and that's where Innova came in. With the help of InterTradeIreland, we identified Instil in Belfast as a good fit for Vennetics. Innova made it happen – together we mapped out a plan for getting our idea to actual production phase."

InterTradeIreland is encouraging businesses with an innovative idea with strong commercial potential and an existing strategic business partner in the South to apply now for funding support up to £250,000 / €300,000 through Innova.

Source: InterTrade Ireland - £1.3m/ €1.5m Funding Available to Cross-Border Business Partnerships